Ola & James Jordan's Strictly verdict: Rose's terrifying lift, John's mistake and AJ's connection with Kai

Another Saturday, another night of Strictly Come Dancing. Week 11 of the competition saw the five remaining celebrity-professional couples face a nail-biting quarter-final, pulling off some of their most daring dances to date.

SEE: Strictly's AJ Odudu left fighting back tears after dance 'disaster' in quarter-final

From Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice's staggering “leap of faith” jump to AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington's unforgettable mistake landing them at the bottom of the leaderboard, the divided judges gave some of their most controversial scores of the season. Here to weigh in on all the action is our favourite Strictly professional couple, Ola and James Jordan.

WATCH: AJ Odudu and Kai Widdrington miss their final lift in Strictly quarter-final

For all the fab-u-lous dances ahead of the rapidly approaching final, scroll on for James and Ola's weekly column, Strictly Speaking

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Ola: It's drawing closer to the final now and everyone is putting so much pressure on themselves – I think that's why we saw so many mistakes last night. The celebrities would have no doubt perfected their routine in rehearsals, but it's so easy to fall apart during the live show because of the nerves!

James: At this stage, everyone is a contender for the final, which is why the pressure in the ballroom is so intense.


Strictly fans saw a different side to CBBC star Rhys Stephenson

Honestly, I never thought Rhys would make it all the way to the end, but after last night's performance, it's clear to see he's shaking things up. The last couple of weeks he's been really, really good too.

Ola: I liked Rhys and Nancy's dance! It was up there with their perfect Charleston. Not quite as good, but definitely one of his strongest performances.

James: It was refreshing to see that sultry, serious side of him which is so necessary for the Argentine Tango. We saw an emotionally mature side to Rhys last night and I'm glad the judges picked up on that.

Ola: We have said from week one that our favourites for the final would be Rose, AJ and John – and it looks like we could be right.

James: But Rhys could sneak in there if one of the other celebrities has a bad week! For me, the only dancer who is guaranteed be in the final is Rose. If I'm honest, I think she's got the Glitterball trophy already – and she deserves it.


Rose Ayling-Ellis has been dubbed the favourite to win since Week One

Ola: The scoring was very interesting last night. We had both Rhys and Rose at the top of the leaderboard with just one point off a perfect score, while AJ was right at the bottom.

James: I do agree with Craig's decision to give both Rhys and Rose a 9 instead of a 10. I loved both dances. I thought choreographically, the costumes, the music and the performances were exquisite, but both dances had something missing.

READ: Strictly's Rhys Stephenson causes stir as makes rare mention of girlfriend: 'I hope you're jealous!'

Ola: I agree. I think with Rhys, he still has that tendency to rush a little bit and get ahead with the music – which is exactly what Craig picked up on.

James: Rose's performance wasn't our favourite she's done. We've watched her dance before and thought 'that was flawless' and 'that deserves four 10s'. Last night, I didn't feel that – it wasn't one of her epic performances. It rightly deserved its place at the top of the leaderboard though.

Ola: I loved Rose and Giovanni's dance. There were a couple of choreographic moments in there that I didn't think were necessary, but it certainly pushed the boundaries.

James: I was never of those professionals that pushed the boundaries on Strictly, but I do think it's incredible when it's done correctly.

I always preferred to keep it clean and safe with my celebrities. I didn't think that “leap of faith” lift was needed in such a stunning American Smooth – though I can see why it impressed the judges.

Ola: Speaking of the leaderboard – John and Johannes messed up their lift at the end, hence they were marked down for that. Yet AJ and Kai also messed up their lift at the end, but they were marked even lower, and ended up beneath Dan on the leaderboard – I cannot understand that.


John and Johannes were third on Saturday night's leaderboard

James: Why did John and Johannes get more points than Dan, yet AJ and Kai didn't? I thought that was ridiculous. I know they made a mistake, however, Dan should still have been bottom of the leaderboard.

Ola: It was definitely frustrating to see.

