Strictly's Sara & Alja top leader board but John & Johannes ‘compelling' in ‘best dance'

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© BBC Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing has returned to British television screens for the iconic show’s 19th series. More than one couple is already the favourite to win, but what were the dancers’ body language like on the dancefloor last night?

Sara Davies scored her highest marks of the series so far last night with 36 points for her Tango with pro partner Alja Skorjanec.

The judges were impressed with the pair’s routine, with Craig Revel Horwood calling it “spectacular”.

However, there were other couples which dazzled, too.

For body language expert Judi James, John and Johannes carried out the “best dance of the night”, despite their body language not being as confident as in previous weeks, and their scores not being as high.

Judi said: “Their routine was beautiful yet again but they seem to have hit a small barrier in terms of where to go next.

“Walking across the moors for no particular reason, we saw John and Johannes suddenly lose the easy-going tactile nature of their relationship to sit on a wall with a large space between them and with their arms firmly folded in a mirrored barrier gesture.

“John seemed to be the more assertive one in front of the camera, doing all the talking to Claudia as though he was the professional, while Johannes looked rather quiet and upset by the judge’s comments.”

The body language expert added: “This is clearly an emotional experience for Johannes, who screamed in sheer delight as John lifted him so beautifully during rehearsals.

“They are such a compelling watch and still produced the best dance of the night for me, with a great narrative, but Craig said they were ‘gappy’ during their close-up dancing and they might need to make a few major decisions about that physicality before next week’s show.”

© BBC John and Johannes

Another less confident pair was Dan and Nadiya due to the couple’s lack of sexual chemistry.

Judi said: “Although Dan dedicated his dance to everyone who has ever suffered from shyness it was clear his inhibitions still need some major culling as his body language signals still lacked all traces of the kind of chemistry and underlying sexuality needed to make his routine easy watching.

“During the rehearsals he looked as though he was interviewing Nadiya politely on the Breakfast Show, suggesting he was trying to physically recreate a scenario that is within his comfort zone.

“We saw him walking along with Nadiya with one hand stuck awkwardly in his pocket and when he took to the stage to talk to the school children he had his hands clasped high up around his chest area in a nervous, self-protective barrier gesture.”

Judi continued: “His comedy acting during his dance routine was poor and he insisted on miming the lyrics to the song throughout the dance, which is a sure sign of nerves.

“MC Hammer might not have been an ideal choice for the very upright and rather rigid-looking Dan, although his Pac Man sideways step across the floor was a technical show-stopper.

“He seems to avoid Nadiya’s eye contact quite a lot and their lack of chemistry does seem to be holding them back.

© BBC Amy and Tom

“Being the perfect gentleman is laudable and it saw Bill through to the winner’s spot last year, but Dan does seem to be taking things a little too far and maybe needs to take a deep breath and relax and unwind and just see where the dances and Nadiya’s coaching take him, rather than resisting as he appears to be at the moment.”

Amy and Tom’s routine, however, worked well thanks to their body language, Judi noted.

She said: “This was another couple that appeared to have lost their mojo this week, although thankfully they found it again out there on the dancefloor during a beautiful Foxtrot.

“Amy is the perfect kind, supportive, and encouraging professional who always uses several parental-looking body language gestures like patting and smiling to instill confidence in her partners.

“This week her smile had been replaced by a more worried-looking facial expression as she briefed an equally nervous-looking Tom.

“Instead of patting or stroking him she placed both hands out, fingers splayed and palms facing him in a ‘stop’ gesture as she bared her teeth.

“In reply his bottom lip kept pulling upward and the side of his mouth seemed to twitch in a gesture of uncertainty and anxiety.”

However, Judi added “the routine worked”, saying: “Tom’s solo steps looked like a burst of joyous energy.

“Both showed signs of relief and Amy patted Tom’s back although her rather pursed smile suggested she’s still got some anxiety about their scores and might think the very talented Tom’s not reached full potential yet.”

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