And then there were three… Zakeeya Patel and Ryan Hammond, Thapelo Mokoena and Hayley Bennet and Lalla Hirayama and Grant Esterhuizen are the finalists of SABC3’s Strictly Come Dancing.
While the judges opinions were clear for all to see, the joker in the pack was the viewers vote. Thapelo Mokoena and Halyley Bennet may have been at the bottom of the pack but were saved from the dance-off in a shock move as the viewers asserted themselves, leaving Graeme Richards and Lindsey Muckle to fight it out with Lalla Hirayama and Grant Estherhuizen.
Richards and Muckle were the casualties of this high stakes round as they failed to impress in a fierce dance-off against consistently great couple, Hirayama and Esterhuizen.
With the introduction of the dramatic Spanish pasodoble dance and the racy South American infused tango on the penultimate evening of the competition, there were bound to be missteps and dodgy timing issues.
Having missed last week due to illness, Lalla Hirayama showed incredible character by continuing to compete and demonstrated that one can triumph over adversity. She and Grant Esterhuizen were first on the dance floor, and their tango was good but the judges did say they wished the couple could have given more. Their second performance – the pasodoble – was better. It was more assured and slick yet lacked a bit in character. The judges pleaded for more fire and more magic.
Graeme Richards and Lindsey Muckle survived last week by the skin of their teeth. They followed with a pasodoble that impressed the judges and earned the couple compliments for a technically solid performance. While the judges hinted at technicality issues in Graeme’s tango performance, they did laud him for his improvement in musicality, timing, discipline and control. Sadly it was too little too late though.
Competition darlings Zakeeya Patel and Ryan Hammond continued their brilliance, scoring another 10 and achieving the best score for the tango. The best compliments were reserved for Zakheya and Ryan for their pasodoble; “spectacular…on fire… being cited as having the best choreography of the season, and so on”. The judges were just as generous with the points, awarding them the highest of the season – 28 sterling points for both dances.
Thapelo Mokoena and Hayley Bennet who have shown that consistency is key in the competition delivered on the showmanship of the pasodoble but the judges still found it wanting for its lack of finesse and fluidity. The couple however had a deadly trick up their sleeves; their Dracula inspired tango thrilled the studio audience but drew concern from the judges for its lack of dance and control.
The competition has hit the final stretch and the couples have to push themselves one last time for the ultimate prize of R25 000 each. It is fair to say if they have not mastered certain dance elements by now, then it may be too late.
At the end of the night the leader board read as follows;
Zakeeya Patel & Ryan Hammond 56
Lalla Hirayama & Grant Esterhuizen 51
Graeme Richards & Lindsey Muckle 47
Thapelo Mokoena & Hayley Bennet 44
Strictly Come Dancing airs on SABC 3 Wednesdays from 20:00 to 22:00.