James: The leaderboard is so important. It's only in the final that the public vote declares who wins, but in other weeks the judges' scores reflect 50 per cent of the couples' overall score, while the public vote makes up the other 50 per cent. Meaning someone at the top of the leaderboard with the least public votes is still unlikely to end up in the dance-off.

Because of that, I worry that we could even see AJ and Kai in the bottom two tonight – even though they didn't deserve to be at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Ola: I would have expected AJ to have got four 9s, their dance was perfection until the unfortunate ending.

James: It was one of those almost comical moments that you want to see again and again and again. But as Craig said, I love it when things go wrong! I don't want to always see a perfect performance.

Ola: I do feel sorry for them because I don't think they deserved that score. I would have definitely put them higher than John and Johannes last night.


AJ and Kai's Salsa landed them with the lowest score from the judges

James: You can't deny that they have a great connection on stage. The connection between the celebrity and the professional is so important, not only because the public love to see the bond between the dancers grow stronger week on week, but also because you have to be able to trust your partner in order to correctly perform lifts and sell a performance.

Ola: The public definitely wants to see that you're getting on and that you have a great connection when you're dancing together.

I do think that a strong rapport can be the difference between a 9 and a 10 sometimes – especially with certain styles that require an electric connection between the dancers.

James: John and Johannes was a tricky one to judge, I didn't feel it suited them as a team or a couple. There were no intricate arm movements which a Salsa really needs.

Ola: Perhaps it's harder for two men to achieve that than it is for a man to lead a woman in those moves? The Salsa requires lots of turning and intricate turns over the arm with armography – but there wasn't a lot of it, and when there was it was very simple.

One of the lifts they did I thought was absolutely epic. That takes massive strength and a lot of trust between the two to pull that off.

James: There were parts of the routines that were incredible, and John is a stunning dancer – but last night's dance wasn't one of my favourite dances.

Saying that, I would actually say John is one of my favourite male celebrity dancers I have ever seen on Strictly, he's got a real natural feel.


Craig Revel-Horwood wasn't impressed enough to give any perfect scores on Saturday

James: The show finished with the fiery Salsa from AJ and Kai.

I think sometimes where she's got the height to her, it can be tricky to control her limbs and make them look slick and clean when the choreography is faster – but I still think they did an amazing job with a very difficult dance.

Some of the lifts they did were totally jaw-dropping – it was a shame about the last one.

Ola: I think she may have just gone blank, which is something we've all experienced, even as professionals. I've been dancing before where I've thought: 'I have no clue where I am'. Especially when the pressure kicks in – it can be so nerve-wracking. But she owned it and was definitely marked far too low.

EXCLUSIVE: John Whaite reveals big future plans with Johannes after Strictly

MORE: Rose Ayling-Ellis couldn't take part in Strictly without her hearing aid

What's most impressive is AJ and Kai definitely have a lot of trust in each other to be able to tackle those lifts. I remember some partnerships in my Strictly days where I really felt unsafe being lifted by some of my partners, so you have take a step back and make the routine more simple.

James: Equally, there have been some partners I've been paired with who are so easy to do intricate lifts with, whereas others are like lifting a bag of potatoes!

Incorporating lifts into the choreography is no easier for the male partner than it is the female partner, nor is it harder – it depends on so many factors. Everything from how that person holds themself, to how strong the person lifting is, to the trust you have in each other is important.


BBC's Dan Walker performed a Tango in the quarter-final

Ola: On a final note, I actually think out of everyone in the competition, Dan has done the best.

James: I totally agree. I know that loads of people will disagree with me, but whatever anyone says he is the only non-dancer in the competition – yet he's creating routines that are really watchable and really enjoyable.

Ola: Back when James and I were on Strictly, Dan would have definitely been in the final and he would have even been a contender for winning. You can just see how much he's loved the competition and the amount he's improved since the first week is incredible.

James: Dan's journey is exactly what Strictly is about. He might be the weakest dancer, but I am rooting for him! It would be a real shame to lose him, I would have liked to see him get to the final, but then does he deserve a place against the other dancers in the competition? It does seem unlikely.

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