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Brave New World? 

It isn’t unusual to feel reflective at the start of a new year, but as winter 2020 turns into spring 2021, I’m feeling more pensive than I have in recent years. I’ve written before in the pages of Dancing Times about how lucky I am to be living a dancing life that, though adapted, is […]

Strictly Speaking: The final

What an extraordinary end to the series. The Strictly final aired just hours after Boris Johnson made his latest screeching u-turn, announcing that millions of people would have to cancel their festive plans and spend Christmas separated from loved ones. Could our dance show, which has been an escapist haven during a grim, dark winter, […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 8

Can we believe we’ve only got one show to go? Sob! Anyhow, this was – understandably – not a vintage semi-final. It feels like the celebs have barely begun, and yet here we are asking them to learn two dances. Overall, this… did not go well. It was basically the weakest outing for everyone except […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 7

Well, that was a jolly Musicals Week. Although very strange to think it’s already the quarter-finals, when it feels like we’ve only just begun the series. Product of both a shorter Strictly, and time losing all meaning in 2020. I’m both relieved we’re nearly at the end of this year and sad that our sparkly […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 6

A rather mediocre performance week, with some improvement in scoring, and alas still some glaring biases. However, poor Clara Amfo really doomed herself with an error-strewn jive that was actually marked quite kindly, yet cemented her place in the dance-off. Though I still think she got a raw deal overall this series, we never really […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 5

Well. This was not one of Strictly’s better outings. Our Staycation Blackpool Week sadly took all the worst elements of that usual jaunt – judging hysteria, inconsistent scores – without actually giving us the pleasure of performances at the Tower Ballroom. Add in some unfortunate sexism and another trying week of Judge Anton, and this […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 4

This was quite the Bizarro Strictly, with a sadly absent Nicola and Katya, Motsi joining Bruno in Zoom purgatory, and Anton du Beke finally wearing the producers down and getting his shot at judging – the equivalent of a small child pleading for ice cream repeatedly during a six-hour drive. Yes, fine, don’t spill it […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 3

You know what I didn’t need during a week where I’ve barely slept, my body now programmed to wake up at 3am, lunge for my phone and frantically check the Pennsylvania count? The absolute, unadulterated nightmare fuel that was Strictly Movie Week. Truly there is no punishment great enough for whoever dreamed up that Simpsons […]

Lazuli Sky

Ordinarily, a sprinkling of viewers scattered around the seats at Sadler’s Wells would be a sorry sight, representing all too clearly a general lack of interest in that night’s attraction. Now, however, as they waited eagerly for Birmingham Royal Ballet (BRB) to present three new pieces – two never performed in the UK before, one […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 2

Marianka Swain on Strictly’s first elimination this year. Is Strictly the last remaining thread holding this nation together? Arguably yes, given that the BBC had to cut away from Boris Johnson’s press conference on Saturday lest riots break out in the streets. Perhaps also because there are only so many ill-formatted graphs one person can […]

Strictly Speaking: Week 1

Marianka Swain reviews the first week of Strictly 2020. Photographs by Guy Levy, courtesy of the BBC This first proper competitive show gave us a chance to assess the “new normal” on Strictly – and, for the most part, it worked absolutely fine. Yes, the performances felt a little muted without a raucous studio audience, […]

Strictly Speaking 2020: The Launch Show

Marianka Swain introduces the Class of 2020. Photographs by Guy Levy, courtesy of the BBC I must begin on an earnest note: what a minor miracle it is to have this sliver of sequinned normality back on our screens. Thank you, thank you to everyone on Team Strictly whose tireless work allowed us to forget […]

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