TX 4 – I Hear its All About the Headbanger
Before heading (pun #1) into comments on the skates, a quick update on my schedule: I might be posting a bit later (not during the show) the next few weeks, as I’ll be traveling. The good news is that it will give you the chance to send questions/comments that I can respond to in the post!
You can learn more about what goes into the steps and turns that are a part of this week’s Judges’ Challenge in my #TuesdayMoveday on my IGTV Instagram @mbs_seaturtlepig.
Sadly, it seems we lost Ryan for the week. Hopefully, he heals up quickly!
In the order they skated:
James Jordan & Alexandra Schaumann “Land of a Thousand Dances,” Wilson Pickett
I continue to be impressed with this team, though it is helped by the fact that the routine is based on a dance that James knows. The Lindy Hop sections were very strong, but there were a couple of mistakes on the footwork in the Judge’s Challenge - I like that the judges clearly indicated the score would have been higher if the footwork challenge had been cleaner. Love their performance quality & James’ full on effort! Overall, I would encourage James to continue to work on the alignment of his body over the ball of his feet as he begins to explore the other linear dimensions of figure skating. He is at a point where he needs to include more body lean into the circle as he executes his elements.
Saara Aalto & Hamish Gaman “Symphony,” Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson
This team is also shaping up to be one of my favorites - I just love Saara’s upbeat, positive attitude and how she brings that to the ice. The mini-lifts in this program fit well with the music, and I especially liked the ending pair spin. Saara’s Judges’ Challenge was well-skated with Hamish, though I do think James’ solo work in that section was more challenging overall. Great program! I encourage Saara to skate a bit more solo from Hamish as the choreography was connected, what seemed to be, the entire time. She has comfort on her own - let her fly.
Didi Conn & Lukasz Rozycki “Eye of the Tiger,” London Music Works
This was a cute concept, but I feel the skating is not improving. The whole 1st part of the program, from the tunnel was simply a 2-foot glide, followed by push-ups and lifts. Very little skating. I felt her pro sort of pushed her through the steps/turns of the Judges’ Challenge, so don’t give much credit for that. I love her positivity, but the skating is falling behind others – thank goodness she’s a great performer!
Gemma Collins & Matt Evers “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” Celine Dion
This is the Gemma I was hoping to see on the show. If the focus had been there from the beginning, I’ve no doubt her skills would be much farther along. I feel that the weakest part continues to be that Gemma isn’t comfortable skating on her own – it was basically all 2-foot glide and supported by her pro until the end. Then, unfortunately, she fell – but good for Gemma for going for that – keep building on it. My least favorite part of this – the smoke which basically covered her feet so it is difficult to properly evaluate the Judges’ Challenge.
Melody Thornton & Alex Demetriou “Sax,” Fleur East
Definitely the best performance quality so far – great musicality, all in character! Again, like James, it helps that this is a movement style Melody is comfortable with, but it’s great to see it put together with proper skating. Great job on the Judges’ Challenge! More impressed with that than the big tricks of the Detroiter & Headbanger – but to put it all in one program in week 4. Go Get ‘Em Melody!! Much Like Saara, I feel that the program could include much more solo skating to express her comfort with the edges.
Wes Nelson & Vanessa Bauer “Sign of the Times,” Harry Styles
The slower music showed some of the weaknesses in Wes’ skating that I mentioned in prior weeks – no pointed toes, not terribly graceful, the lift was a bit labored. But, there is a lot in the program for a relatively new skater. I don’t agree with the commentator re: the back 3-turn really isn’t harder than proper brackets, rockers and counters, and I still prefer those who attempted solo steps at this stage. This program actually exposed his discomfort with knee and ankle bend and his reliance on having a strong back. Most of the motions, if not all, were labored due due to breaking in the pelvis and using the lower back muscles in order to achieve the executed elements. I would very much encourage Wes to revisit the basics and then use that to provide a strong foundation for future difficult elements.
Brian McFadden & Alex Murphy “With or Without You,” U2
I agree with the judges that Brian is improving each week. I like that this program moves in all directions, and that Brian has good forward and backward crossovers. I felt that the steps at the beginning were a nice approach to the Judges’ Challenge, but would have loved to see them done with a bit more power and glide, rather than “stepped” through. The judges are on point with regards to Brian – he just needs to believe he can skate – it’s in there. Just don’t hold back!
Saira Khan & Mark Hanretty “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Bonnie Tyler
This is a good slow program to compare with Wes’ to demonstrate what I mean by slower programs showing weaknesses and strengths in skating skills. Saira’s skating has true edges and glide that results from using edges, as well as finish like correctly pointed toes. It demonstrates Mark has taught her the basics of skating and that she has a developing understanding of how skating moves build on those basics. I agree that her Judges’ Challenge was the cleanest, and it is pretty done fully as an in-hold step sequence, but I would prefer to see some of that skating done solo at this stage. This would prove the celeb can do the steps, unsupported by a pro. Saira deserves more credit than she is getting! Tell her kids I said so!
Jane Danson & Sylvain Longchambon “Dancing,” Kylie Minogue
Jane’s performance is just too tentative – she just looks uncomfortable with the dancing. I’m not a fan of programs that start with 2-foot glides covered by other skaters on the ice, and – as Ashley noted – the lift positions were just awkward. I feel Jane is another skater that is holding back, and she just needs to develop some confidence. As for the Judges’ Challenge – well, the camera was above her feet for part of it, which isn’t great, but it looked like a solid attempt, though mostly stepped through rather than truly skated.
Saara Aalto & Hamish Gaman
This team shouldn’t be in the skate-off at all! Get those Winter Wonderland fans voting! That was a well-skated program with new elements - a Salchow, nice straight line step sequence, solo spin, nice pair spin. Very strong! No doubt I would have saved this team.
Didi Conn & Lukasz Rozycki
Didi is just adorable, and I’m sad to see her go, but the skating wasn’t even close to Saara’s. Too much standing still to start, basic stroking, lunge, assisted jump - it was a sweet program, but not at the same levle as Saara’s.
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Thanks for reading!!