Ballroom & Latin

Strictly review: Week 2

Each week our Ballroom and Latin American dance tutors will dissect the highs and lows of the weekend's Strictly Come Dancing episode. This week tutor Nick Breakspear casts his critical eye of proceedings. 

The second week of Strictly saw celebrity Will Young present his jive. This style is a favourite with the dancers both celebrity and professional because of its immediate appeal to the audience - with its high tempo music and high energy movement this uninhibited, fun style is particularly suited to a Saturday night variety show.  It's also proved to be a flexible style, allowing the choreographic teams licence to produce work that will play to each celebrity's strengths. Another benefit to the style is that if one figure goes wrong on the night the dancers are swiftly on to the next, relatively different figure without allowing the audience the time to focus on the error or the dancers to dwell on it in a self-defeating way - in dance, as in life, what makes the difference is not so much that one falls over but what one does afterwards!

The jive is also popular with learners at Morley. It's rather like riding a bicycle in that once you've cracked the irregular step, replace, chase, chasse foot pattern and are starting to develop a hip movement (analogous to learning to balance on two wheels) your journey through the basic figures is relatively effortless. The fact that music of slower tempi than is required for competition is also suited to the jive (e.g. search for Fine Brown Frame by Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves) makes it a suitable style for beginners to learn early in their dancing career - these slower tempi are often used during social dances as well as in class.

We saw from Will Young's tango last week that he's a performer who can communicate a sense of commitment and warmly engage the audience. This feeling was no less present during his jive. As Len Goodman pointed out, the routine was a pleasing mixture of Lindy, rock 'n' roll, and Latin jive. Not only because of the music but also because of the choreography the predominant feel was of the authentic sub-style of rock 'n' roll. We may find as we see Mr Young dance more that this was chosen because he's better when "grounded" (my term, not technical!) although Craig Revel Horwood criticised Mr Young for being "flat-footed" - sometimes you just can't win!

Despite the rock 'n' roll feel, Morley learners will recognise movements similar to figures they learn in the jive such as changes of places, hip bump, windmill, sailor step, and rolling off the arm. For me, rock 'n' roll needs a little more hair on its chest than the young-at-heart Mr Young provided, so I'm looking forward to seeing him in the other Latin styles, however, as Len might have said while jabbing his finger for rhetorical effect: "Good job!"

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