The Eurovision Dance Contest 2007



So here it is. From the BBC Television Centre in London, on the evening of the first of September 2007, is the very first Eurovision Dance Contest. Or, in other words, "Eurovision Does 'Strictly Come Dancing'".
Indeed, it was one of ITV teletext's picks of the day:

The official website, should you be interested, is:

As we enter with faceless dancers in a swirly sparkly sort of introduction sequence, the hosts arrive - Graham Norton and his regular "ehh" interjections, and Claudia Winkleman. An interesting choice. Europe is likely to think that the Brits are charismatic nutters.
Then there is the commentator's voice over, sounding like a bored Vinnie Jones. Actually the two voice-over commentators are Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.

As with the recent Junior Song Contest, the telephone voting opens at the start of the contest proper, and will close shortly after the recap after the final performance.

After some terrible jokes by Graham, and a patronising reminder that you cannot vote for your own country... we are ready to begin.

There are sixteen countries taking part. In performance order: Switzerland, Russia, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Greece (special kudos to them for participating at this time), Lithuania, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Portugal, The Ukraine, Sweden, and Finland.
The Balkans are strangely absent, as is France and Norway.

Everybody will dance twice, with each dance lasting about a minute and a half. The first dance will be Latin or Ballroom; the second will be a free-style which should ideally contain some sort of reference to the home country (national dance, national costume, a composer from that country, that sort of thing).
Some of the countries have sent two professional dancers, while others have sent a celebrity from their country.
I hope this means like an actress or something, and not the twisted modern definition where a person is (in)famous simply for being (in)famous, like oh-so-many so-called "celebrities". Like those ones 'in the house' or 'in the jungle' or 'up **** creek without a paddle'. How many had you heard of before the programme? Assuming you actually managed to pretend to care, that is...
Anyway, there'll be some "celebrities".

Before we start, I wish to say that not only am I not a dancer, I am not very au fait with dance terms. I will use phrases like "twist" and "spin" because that's what it looks like to be. I'm sure those are official sanctioned 'moves' too, but those moves may not be what I'm referring to. Furthermore, my knowledge of dance styles is sadly lacking. Where I talk about paso doble or cha cha cha, this is from something in the dancer's introduction or the voice over.
In any case, it would be quite easy to fool me by dancing a Rumba to a Samba beat. I probably couldn't tell the difference.

Dancing, to me, is what I do with the cat to Sarah Maclachlan songs when nobody is looking...
What I can tell is the execution. Does it 'flow'? Does it come together as a cohesive performance, or is it 'bitty'? Does the speed of dance, and the performance of it match the music? Do they look good together? Is it believable?
That last lot are my criteria for judging. If you are a professional dancer and you wish to send me annotations about the technical abilities of the performers, I'll be happy to include them.

So with Latin and Ballroom, we start with the Swiss entry...


As a reminder, the pictures were not taken to show any specific 'part' of the dance, they are simply live screengrabs taken as the performance is broadcast, and likewise, as always, this document is written (in rough form) alongside the live broadcast.


Part 1: Latin/Ballroom

1 Switzerland Denise Biellmann & Sven Ninnemann

She had difficulty with her posture (perhaps being more used to the ice, as she was a skater - and the first female to achieve the now de-facto triple lutz [cue: say "wow" now]), and a dress that was more open than not, this was an interesting beginning. But not one that seemed particularly graceful.


2 Russia Maria Sittel & Vladislav Borodinov

A flowing white dress and possibly the most minimalist music ever - this got rave reviews from the commentators - and justly so. The Russian newsreader put everything into her performance, and pulled it off making it look effortless.


3 Netherlands Alexandra Matteman & Redmond Valk

The Netherlands sends in professionals, backed with Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb". The egotistical pair (in the intro he says "Europe should vote for us because we're the best") put a lot into this up-tempo performance, but we must remember that this couple are professionals. They should have blown us away, but they simply didn't compare to the Russian entry.


Time to introduce the home country! Claudia has a good line in cute moves and postures.

It is perhaps as well she isn't wearing a revealing dress as that bloke has his eye on..... ☺

4 United Kingdom Camilla Dallerup & Brendan Cole

Kiwi (him) and Dane (her), pros that had been together for eight years and then split up four years ago and are reuniting for one last dance - yuck, it sounds like a cheesy movie synopsis, doesn't it? They put in a graceful and flowing performance for the UK, to a song with 'meaning'. They might stand a chance of a reasonable result with a Rumba like this.


5 Austria Kelly Krainz & Andy Krainz

A girl from Liverpool representing Austria. Go figure!
These professionals provide a fun and lively forties style dance to "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B", with a dress that'd have been illegal back then. Ought to send a tape of this to Christina Aguillera and tell her this is how it's done...


