Hot on the heels of our week 1 Jive, it was back to ballroom basics with our week 2 dance – the Foxtrot – my all-time favourite, as many of you will know! But were we a week 1 wonder? Would we be able to transition from Latin to Ballroom in mere days?… This was to be a pivotal week in our training and our progress could so easily suffer under the quickly mounting pressures!…
After our first competition dance, to sit safely in the middle of the leaderboard was in fact an enormous confidence boost. No overbearing expectation to repeat a leaderboard-topping performance, and barring a dancefloor-disaster, very slim chance of leaving the show in the first elimination; the mathematics were on our side.
That’s no reason, however, to rest on laurels… indeed, there was very little time for any kind of rest! In many ways, this second week generally proves to be one of the most challenging weeks of the competition. The celebrities have a good lead-up to week 1, perhaps two weeks to get the first dance under their belts. Then it’s all change, things ramp up a gear and the pressure’s really on with less than a week, perhaps 5 days, to learn dance number two. No mean feat, particularly when it involves a novice switching from a Jive to a Foxtrot!
Of course, everyone’s in the same boat, but I must doff my hat to Emma for juggling her Eastenders commitments with her Strictly training – and not skimping on either. What a professional!
Now, the Foxtrot is a tricky dance, and there was a lot of ground to cover in getting those ballroom basics ready for the judges’ scrutiny.
— Emma Barton (@EmmaBarton) September 25, 2019
I was keen for us to perform a beautiful, classic, flowing Foxtrot … but of course, for our dance to look simple and elegant on the surface – and to score good points – would require a full complement of judge-pleasing steps.
Emma, I’m delighted to say, took those steps in her stride (even if she didn’t realise at the time!), and by the end of the week’s dress run, we had the routine off pat and ready to perform!
What you can’t prepare for are those last minute jitters, and on the night, any slight slips were I’m sure, simply a result of those. But from start to finish, I thought Emma gave a wonderful, confident performance. The music, the theming, the costumes – all were perfect for staging a timeless dance: and every second of it flowed beautifully as we traversed the floor in hold. What I particularly loved were all our turns and spins, especially Emma’s heel turns which to her credit, didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. Emma was elegance personified, and gave a Foxtrot to be proud of!
— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) September 28, 2019
The judges, I’m delighted to say, were particularly encouraging! It’s to be expected that they picked up on slight lapses with gapping, flow, top line, rhythm and so on, but what about this…
Bruno: “You have the right feel and potential for ballroom.”
Craig: “You have real dance talent and it’s wonderful to see.”
Motsi: “I see a dancing queen when I see you.”
Shirley: “You actually had flashes of brilliance.”
All my Christmases had come at once! Can we have those comments every week please?!
The scores came in as sixes across the board for a total of 24 – one more than last week – we’ve improved! And to hear that, my loves, is like music to my ears!
After all the scores were tallied-up from 14 other sterling performances, we finished in seventh place once again, firmly in that leaderboard middle-ground.
The tension among the couples was truly palpable as the results show got underway, as you can imagine. The reality of the first elimination struck our celebrities and the backstage exuberance of the main show was gone.
After last year’s early exit, I wasn’t counting any chickens and, I’m sure, was more relieved that Emma to make it through to week 3! Thank you all for your votes and support!
— BBC Strictly ✨ (@bbcstrictly) September 29, 2019
David James and James Cracknell however didn’t fare as well and had to face the first dreaded dance-off of the series. After valiant reprises of their routines with respective partners Nadiya and Luba, the judges unanimously saved David, and our sporting hero James became the first to leave the show; a bittersweet moment for us all.
The show must go on, of course, and week 3 is… drumroll please… Movie Week! Now, this is particularly exciting for me as my 2020 Tour with Erin Boag is based around our most favourite movie themes – “Anton & Erin – Dance Those Magical Movies“, and I’m very partial to getting into character! I’ll let you into a ‘top secret’… this week, I am to become that fabled International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers… and Emma and I will be dancing a Salsa to the movie’s Soul Bossa Nova theme tune.
I think the word you’re looking for is ‘unmissable’!
See you on the dance floor, BBC1, Saturday 7.10pm my loves… it’s going to be ‘Groovy, baby!’