Week seven saw one very traditional Paso Doble. I love the variety of interpretations we get to see on Strictly Come Dancing, from traditional choreographies to themed, modern, pushing the boundaries and downright weird settings. It’s a fountain of inspiration for artists and lots of fun.
Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden Paso Doble to Amparito Roca by Jamie Texidor
For me this is Tom’s full arrival in the competition. Something happened on the night, everything came together. It’s that special moment when the celebrities move from accomplishing steps and achieving incredible things with the support of their partners to taking ownership themselves with an independence that is just unbelievable for having danced just a few weeks.
Embodying the challenging character of the traditional Paso Doble
I felt that Tom grasped the character of the dance. He really embodied the arrogance of the historical Spanish bullfighter and I mean that positively. Imagine a person that chooses to fight bulls. It takes a daring, an audacity, a degree of feeling superior to a formidable, dangerous animal. This is not about approving or not of the practise of bullfighting itself. It’s that in a traditional interpretation of the Paso Doble I expect to see that historical characterisation and Tom delivered it 100%.
Strength, balance and being on the edge in dance
Along with that went very advanced leading skills and an accomplished command of his body to the music.
Tom invested strength so efficiently and expertly. For example during the manipulation of the cape: his whole body is rooted to the soil (I say soil because I can clearly feel and see the bull fighting arena around him!), while his upper body extends literally into the cape and space beyond itself. Another clear example is the final position: it’s such a difficult pose to get yourself into safely, without hurting yourself. It needs strength, musicality and feeling and all three working together perfectly. When accomplished it’s extremely powerful, emotional and elegant.
Tom also often pushed himself right to the edge of his balance, but maintained it. We can see this right at the beginning after the three pirouettes (!) and the stag jump, which are extremely explosive and right on the edge of what he’s capable of, followed by these deep, controlled knee slides.
That’s where you want to be, because that’s where it’s exciting. I’m amazed at the degree of physical knowledge of his own abilities Tom displayed here. This is not something you can only intellectually grasp, it’s a physical knowledge and evidence that he’s made that exciting transition to truly dancing.
Ballet technique in the Paso Doble
Motsi and Shirley mentioned that Paso Dobles can be interpreted with classical ballet technique. We see that here in Tom’s lovely carriage of the arms. It’s clear he didn’t just move them, but that they where an extension of his character and connected to within. I often think that learning some ballet technique and concepts would benefit the celebrities on their journey, as ballet is great for connecting inner strength to the extremities of the body, as well as many other aspects of dance.
I assume Amy must’ve known that Tom was at this breakthrough point, because in this choreography she really showcases him and gives him space to prove himself. Tom said that he loved learning the Paso Doble and it shows. Thank you for such an inspiring and exciting dance.
Special mention for John and Johannes’ Rumba and Kai and AJ’s Charleston
I haven’t got space here today to go into detail, but my oh my! The Rumba and Charleston are some of my favourite dances and these two performances gave me life! John and Johannes were so sensitive and sensual with their Rumba and Kai and AJ so exuberant with their Charleston. Between those two extremely different performances they show what dance is all about: dancing the highs and lows, the quiet and big, the sad and happy moments of life. Expressing life in all its facets, nuances and complexities, and celebrating it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I cannot wait for the next show! Watch it on BBC One on Saturday 13th November 2021, at 6.40pm.
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