6 Germany Wolke Hegenbarth & Oliver Seefeldt

This is a noisy routine to the strains of that annoying Moulin Rouge song (something to do with marmalaaade?), and a dance that looked scattered - I'm not sure that was the best choice of music to try to dance to. Anyway, we finish up with the girl (who is a comedy actress) wearing very little - in the picture she looks like she'd be sunbathing!


7 Greece Rania Koliou & Spyros Pavlides

These are professional Greek dancers, and check out her hair colour! They give us a synchronised and amusing comedy routine to the "Everybody Needs Somebody" song (for some reason that reminds me of Dan Aykroyd?!?). A laugh-out-loud routine with a cute ending. If this is what they can do in the Latin/Ballroom category, what will they do for the freestyle?


8 Lithiania Gabrielė Valiukaitė & Gintaras Svistunaviċius

Serious outfits, dramatic music, these professionals do everything except hunt the bull. But, you know, I didn't like it much. It was so overly serious. You heard the one about "blood on the dance floor"? It was these guys, it was their blood.
The announcers said "oh to die for". I thought it was more like "oh to die over"?


9 Spain Amagoya Beniloch & Abraham Martínez

Oh the unluckiness to have a professional Spanish couple follow Lithuania with their attempt at the Paso Doble. Now, see? This is much more upbeat and fun. You enjoy watching it, and you get the feeling that they enjoy performing. She's even singing along, while he is making goofy expressions.


10 Ireland Nicola Byrne & Mick Donegan

Professional dancers Mick and Nicola, who are ex-Riverdancers (there's a surprise! picture right), dance a cute skit to "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?". They seemed a bit stiff, as if concentrating too hard on getting it all together, but with only five weeks to break a long Riverdance habit, it is maybe no surprise that they seemed stiff? If you recall, the Riverdance is all in the legs and the top half doesn't do much except jiggle.


11 Poland Katarzyna Cichopek & Marcin Hakiel

A quirky and sexually-charged Cha-Cha-Cha from Poland. It was a good attempt by non-professionals (she is a well-known soap actress in her home country), but I think it lacked fluidity, arms and legs just flung around.


12 Denmark Mette Elkjeer & David Jergensen

A simple song for this professional pair to show off their Rumba moves. Fluid, competent, but not quite sexy enough... it is just a shame that the bizarre fluffy dress made her look like Big Bird!


Come on Claudia, keep it together. You should know what Graham is like!


13 Portugal Sónia Araújo & Ricardo Silva

You know what this reminds me of? Latvia's winning song from 2002 (I think, don't have the 2002 tape handy). A fun and lively performance with a song that sounds like it may have had a few dodgy lyrics if you listened carefully.


14 Ukraine Julia Okropiridze & Ilyia Sydorenko

Amateur champions come out and whizz around for the quick-step. A fun ballroom dance came along and kicked the many Latin pretenders. A slightly annoying song (something about Constantinople) more than made up by the performance.


15 Sweden Cecilia Ehrling & Martin Lidberg

A small female and a former wrestling champion. Hahaha!!! They come out and Paso Doble to Foreigner's "The Final Countdown". He is a large bloke and he seemed to lumber a bit. In any case, a million points for the music. What a sense of humour, to do a Latin dance to that!


16 Finland Katja Koukkula & Jussi Väänänen

A much softer calmer affair from the Finnish professionals, like the sort of smoochy thing you'd end a Prom with. Nice dress, not too revealing. Gentle, graceful, a perfect ending for the first round.


So that's it. The first round is now complete.

My top three so far?

  1. Russia
  2. Finland
  3. Ukraine / Greece (joint third)


Part 2: Free style

After a brief visit to The Green Room, it is time for the free style dance. What's the betting we'll get some sort of Riverdance from Ireland?

1 Switzerland Denise Biellmann & Sven Ninnemann

Starting like office workers, then off comes her costume. Whatever. Maybe this is supposed to be an erotic routine? It didn't work for me...


2 Russia Maria Sittel & Vladislav Borodinov

Beginning like something out of Spirited Away, this bizarre performance starts, and the tempo just goes up and up and up (reminiscent of that Jewish song Hava Na Gila). A traditional Kossack (sp?) dance, perfectly executed. Perhaps she is in the wrong profession?


3 Netherlands Alexandra Matteman & Redmond Valk

Soft and romantic, to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow". You just wanna say "awwwww!".


4 United Kingdom Camilla Dallerup & Brendan Cole

A freestyle routine to what sounds like a jazzed up version of a bunch on Bond themes, along with removing more and more of that dress along the way, until she was in little more than bra and panties. I guess that's the British connection - perfectly dressed for some traditional British binge drinking... Sadly I think this has undone a lot of the good of their first performance.


