Keep Dancing

You wouldn’t have known Robin Windsor had suffered from a back injury from the way he was dancing. 

I mean, wow, that man can move!

Keep Dancing, starring Robin Windsor, Anya Garnis and guest star Louis Smith, has been touring across the U.K. Director and choreographer Emma Rogers, along with her associate Innis Robertson King, created the stunning performance with help from Windsor along the way. The show is a cheeky, lively, fun-filled night with moments of serenity and beauty.

This tour has similarities to Anton Du Beke’s tours. Both don’t have stories like a musical would, but each dance has its own journey and emotion. There are also live singers who have the chance to perform solo, plus all the glitz and glamour you need from a frock.

They’re similar yet incredibly different. I’m a ballroom girl and that’s what Du Beke gives me. His show has almost no latin dances. He’s the King of Ballroom. He doesn’t need a jive or samba to capture your interest. His classic, traditional, Fred Astaire style is all I ask for and I’m given that every time.

However, Windsor’s show has more variety. I think almost every dance that appears on Strictly Come Dancing also appeared in Keep Dancing – and then some. Along with the traditional, there were also contemporary modern numbers thrown in. For someone younger like myself, I adored this change of pace, but I was uncertain how the older members of audience would feel. Regardless, I enjoyed the modern dances as it gave the show it’s own unique twist.

Am I saying it’s than Anton though? Of course not! Anton will always be my number one. However, that doesn’t mean Keep Dancing wasn’t good.

My favourite dance was definitely Windsor’s rumba with Garnis. I usually hate the rumba because it’s always so awkward to watch. It’s like I’ve walked in on a private moment and I’m nothing more than a peeping tom. However, Windsor changed my mind. The music intertwined with the choreography made the dance incredibly moving, beautiful and sweet.

Furthermore, the return of Louis Smith was a joyful throwback. Myself and my mother, with our Strictly Obsession Degree, both agreed he was stiff around the hips but I can’t blame him after taking time out to go to a little event called the Olymics. Nevertheless, I still dislike his man bun.

However, I do have a complaint – and not just for Windsor but for Strictly and any other shows like it. I beg you, please, please, please employ singers that can sing the songs you require them to. Especially if the performer has an old-fashioned kind of voice and you want to change the pace by inserting modern music. Someone who can sing like Judy Garland can hardly sing like Nicki Minaj. 

I’m not suggesting that these singers have no talent, but I felt their voices struggled to cope with the songs the show was throwing at them. During some numbers I thought they had a beautiful voice only to be sitting a moment later begging them to stop trying to hit the notes the tune required. Just because someone’s an alto, a soprano, and the original singer was too, it doesn’t mean they can sing the song beautifully.

But one woman who was flawless throughout, and deserves a massive shoutout, was Lisa-Marie Holmes. I would be happy to hear her on Strictly any Saturday night.

I was surprised that Windsor didn’t experiment with same sex dance couples. He voiced his passion for this change during his time on Strictly Come Dancing but the show has not made the daring move. I expected Windsor to showcase the possibilities in his show but there was only one number that was all-male. This dance was a contemporary, paso doble and the men were rarely in hold – and being in hold during the paso isn’t very close or long anyway. I was slightly disappointed but I understood that maybe this was a risk he wasn’t personally willing to take against the critics.

During this all-male dance, each male appeared onstage topless. It was easy to see each individual body shape so it was easy to tell that each dancer was incredibly different. Some had large muscles, some were quite lanky, some were small whereas others had a bit more padding around the waist, but regardless of how they looked one thing was very clear – they could all dance. This revelation is the one I remember the most about the show and will take away to my ordinary life. It doesn’t matter how you look or what society tells you, if you train hard enough, you’ll still be as good as the bloke with massive shoulders.

But, boy, does Robin have massive shoulders!

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me at @freetheleaves 🙂 


I, Daniel Blake

As soon as I saw the trailer for this film, I knew I wanted to see it. I was weeping at the few clips witnessed so I knew I wouldn’t exit the cinema dry eyed. I wasn’t the only one. However, I do think I was the only one who had to be asked if I was okay. I wasn’t.

