Strictly Review: Ashley Roberts and Pasha Kovalev

Ashley Roberts scored a hat trick after she received three 10s with her dance partner Pasha Kovalev for their Halloween themed Charleston. At the end of the night, they were joint top of the leaderboard with Faye Tozer and Giovanni Pernice.

Ashley and Pasha received a standing ovation from not only the audience but also from Bruno Tonioli and head judge Shirley Ballas after their “swivellious” Trolls-inspired routine. Bruno even exclaimed it was the highlight of the season so far. But what made it so good and stand out against the other Charleston routines we have seen so far?

First of all, I know what you are all going to say ‘She trained professionally!’ which is true, but let’s put that aside and take a look at the choreography and content on this dance which is what made it shine.

First of all, the pair are great at setting the scene. Pasha, the troll, puts a spell on Ashley, a bergen, to get her to fall in love with him. She executes the flapper walks and isolation steps of being under a spell perfectly. (If you are unclear of the reference, the characters are based on the Disney film Trolls).

Once the spell has been cast they break into Helicopters, Rock Steps and Charlestons in perfect sync. We see some other nice classic steps at 0:51 seconds where Ashley performs Camel Walks, Birdie Flaps, Lock Turns and Swivels on one leg which then goes straight into Charleston kicks across the body with two Bunny Hops. This is followed by Charleston in hold and a nice turning section. The whole section is jam packed and they keep going with great content as this is followed by Flapper Walks, a Basic Charleston with a kick and some lifts. 

As soon as they break out of the lifts, they perform two Smack the Babies and some classic Pushes and another seamless lift. Towards the end of the routine, they bring it back to the storyline where Ashley then tries to cast a spell on Pasha this time which leads to them throwing the spell book away and them being happy little trolls in love which each other.

What we love about this routine is the story and the choreography are perfectly put together. Sometimes the storylines are quite loose and don’t make sense but this one was clear and beautifully presented. It was also very fast, full of content and the pair of them were perfectly synchronised. Ashley is also the first celeb this series who has mastered the art of the swivel.

The only drawback to this routine is the music. The tune is so annoying that it distracts from the routine and If they had used something with a bit more swing, we could have seen some even more complicated steps with the use of cross phasing and syncopation which would have made it stand out even more. However, we are being picky and as this is a family show, I’m sure lots of kids loved the Disney reference and the music.

Judges Scores:

Bruno: "Astonishing! A magical spellbinding, exuberant, action packed, musical comedy Charleston. One of the best Strictly moments of the season." (Score: 10)

Craig: "Swi-vel-licious, darling." (Score: 9)

Darcey: "A terrific contrast from last week. How the choreography is led by the story, and that face was working as hard as the body." (Score: 10)

Shirley: "One of the best choreographic routines I've ever seen. Fantastic." (Score: 10) 

Our Score: 9