Will Bayley and his partner Janette Manrara are through to week four of Strictly Come Dancing after dancing a Pokemon themed paso doble to the theme song ‘Gotta catch ’em all’ on Saturday’s Movie Night. The dynamic duo (#TeamPocketRacket) produced another entertaining performance that scored a total of 23 with the judges and received enough votes from the public to dance again next Saturday.
The lyrics of the song which include ‘Every challenge along the way with courage I will face’ could have been written for Bayley as he found the paso doble the most challenging dance he has tackled so far in the competition.
“I really struggled through the week to be honest,” he said, “and even on Friday and Saturday morning when we were going through it I was making a lot of mistakes and losing balance quite a lot. Holding the shapes that I needed to hold without feeling like I was going to fall over was really hard. Some of them were really stretched out and I had to make banana shapes with my body and my feet didn’t feel totally planted into the floor which is what you need to do. So I was struggling to make the shapes that I wanted to and are what the judges look for in the dance. I also struggled with my balance and to feel comfortable with the dance. The last two dances I have been using Janette for balance a lot of the time, which has allowed me to emphasise what I’m good at and hidden what I’m not good at, but for this dance I was on my own a lot so I had a few balance problems which didn’t bring out the best in me.”
While the judges marks were slightly lower than for his first two dances it is clear that they appreciate his total commitment and feel he can improve further.
“You attacked it like a demon,” said Bruno Tonioli. “Fire, passion, aggression – which is all correct for the paso doble – but you can do artistry as well.”
Head judge Shirley Ballas agreed that Bayley now needs to work on his artistry, commenting: “It had a lot of power but it was also very staccato and I would have liked to have seen continuous body movement throughout the shapes that you were making,” while Craig Revel Horwood said: “It was full of strength and it had intent and purpose so well done.”
While the judges now want to see more from Bayley his partner Manrara has no doubt that he can continue to impress.
“I really believe in him,” she said on Saturday night, “and he can and will do so much on this show, I just know it. He is amazing.”
“On the night it was probably the best we have done it,” Bayley admits. “Janette is quite honest the way she feeds back to me and she said ‘you couldn’t have done it any better so be happy with that’. It was really demoralising when I saw the five from Shirley but Janette said ‘you shouldn’t really be worrying about the scores from the judges you should just be thinking we did the best we could have done and if I’m happy then you should be happy’ and then I thought OK that sounds good. Because at the end of the day she knows what I can do and she was happy with what I did. It was one of those dances that was always going to be a struggle for me and I still really enjoyed the performance. It was really fun and it was a great atmosphere and I got a lot of great comments and support so there are a lot of positives to take from it.
“The amount of support I have had has been amazing; I’ve even had people coming up to me in the street and saying ‘I love your dancing and you’re my favourite person on Strictly’. All the brilliant comments have motivated me so much to try and keep on improving because people are voting for me which is really great and it means I have to keep on improving to stay in the competition as long as I can.”