Move over Len, Alesha, Craig and Bruno – Former Strictly Come Dancing winner Karen Hardy gives her judgement on the hits and misses as the celebs tackle a jive or a Viennese Waltz.

Joe Calzaghe and Zoe Lucker were in the dance-off – do you think they deserved to be there?
“The biggest shock of the series so far! Zoe – absolutely no way, absolutely not! It was quite a shock and I was sat there doing a live radio interview and I thought ‘Oh my God Craig and Jo Wood are through! Who will be in the dance off?’ It will be really hard for her because she’s been in the top for a while now, she’s not been down the bottom and she’s been told by the judges how good she is – then you get this shock from the public saying otherwise. Joe was going to be down there at some point – the frustrating thing is that he had actually improved. There were a couple of them that should have been down there but definitely not Zoe.”

So do you think it was right that Joe went and not Zoe?
“Yes, if it comes down to the judges’ opinion in a dance-off – it was really clear that Zoe should stay and I think the judges would be shocked that she was even put in that position on Saturday.”

In their last dance Joe and Kristina showed a lot of chemistry and there has been a lot of press coverage of their relationship – how do you think that affected their dancing?
“I don’t think it would of affected their dancing, as dancers we have a job to do and there’s lots of things that sidetrack us regularly but when it comes to delivering the goods we do. You get all mixes of people who come on the show, with Joe he’s one of those people who would of needed a bit more time. Anybody can learn to dance but some take a bit longer than others – Joe falls into that category. I don’t think that their relationship would have affected it at all.”

Jade and Ian got their highest score to date and the joint highest score of the series – what did you think of their Viennese Waltz?
“I just thought it was incredible. You’ve got an athlete, very driven, a very strong person – she’s nailing these dances with her muscular ability, where she’s so physically strong. With something like a Viennese Waltz where you go round and round and round – you could easily buckle. I just knew this would be an easy dance for her once she’d nailed those steps because there’s not a lot of steps to learn in a Viennese Waltz. It’s a lot about endurance – it’s a hard dance to endure so I wasn’t surprised at all because I knew she’d get a high mark on that.”

She pinched Ian’s bottom as they walked over to the judges – they seem to have a really good relationship!
“They do! It’s not a sign of affection in the way everyone wants but it’s sort of ‘Hey you know what? I think I did all right’ – You want that support from a dancer. So pinching his bum must have meant she felt really confident in what she was doing and a little bit cheeky. I think it’s great that sort of chemistry – it’s fantastic.”

Ali and Brian got their lowest score so far with their jive – how do you think they did?
“We’re expecting so much more from Ali because in the early days people were comparing her to Ricky Whittle – top boy, top girl. It’s the high expectation thing – the natural human body will always judge on expectations even if they should be judging on what they see there and then. I’m one of the many people who were expecting so much more and obviously so were the judges. The thing is with this dance – jive is the Latin dance as quickstep is the ballroom dance – it will be the hardest one for any of them to master. I think we’re going to see some great dances out of her but at the moment she’s still finding her feet.”

Brendan took Jo Wood away from the judges after Craig Revel Horwood called her a ‘bush kangaroo’ – what did you think about his reaction?
“It’s the same every year with Brendan and Strictly – he loves to leave his little mark somewhere and as soon as he’s given his opportunity to, he will. He just thought: ‘I normally go from the green room, why don’t I go from the dance floor this time?’ He is also someone who wears his heart on his sleeve and he always has and if he’s got an opinion he makes sure everyone knows it. Most people will wait until he’s up at the bar, Brendan shows it as soon as he feels it. Some people like it, some people don’t like it but I think that’s what makes the show.”

Alesha said Ricky Whittle was ‘back in the zone’ after failing to impress the judges last week – did you like his Viennese Waltz?
“It was lovely, it was a beautiful dance. It’s not a difficult dance – he had to make sure he held his arms up which we knew he could do and he had to master a couple of the steps. It wouldn’t have been a really challenging dance for him so it was lovely and it was what I expected from him.”

Laila and Anton were given their lowest score to date and it was pointed out that they are better at ballroom than Latin – how will this affect their chances in the competition?
“They want to save those ballroom dances now, they want to get rid of the Latin dances – it’s like playing poker and getting rid of your bad cards. Laila is very skilled and I’d like to see more in the choreography, even the jive that Anton chose was very classical and simple. I think she needs more challenging steps. She looked stunning, incredible, but the dance just didn’t work. Once she breaks away from Anton she’s got to be able to stand her own ground so she needs to be learning that now.”

Craig and Flavia were clearly relieved not to be in the bottom two again – how do you think they did this week?
“I still don’t like it, from a rhythmical point of view. The thing is it’s nothing to do with him as a person but it’s just from a technical dancing point of view. It’s definitely better and if that’s what you’re marking, an improvement, then he should not have been in the bottom two. But I just think when you’re comparing him and judging him against the others it’s different. I’m a great believer in the audience saying what they like, ‘This is who we want, we want these to stay and these to go.’ That’s one of the reasons I love the show – everyone has to be on their guard. Like we saw with Zoe who we thought was safe, Craig we thought was going to go and the exact opposite happened – it’s things like that that make the show so exciting.”

This week seemed to be the most surprising so far.
“Yes, absolutely. This has put all of the professionals on guard as well – when someone as good as Zoe is put in the bottom two. Normally the middle people on the scoreboard tend to go but Zoe was up there with about 30 points and she’s delivered all these great dances previously – you would never have thought that that would happen.”

Karen has just launched a state-of-the-art dance studio in the heart of Chelsea. To find out more about expert tuition for all levels, visit Karen’s website

karen studios

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