Last Saturday saw the semi-finals of Strictly Come Dancing come to a sparkling finish. Our very own Lauren Steadman and her partner AJ left the competition when she battled against Ashley Roberts in the dance-off. As the judges saved Ashley, yet again, from the third dance-off in a row, fans were outraged and took to social media to share their one, collective view: Ashley Roberts should not be in the final of Strictly, as Ashley Roberts is a professional dancer.
Lauren Steadman joined the show as a complete amateur to ballroom. She studied at the University of Portsmouth, achieving a First Class honours degree in Psychology, and then went on to complete a Masters degree in Business and Management, where she achieved a distinction. She has gone on to become a professional Paratriathlete, and has since competed in three Summer Paralympics, both in swimming and paratriathlon. She is also a European Champion six times over. She joined Strictly’s 2018 lineup as a beginner.
Ashley Roberts, however, was formerly part of the dance group The Pussycat Dolls, alongside Nicole Scherzinger. Former judge Arlene Phillips claimed that ballroom is different from other genres of dance, and “you have to be accurate,” and that’s true. Scriptwriting is no way the same as writing prose, and we’ve all heard the phrase “baking is a science, cooking is an art”.
“Baking may be different to cooking, but you still to know how to measure the ingredients, and what flavours complement each other. It’s not like starting completely from scratch.”
That being said, skills can be transferred. If you know how to plot a story and create well-rounded, realistic characters, you can apply that to script writing. Baking may be different to cooking, but you still to know how to measure the ingredients, and what flavours complement each other. It’s not like starting completely from scratch.
This is what puts Ashley at an advantage. Ashley has all the foundations for dance; the musicality, the rhyme, the attention to detail. After that, it’s just building on what she knows; where the majority of people, such as Lauren, don’t have that advantage, as they’ll still be learning the basics while Ashley is focusing on the technicals.
Is it because of this that Ashley has waltzed her way through to the final? The Strictly audience have never taken kindly to professional dancers, and it’s not hard to see why. The judges’ comments of wonder and amazement aren’t quite so believable when, in the back of head, you’re going, ‘well yeah, mine would be amazing too if I had fifteen years of dance experience.’ Would you have a contestant on Great British Bake-off if they worked in a restaurant? No; that competition is specifically for amateurs. So why should it change for Strictly?
Ashley will join Stacey Dooley, Joe Sugg and Faye Tozer in Saturday’s final.
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