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Strictly's Ian Waite on Rose and Giovanni's "insane" catch-lift and why AJ is "the best dancer"

The Strictly pro is back for another edition of his RadioTimes.com weekly column – The Waite List.

Ian Waite Strictly Column
Published: Monday, 6th December 2021 at 3:45 pm

BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing continued this weekend, and with the 2021 series airing its quarter-finals, the competition couldn't be tougher.

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The five remaining celebrities pushed their dancing skills to the limit on Saturday with a mixture of flashy Ballroom and Latin routines, however we sadly had to say goodbye to another couple on Sunday and after facing AJ Odudu in the dance-off, it was Dan Walker's time to leave.

With next week's semi-final fast approaching, former Strictly pro Ian Waite is back with another edition of his weekly column to break down last weekend's performances and dish out advice as the Strictly 2021 final comes into sight.

How did the Strictly couples do this week?

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe: Sadly, this wasn't a salsa for me. A salsa is made up of rhythmical hips and spins and fluidity. Apart from that, it was fun and full of energy. Just a shame the lift went wrong at the end.

Rhys Stephenson and Nancy Xu: A very determined, strong and powerful performance this week. The lifts were slick, stable and perfectly executed, although sometimes they stopped slightly abruptly. I think we all agree this was the best dance of the night.

Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice: Every time I feel relaxed that Rose will give me a great ballroom dance and this week was no exception. Brilliant hold and body position throughout, and the flying catch lift was insane.

Dan and Nadiya

Dan and Nadiya

Dan Walker and Nadiya Bychkova: This dance showed Dan's progression as a dancer. The character was very clear and I felt transported to Buenos Aires. To improve further, I feel Dan could open the chest and stretch the spine with the chin lifted.

AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington: This had so much potential to be AJ's best Latin dance so far. Unfortunately, there were a few mistakes throughout and one major slip in the lift at the end. Apart from this, the dance was full of wonderful content. It had rhythm, speed, fast spins and quick footwork. She's still a finalist for me.

Strictly High of the Week

Rose and Giovanni

Rose and Giovanni

The highlight for me was the flying catch-lift that Giovanni and Rose did. That lift was something we've never seen before. It had such a high element of risk but it actually paid off for them and was pretty sensational.

Strictly Low of the Week

AJ and Kai

AJ and Kai

As we were in the quarter-finals, everyone had tried to take risks so there were a lot of very difficult lifts in there, for the guys that did salsa and obviously the American smooth and the Argentine Tango.

Obviously, Dan couldn't do lifts in his Tango because it's not allowed, but I felt that the other four had really stepped it up with very, very difficult lifts so there was a very high risk factor. Sadly, two of them sort of failed at the last post and then two excelled so when you're in that situation, and you want to go that step further, you do have to put the risks in and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Ian’s Top Tip

Over the last 10-12 weeks, they've learnt lots and lots of technique so my tip for this week is to go out there and perform.

Semi-final week is this coming week and I expect to see them on a very high level of performance. It's all about the show. Don't worry about the technique, nobody really cares. They just want to see you perform.

Ian answers…

Are there any dances from the competition so far that you would like to see return for the semi-final?

I really loved AJ's opening jive – I thought this was ridiculous. Also, the tango that Rose and Giovanni did. For me, this was one of the best dances we've ever seen.

Who do you think is the strongest contender heading into next week?

That's a difficult one. For me, AJ is the best dancer, Rose is the most endearing and the most popular, and I think John and Johannes have the best chemistry.

So for me, it's a really difficult one because they all have so much to offer.

Waite’s Week

I actually tested positive for COVID last week, but the fortunate thing was that I just finished my tour so this was a relief. I've been in isolation now for nine days so it's my last day tomorrow. On Wednesday, I will be free to go out into the world but I've had very mild symptoms and I've really enjoyed being at home with the dogs.

I do have a busy week coming – I'm on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning, talking about Strictly. I'm in Leeds doing some performances with the wonderful Kristina Rihanoff, and then on Sunday, my dance fitness brand FitSteps has a Christmas party at the Blackpool Tower, so I'm very excited about that.

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Strictly Come Dancing airs every weekend on BBC One. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide or visit our Entertainment hub for the latest news. 

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