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Strictly Speaking – week eight

Marianka Swain is comforted by Strictly Come Dancing’s sparkly pleasures In this year, it may seem relatively minor, yet it’s still worth acknowledging: #BallsToBlackpool is actually a reality, as 2016’s unlikely saviour prances on. At this rate, he could be Prime Minister by Christmas. Or maybe Reality TV Captain of Galactic Emperor Trump’s Make Space Great […]

La Fille mal gardée

What has happened to La Fille mal gardée? When did a generic pantomime dame replace Widow Simone’s individual character? Why doesn’t Alain offer the spurned engagement ring to the entire audience? Why do the lights dim for the final joyous pas de deux? Why are the sheaves now bound in actual raffia, which makes them […]

Strictly Speaking – Week Seven

Marianka Swain on musical mistakes and a triumph for ballroom nerdiness We’ve reached the halfway point, and with the leading pack tighter than Ore’s salsa trousers the “shock” bottom twos keep coming. Well, it was rather a shock that Doomed Daisy somehow survived a dismal slot in the running order and the most saccharine routine known […]

Strictly Speaking – week 6

Marianka Swain on Strictly Come Dancing’s Halloween dive into the prop basket It gives me no pleasure to report that Strictly’s annual Fright Night was even more frightful than usual. Well, some pleasure. An Ed Balls cha cha amount of pleasure. Yes, against all odds, 2016’s fifth-strangest political happening lives on. Meanwhile, the two newly […]

Don’t do as I say, do as I do

The first month of what’s traditionally the new academic year has come and gone, and teaching has occupied my thoughts. It isn’t for me to discuss here what makes an exceptional teacher or coach – that would warrant a whole PhD thesis in its own right. What I will stridently write is how I marvel […]

Strictly Speaking – week 5

Has anyone checked if the Strictly studio is built on an ancient Indian burial ground? Or has a disgruntled crewmember started compiling voodoo dolls? For there is a curse afoot, and not the usual home-wrecking one, with this drama-laden series beginning to resemble And Then There Were None. Injuries befalling Anastacia, Greg, Tameka and now […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 4

Ringers vs comedians, simmering drama and a soaring jive: Marianka Swain on Strictly Come Dancing True to form, there was something of a post-theme comedown in this week’s show – at least until that climatic flurry of 10s. Is Week 4 too soon for such a high score? Was the sudden mano a mano rivalry a […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 3

Marianka Swain on the popcorn and drama of Movie Week Theme weeks are normally a horror-fest of props and cartoonish presentation, but – miracle of miracles – this was actually a strong Movie Week, with mercifully little faff in the actual dances (VTs were another story) and plenty of room for celeb improvement. Once again, […]

Strictly Speaking – Week 2

  Marianka Swain on time-wasting field trips and dance-off controversy It wasn’t just The Fall that suddenly resembled a particularly well-styled episode of Casualty this week. We had (in retrospect fairly insensitive) muscle-pulling jokes from Will Young, and – more significantly – the series’ first elimination notching a solid five on the Strictly Controversy Scale through […]

Strictly Speaking 2016 – Week 1

Marianka Swain on the first competitive week of Strictly Come Dancing 2016 And we’re off! Another series of ringer debates, capricious scoring and Great British Triers, the latter group represented this year by, well, pretty much just Ed Balls. Is the 2016 crop a bit too good too soon? I did some highly scientific research (AKA chucked […]

Can they dance like nobody else?

Alvin Ailey’s first company, established in 1958, consisted of seven black dancers and the intention of showcasing black culture. Over the years, as the troupe’s size and reputation continued to grow, it had an unmatched impact on dance in the US. Though predominantly African-American, the roster was integrated in 1964 and has included white and […]

Dance as window-dressing?

Dance maligned, dance misused, dance as window-dressing. You wouldn’t expect a live performance to inspire such thoughts, but in less than a week I’ve seen two that do, and the combination was quite unsettling. Let’s start with the worse offence, perpetrated by the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre. A new version of an old story, Her […]

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