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The quarter finals of Strictly Come Dancing approached this week, and yes, I know you're all wondering how that has happened so quickly. With just two weeks left until Strictly finishes for the year, one good dancer was bound to leave the competition this week. On top of performing a standard dance, the couples also had to master the waltz for the waltzathon, which was nowhere near as exciting as previous years' Swingathons. But before that could happen the dancers had to prove themselves in the competition, and with just five marks between the top and bottom couple at the end of their first dance, it was close to call.
Opening the show was Simon and Kristina with an American Smooth. The judges praised Kristina for covering up Simon's weak points, something which was pleasant to see as the pro dancers aren't often praised for their hard work. Simon's American Smooth was full of dramatic emphasis and his footwork was neat and tidy. He started the evening with 35 and was soon followed by Caroline and Pasha. The judges praised her shaping and intensity for her Argentine Tango but, personally, I couldn't feel the passion of the dance, although she didn't put a foot wrong. With a score of 39 the judges seemed to love it. Jake and Janette were equally popular. After last week's dance disaster, they were back on form with a Charleston. It was full of stunning lifts, goofy facial expressions and a lot of slapstick. They finished with 38 points and second on the leader board.
In contrast, it wasn't such a great week for Frankie and Kevin, who finished bottom of the leader board after their salsa. The judges thought it was quite haphazard, and Frankie's dismount from lifts wasn't as clean as they had hoped it would be. She was the lowest scorer of the night with 34 points. Just one point ahead were Mark and Karen and Pixie and Trent. Mark and Karen's foxtrot was sweet and neat, showing that he has improved throughout the competition. Pixie and Trent have consistently found themselves near the top of the board, but this week Pixie was criticised for having stiff legs for her cha cha, and head judge Len wasn't impressed with the amount of lifts involved in the dance.
The waltzathon didn't change too much, but it did help Pixie and Trent climb up the leader board after winning the dance. It simply involved all of the couples waltzing on the floor at the same time, but the judges ranked them. Whoever came bottom gained one point and whoever came top earned six points. Unfortunately for Jake he was pushed from second place after finishing last in the waltzathon. It was difficult to see who was the best, and all the judges could manage to say was 'thank goodness no one crashed into each other.' Definitely bring back the swingathon next year, as it was easier to judge and more entertaining.
But the leader board didn't particularly matter this week, as the dance-off featured Pixie and Trent and Simon and Kristina. The latter couple have often found themselves in hits predicament, but it was a shock for Pixie and Trent who had never been in the dance-off. After a tense second round of dancing, the judges cast their votes. With Darcy voting to save Simon and Bruno and Craig backing Pixie, it was up to Len to make the casting vote. The X Factor would have gone to deadlock, but here Len holds all the power. After a speech about making the right decision for him, Len sent Pixie and Trent packing, a decision which shocked the majority of people. Although she has been consistent, it seemed she hadn't improved as much as Simon had.
With only five contestants left the semi-finals arrives next week and the couples have to take on two dances instead of just one. It will be interesting to see how they cope with the different dances and whether anyone can achieve perfection with the final so close.
Best Facial Expressions of the Night: Jake was on form with his Charleston face. Definitely not how Max Branning from Eastenders behaves.
Best Barbie and Ken Lookalike of the Night: Pixie and Trent were channelling the 80s look with matching pink clothing.
Most Surreal Moment of the Night: Why was Frankie forced to wear some kind of paper mache welder's mask before her routine?