Ballroom & Latin

Strictly review: The Final

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 marks the end of this years series and the final review, tutors Nick Breakspear and Hanna Sierzputowska cast their critical eye over proceedings. 

The final week of Strictly saw the remaining couples each present three routines: a judges' choice, a couples' choice, and a showdance.

Louise Redknapp and Kevin Clifton

The judges' choice for Louise and Kevin was the cha cha cha with a request to see more hip action. Dancing dressed in black, with a dark backdrop, and (despite the Academy Award) to an uninspiring musical score that was a poor fit to the cha cha cha style, Louise had been given a hard sell. She was competent but her leg straightening and hip movement were not conspicuous. Darcy praised Louise for being understated; this was true but Louise also appeared cautious and overall the judges’ pre-scripted enthusiasms served only to throw into relief what the dance lacked. The showdance was a lyrical number to another 80s score re-telling her Strictly story of having grown in confidence. Louise showed a pleasing continuity of movement and was natural and convincing. It wasn't ballroom and Latin but it was a highlight of the show. Louise and Kevin's choice of dance to perform was Louise's breakthrough routine - the Argentine tango. As earlier in the series, the characterization was excellent and her leg lines were clear and well timed. The choice was a pleasing contrast to the tempo and style of her showdance.

Danny Mac and Oti Mabuse

The judges' choice for Danny and Oti was the quickstep with the suggestion that with work they might improve the previously high score of 36 to the maximum 40. The bar, then, was set high and the couple changed a little of the choreography to please. Danny's poise and hold were typically excellent but from the beginning the synchronization was a little off and it's tempting to think that this distracted him and contributed to a mistake later in the routine. It was, nevertheless, an impressive reminder of Danny's capabilities. The showdance, based on the paso double and tango, was as dramatically intense as expected from this couple. Danny showed excellent balance and control and the use of props (mirror) was integral to the story. Danny and Oti's choice of dance was their samba with an African flavour. It was a showstopper and the use of body rhythm was unequalled in this series of Strictly and possibly any other.

Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton

The judges' choice for Ore and Joanne was the American smooth with a request that Ore correct his forward-bending poise. His poise did improve but perhaps at the cost of appearing strangely staccato and studied which was at odds with the strolling, swinging Gene Kelly that the score evoked. The showdance pressed the Gene Kelly button again with "I Got Rhythm". This was a medley of excerpts showcasing Ore's skills from previous routines. The greatest hits format is generally a safe option but risks being a little disappointing. In this case, though, it worked well to a skillful arrangement of another popular jazz standard. The dancers' choice was the jive. This was strong, clean, tight, and faultless.

Setting aside any previous training (which may or may not be disclosed) Danny looked the best celebrity dancer in technique and performance over the series and on the night. His mistake will have counted against him, though. Louise was impressive but suffered from the judges' unprepossessing choice of dance. Ore was occasionally over marked and talked-up by the judges and presenters during the series. He appeared the most limited of the three and to my eye to have the least attractive style. All three finalists were excellent, though, in a series of very able celebrities and it was partly (but not only) because of this that the choreographic teams produced even better work.

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