Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse Argentine Tango to Phantom of the Opera from Phantom of the Opera
If you’ve been following my Strictly Come Dancing blogs, you will have noticed that I’m a big fan of the Bill and Oti partnership. I think he’s a tremendous artist and how he approaches dance is exactly my cup of tea. Even so, I was quite nervous about an Argentine Tango to Phantom of the Opera. I mean, both physically and artistically that’s a big challenge. How did the couple do?
Storytelling in the Argentine Tango – Musicals Week
First up, let’s look at the storytelling. As it’s Musicals Week this is even more important than usually. Choosing the Christine and Phantom relationship was a genius choice, I thought. A sensual, steamy Argentine Tango the way Ranvir and Giovanni had interpreted it in week five seemed unlikely to fit the bill for Bill and Oti. In contrast, a tense, mysterious and confounding relationship seemed a great choice as it would still work for the Argentine Tango, but suit the couple better.
Sadly, the storytelling didn’t work for me on Saturday. I just couldn’t see the story they were trying to tell and didn’t get enough mystery. I wonder why that was. Where they unsure about what they wanted to portray? Or was I just expecting too much?
Falling into the Strictly trap
On Saturday, in the heat of the moment, this left me a little disappointed while still hugely admiring of the work put in. Having rewatched the dance now, I was able to see much better the many things that Bill achieved in this dance. I had fallen into the Strictly trap, i.e. I’d forgotten that we’re seeing dance beginners.
In my defence I’d like to say that with the incredible performances they deliver week in and week out, it’s easy to forget that the celebrities have only been dancing a few weeks really. If I bring that front of mind, I’m just amazed at Bill’s achievement.
Leading in the Argentine Tango
A major challenge in the Argentine Tango was that Oti could not help Bill at all with his leading duties. In many dances the female pro dancers can gently “cheat” a little to help their learning male partners. I think that’s totally fair enough as the skill of leading a dance is unbelievably hard to master and also simply takes time. But in the Argentine Tango, what with it’s unusual and tricky stance and posture, Bill was completely on his own. This led to a few little issues which the judges picked up on. But in most of the dance he did an incredible job for someone who has only been dancing for a few weeks and who’s only started learning this particular style last week. Really, it’s mind-boggling!
Technique is a means to an end
I always say that technique is a means to an end, not the be-all and end-all. However, it’s instrumental to grasp the technique well to tell the story or transmit the emotion of your dance successfully. Here, Bill didn’t master the technique well enough to deliver a flawless experience, but he achieved so much that I am astonished again and so glad he’s part of this year’s cohort. If the celebrities had more time, I’m sure he would do a tremendous job in this dance if he got to dance it again in the final 😉
Emotions in Musicals Week
This week, I was so moved by Ranvir’s story and by what JJ and Amy said. This is what dance is all about. Wherever you are in your life right now, dance at home by yourself or with friends and family and look out for local classes when they start again. Dancing is the best. You deserve to feel this good.
Week eight, the semi-final, is on BBC One at 7 pm on Saturday.
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