Did two new dance styles and a guest judge make this Strictly’s best evening yet?

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“I feel like an old octopus out there.”

Bruno Tonioli teased us last week that his good friend Alfonso Ribeiro would be substituting as a guest judge will he’s away. But sadly, like Donny Osmond from series 12, Alfonso’s only real experience is his Dancing with the Stars experience. And because he’s missing that key technical eye, it was hard to feel like the couples were being scored fairly last night. He was still very fun, but an old professional would have been a better guest judge.

And as for the new dance styles, all I can say is finally. Strictly hasn’t had a new dance style since series 7 introduced the charleston, not counting the dance fusion from series 10 as that was a one week thing, and both performances were incredible. Lauren Steadman might’ve ended up near the bottom of the leaderboard, but there’s no denying that Charles Venn was incredible during his. Hopefully, these styles stay around for next series, and I absolutely cannot wait for the jazz and theatre routines.

Last week, it was the end of the road for Katie Piper. And although I’m disappointed because I loved her storytelling in the jive, and she is such inspiration, it was the right time. I think she had reached the limit of her ability in the foxtrot, and it would have been a shame to have lost some of the other performers.

And in last week’s poll, you guys voted Joe Sugg’s cha-cha-cha as your favourite dance with 27% of the vote. Ashley Roberts’s sultry tango managed to grab second place with 21% of the vote, and another sultry dance in Faye Tozer’s rumba placed third with 16% of the vote.

This week’s show was kicked off by an adequate American smooth by Dr. Ranj Singh. Throughout the dance, I struggled to decide whether I liked his technique, but at the end of the day there was no denying that it was a very sweet performance, and it put a smile on my face.

And although Lauren Steadman’s contemporary routine didn’t put a smile on my face, well something in the routine did, I was swept away by the emotion and the storytelling of the whole performance, and although I’m no expert in contemporary dance routines, I did feel that it was a little bit undermarked.

Coming on to Graeme Swann’s tango, I wasn’t expecting anything special. He has excelled in his charleston and jive in recent weeks, but I still never felt like he could fully deliver. But those expectations are now gone, his tango was full of focus and drive, some great staccato action, and was one of the stronger performances of the night. I pegged him as an early leaver, but now I’m thinking he could make it fairly far in the competition.

But I was expecting special things from Ashley Roberts, despite her having the so-called dance of death, the rumba. And her routine definitely impressed, and you can tell just how strong at dance she is from watching her in the spin section. On the other hand, Seann Walsh’s quickstep was a little bit all over the place and didn’t look as sleek as other quicksteps we’ve seen this series.

The next dance was Stacey Dooley with the samba. For me, Stacey wasn’t looking great in the early stages of the series, staying around, the low to low midtable rankings, but that all changed after her Minions-inspired jive. And much like last week she kept the momentum going, and I absolutely loved her routine. The whole party atmosphere was there, and she was a pure delight to watch.

Another delight was Joe Sugg’s waltz. I’m not a big fan of the waltz of the Viennese waltz as they’re never show-stopping routines, and they either look good or they look boring, there’s no in-between. And Joe’s waltz fell straight into the look good category. His posture had improved drastically since his American smooth, his tiny bottom was tucked away and I was mesmerised by the whole performance. And again, this was a performance that I felt was undermarked.

Vick Hope had been showing real promise in the past few weeks, with the highlight being her quickstep from last week. But it seems that her Latin boyfriend has hurt her this time, as the judges slammed her cha-cha-cha. I was fairly ambivalent about it, and thought it looked fun, but if the technique was missing then the technique was missing. Although it was a surprise to see her at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Kate Silverton was up next with a Viennese waltz, and she didn’t fully redeem herself like I was hoping she was. Kate’s clear strength is in the ballroom categories, but she seemed quite hesitant in this one, like she was still reeling from the negative feedback from last week’s samba. Hopefully she pulls herself out of that mindframe soon, because her ballroom is truly magical and I would love to see her get back to some of the magical performances again.

But the final three dances found the magic. I’ve been waiting since week 1 for Danny John-Jules to amaze me, and I was considering writing him off as someone who’d do well, but never entertain me. But this week, he pulled everything out of the bag and joined the host of celebrities from past series smashing the jive in early weeks. Everything was delivered spectacularly, and his performance ended up taking my breath away. I was expecting stuff like this from the minute he was announced, and I was so glad that he finally delivered on it.

Faye Tozer delivered a moving foxtrot, although it felt like it ended up ending far too quickly, and Charles Venn finally broke out of the 25 scoring club. And, boy, did he break out of it. I thought the salsa would suit Charles, but clearly it was the street dance that suited him the most. He seemed to be the living embodiment of cool and his routine was slick and full of things I was never expecting. It’s hard to picture him being in the bottom two again this week.

Although there were a boatload of performances I loved last night, like Stacey’s samba, Graeme’s tango and Joe’s waltz, it was an easy vote for me. I went straight for the top of the leaderboard and voted for Danny and his jive. He delivered on everything I wanted him to do from the start, and much like Craig said, it looked like a dance for the final.

And you can see exactly why Danny’s performance belonged in the final below. You can also enjoy Stacey’s samba, as that was another highlight of the evening.

And when it came to the results it wasn’t surprising to see both Vick and Seann in the dance off, seeing as Vick was at the bottom of the leaderboard and the public aren’t happy with Seann’s off-screen antics. And at the end of the night it was Seann who delivered the better performance in the dance-off as Vick still seemed to be dancing on bent legs at points in the performance. It’s a shame because Vick seemed to have the potential to go further, but given her departure it has definitely made the bottom of the leaderboard a very dangerous place when compared to previous years.

But with all of these new routines, who performed your favourite dance of the night? Let us know by voting below.

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