STRICTLY is a show that follows the great ballroom traditions to the letter: spray tans, sprayed hair and, most importantly, spray-on smiles to suggest it’s one big love-fest from start to finish.
Rifts, spats and even sexual naughtiness are airbrushed from out screens and it’s all about the mutual admiration society known as the Strictly Family.
Like all great reality shows though, it is primarily a competition and everyone out there on the floor will be desperate to either re-boot their careers or get their hands on that glitterball trophy.
Ambition means pressure and pressure means drama so who really gets on and who might be getting on a little too well?
CONFIDENT ROSE OUTSHINING GIOVANNI'S EGO PROBLEMS
By far the best value on the show in terms of their relationship, with Giovanni finally getting his come-uppance after years of using his charm and good looks to throw his celebrity partners into a smitten state of liquidity.
Rose is smart and funny and she gives Gio back as good as she gets.
The pair engage in sign-language banter and her comedy rejections of Gio: "I get to reject you at the end of the dance? Great!" with Gio’s "You want to reject me?" sad face and appealing eyes to camera as Rose sits clapping like a little seal are touching and fun.
Gio has grown a fringe which is a sure sign of ego problems and he has learnt sign language to form stronger bonds with Rose.
Her confidence and her courage have left him gazing at her in fond, face-softening affection and awe this year and the result has been some truly magical dancing from a couple who we have watched forming an authentically trusting relationship.
JOHN & JOHANNES' SIBLING BOND
A sibling-style bond developed between these two the moment they met and it seems to be enduring throughout their spectacular dance partnership.
Tactile and apparently mutually trusting they do, however, display some interesting power signals that might cause friction backstage if they happen to suffer from a bad week and need to re-think their routines.
It’s important the pro dancers take a high-status role with their celebrity partners to enable them to control the routines and call the shots during rehearsals.
With John and Johannes though it looks as though John is the stronger partner with Johannes looking more like his fan than the other way round.
It’s clearly working so far and their work is mesmerising but I’d love to be a fly on the wall if Johannes does need to draw on his experience and authority.
He took a custard pie in the face this week but hopefully he will pull rank if he needs to in terms of how they are going to progress.
It’s Johannes currently doing all the emotion though, crying happy tears after their routines while John offers the pats of reassurance.
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ADAM & KATYA FIERCE COMPETITIVNESS
Their profiles peaked with the miss-kiss last week but Katya is on a yellow card thanks to an authentic off-piste snog with Seann in 2018 so it was no surprise she pulled her head back like a scaled cat.
Katya and Adam seem to share industrial-strength levels of competitive ambition but his solo spots tend to look stronger than when they pair up together, which might be a sign that mutual trust isn’t established yet.
Adam loves to look into the camera and he dominates their interviews but, rather than enjoying the attention, he should still be putty in Katya’s arms if he’s going to let her take him to full potential.
They lack the kind of synchronicity and mirroring that suggests relaxed, strong bonds off the dance-floor and Katya’s anxiety hand-wring suggests she could be struggling a bit.
NANCY'S STRICT REGIME FOR RHYS
Rhys is emotionally pure putty when it comes to Nancy, who shows signs of putting the "Strict" in strictly to get the best out of his energy and talent.
Rhys was like a firework on week one and Nancy looks like she’s been trying to harness all his explosions of energy and dance talent.
She seems to be into tough love but it was clear from their dance-off this week that she’s going to need to create a balance between confidence and discipline with a very dejected-looking Rhys.
DAN & NADIA'S ZERO CHEMISTRY
Dan seems to have stalled in nice guy mode, clearly keen to act the perfect gent with Nadia but to the point where their routines are like an arid desert in terms of chemistry and sexual tension.
The judges must have kept the phrase "Oh Dan, I didn’t know you had it in you!" on ice for so long it’s thawed and vanished but clearly this "friend zone" relationship keeps Nadia and Dan smiling as well as his family.
They are so polite together they take it in turns to use eye contact, which suggests high levels of shyness at a stage in the competition where they should be looking relaxed together.
AMY'S MOTHERING WAY FOR TOM
Amy always looks like one of the kindest pro dancers which made her an odd pairing with stage-confident Tom.
He’s quietly professional and she’s got this faintly maternal vibe that he doesn’t need, but which has worked with most of her more nervous partners.
It’s all about the proud maternal smiles and pats of encouragement from Amy but Tom has to be a potential winner and he might just need more of a boot camp "Nancy" approach than a sweet "Amy" if he’s going to stretch himself in a year that is hotter than even in terms of talent.
FLIRTY AJ'S STRONG TRUST FOR KAI
Singleton status means these two don’t need to cower under the threat of the dreaded "Curse of Strictly" and can flirt and perform deeply sexual routines with a refreshing lack of inhibition.
As a result, we’re seeing Love Island body language off the floor as they sit gazing into each other’s eyes as they chat face to face and something borderline torrid on the floor as they showed what a miss-kiss really should look like.
AJ was so flirty with Kai last week, touching his chest and performing face-covering rituals of giggling coyness during rehearsals and their torso synchronicity out there on the floor suggests high levels of trust.
There’s a reverse psychology about Strictly that suggests the ones who say they are dating aren’t and the other way round but these two clearly have a well-balanced and rapport-filled relationship that is working.
NIKITA SECRET CONFIDENCE BOOST FOR TILLY
It was clear this week who Tilly gets a lot of her confidence from when she’s placed under pressure and that person is clearly Nikita.
As she chatted to her friends her feet were close together in a self-diminished display but as Nikita joined them she used a foot splay to suggest self-esteem.
Her eyes go to his face as she talks and she seems to enjoy any signals of approval or endorsement.
As he boosts her confidence we can see her begin to use partial splay gestures like one hand on her hip but she can also show some more anxious fiddling rituals too.
His body language toward her is consistently polite and quite formal, suggesting her dad will have nothing to complain about.
ALJAZ'S FLATTERY IS FALLING SHORT FOR SARA
This might not be the most relaxed and comfortable relationship of the show.
Sara is clearly an assertive and honest businesswoman and Aljaz’ s method of flattering her to boost her confidence on the dance floor seems to be falling a bit flat.
She rolled her eyes and showed a cynical expression after their dance this week as though she doubted all his gleeful rituals of mock-triumph.
Sara’s finger-picking showed inner anxiety but she might prefer straight talking form Aljaz rather than flattery.
Their emotional displays currently look at odds with with Aljaz holding her shoulders to stop her grimaces of apology at her performance while she pats him to stop as he starts to criticise the judges.
For more body language insights from Judi, check out "flirty" Kate Middleton and Prince William who looked more bonded than ever this summer.
Also Prince William & Harry showed bond despite rift at Diana statue unveiling- but smiles were "over-worked", an expert said.
Princes William & Harry were "relaxed in moment of unity" as they chatted at Philip’s funeral, a body language expert said.
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