I, Daniel Blake follows the story of, guess who, Daniel Blake, who is played by Dave Johns. An elderly gentleman, who has lost his wife and recently suffered from a heart attack, has been told he cannot work. His struggle with the welfare system and his relationship with a young mother (Hayley Squires) and her children (Briana Shann and Dylan McKiernan) carry the story. I found it a beautifully touching tale that shows the people behind benefits.

Combining Ken Loach’s direction and Paul Laverty’s script, this film is beautifully executed. I found the opening of the film very smart. The titles were able to roll, uninterrupted by visuals, as we heard dialogue between our main character and his interviewer. This made us really focus on what was being said. Furthermore, I find it incredibly inspiring that the viewer is able to know, understand and connect with the character before we even see him. I think this easily shows how experienced Ken Loach is.

The long, continuous shots present in many areas of the film make it seem incredibly realistic. There were also points – for example, the scene in the food bank – where moments seemed improvised. It felt like Loach looked for real food bank volunteers and simply asked to film. My boyfriend said he felt the same way when watching the scene of Daniel Blake writing the vandalised title I, Daniel Blake. He found the crowd’s reaction genuine. However, I don’t know if our hunches are correct as there are no clues on the web. 

There is a statement on IMDb which explains that Squires (the main female role) was not given the complete script at any point during filming. She was merely given snippets during the process. Therefore she never knew what would happen next since the film was completely shot in chronological order. I think this is an interesting angle to choose but I fail to see the purpose. It seems, to me, more of a disadvantage on her part than to help her acting. But don’t get me wrong, I found every acting performance spot on.

I personally found the entire film touching, hard hitting and heartbreaking. From Daniel Blake’s first line of dialogue, I knew he was perfect. Flawed, endearing, rebellious, he was an incredibly believable character. His age made his character humorous yet frustrating – but in a good way. The fact he cannot work modern technology shows the failures within the welfare system and the struggles older members of society face. I felt frustrated for the character during the process of the story so it seemed obvious to me that Laverty succeeded in his writing.

The same goes for Katie – the frustrated, caring, pushed to her limits, mother of two. Unlike Daniel, she has to put her children first and do unspeakable things in order to keep them healthy and happy. It was her struggles that were the most shocking to me as I feel any mother would do the same.

Overall, I feel the film shows both the good and the bad in the main characters, showing the stereotypes of those seeking benefits but also explaining why they act that way is what makes the film so rounded and fair.

However, just 10 minutes into the showing, my boyfriend whispers into my ear, “I don’t like this.” I sat puzzled at his statement since my heartstrings were continuously being pulled. What was not to like? 

After leaving the cinema, he told me he did not like the way the workers in the welfare system were represented. He told me that the mean, rude dementor of the workers were to benefit the film’s message and did not show that it was not their fault for the system failing. They had abuse thrown at them simply because they are the face of the company when they are not responsible for what happens to their clients.

I understood what he meant but I had to disagree. The workers were only to symbolise the bigger picture. Every film needs a villain, a force of evil, and, sadly for workers at the welfare system, that was them. I felt this bias was justified since Laverty included a nice worker into the mix. She did her best to help Daniel but was told to stop. I felt this showed the struggles these workers go through. They want to help these people but they’re told this isn’t company policy. 

Although I disagree with him, I do completely understand since, at times, it felt like charades were overly rude. Maybe I’ve simply been blessed with nice people all my life but I fail to believe every person Daniel Blake came into contact with made his life a misery and was swearing awful to him. 

However, I still found the opposing forces believeable and justifiable. 

So if you’re out and wanting to watch something at your local cinema, of course I would recommend this film. Don’t go in empty handed, though, cause you will need something to mop up those tears.

And if it inspires you to do some good or need some good done to you, check out the Trussell Trust here:

And remember we are all citizens, nothing less and nothing more.

Thank you for reading! Let me know your opinion in the comments below or tweet me at @freetheleaves