It is about here that I must take issue with the 'expert commentators'. I guess their job is to provide some reporting on the skills of the performers as proper organised dance is, like ice skating, something with a lot more complications than simply moving around a dance floor.
But these two? Whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge... They liked a few and slated the rest.

Come on BBC, I might not know my Paso Doble from my Rumba, but can't we perhaps be credited with enough intelligence to make up our own mind as to whether or not a performance 'worked'? They say the Greeks are not so technically skilled but they make up for that with their performance. While I am not so fickle as to say Rania and Spyros are the greatest dancers ever ever ever, I thought their first performance was lively and fun and look forward to their second. I didn't need to be told to think that. It was self-evident.

Actually, given the number of "you cannot vote for your own country" reminders, I don't think they credited us viewers with any intelligence whatsoever. :-(


5 Austria Kelly Krainz & Andy Krainz

A pirate-inspired routine for Austria, and however these two dance (it was 'okay', nothing to rave about) it has to be better than watching Johnny Depp (who is cool) paired with Kiera-bl**dy-Knightley.


6 Germany Wolke Hegenbarth & Oliver Seefeldt

With a Bonnie Tyler medley, this routine was technically astonishing - lifts, twists, spins, and I'm suprised the girl didn't toss her cookies. Somewhere along the way she did toss some of her outfit.
I'm still struggling to see what a Welsh rocker has to do with Germany? Shouldn't it perhaps have been a Hasselhoff medley?
As the announcers said, "it was like watching a barbie doll in the spin cycle of a washing machine".


It is about here that I must take issue with the 'expert commentators'. Again.
Whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge, whinge...
You see, I was under the impression that it would be a 'bonus' for the free style to be in some way connected with the country (a traditional outfit, traditional dance, or at a stretch a few Bond themes). However, it is free style. That means if the Germans want to dance to Bonnie Tyler, then let them. It might have no connection whatsoever to Germany, but don't slag them off because if it!



7 Greece Rania Koliou & Spyros Pavlides

A traditional dance, with a bit of flying and having fun along the way, ending with an olive branch - beautiful symbolism. These two are great fun to watch. If they were Brits, ITV would probably give them a chat show to host...


8 Lithiania Gabrielė Valiukaitė & Gintaras Svistunaviċius

I guess she is probably wearing some sort of national outfit, even though she looks like a cross between a German mountain girl and a Catholic schoolgirl.
What's with the green face? Ho-ho-ho-green-giant?
Fun and flirty. I can't believe these are the same two that did the over-serious routine in the first round. What a difference!


9 Spain Amagoya Beniloch & Abraham Martínez

It must suck being Spanish in a dance competition, when, of course, you'll be expected to perform something such as the Paso Doble. For sure they do it nicely, it's just that in the first round, half the entrants did it better..., actually, doesn't this imply the Spanish did two Paso Dobles?


10 Ireland Nicola Byrne & Mick Donegan

Lots of close-up shots of shoes. Yup. A tap routine that didn't quite make it as far as the Riverdance, but it came close. And you could see these two were much better acquainted with this style of dance, making it look effortless.


11 Poland Katarzyna Cichopek & Marcin Hakiel

A lovely flowing performance that lost it in the second half with the tempo change. Never mind, we're supposed to believe that dances are organised mating rituals (like we're peacocks or something) and these two certainly look like they are more than ready to make out...


12 Denmark Mette Elkjeer & David Jergensen

It's the woman from Rosenstolz doing a mime routine? That's almost what it looked like until the awkward tempo change and the undressing. This just didn't work.


13 Portugal Sónia Araújo & Ricardo Silva

Wow! Making the dance floor look like an emotional battleground. And he dropped the girl (intentionally), the picture shows where she lays. A rather emotionally exhausting piece, this...


14 Ukraine Julia Okropiridze & Ilyia Sydorenko

A traditional dance. A good effort, a nice flying spin in the middle, but is it better than Russia? It'll be a strong contender...


15 Sweden Cecilia Ehrling & Martin Lidberg

Okay, so these two are two decades out of date? Some breakdancing, and the wrestler tossing the girl around... It was fun to watch but nothing special. What has she done with her hair? Yuck! Looks like a bloke in drag as a biker-groupie.


16 Finland Katja Koukkula & Jussi Väänänen

A dramatic synchronised routine for Finland. They ended the first round so happily, it's a whole different almost gothic mood now. In any case, it was beautiful and breathtaking.


Call it!

We now have a recap of both of the routines, so I'll call my top three:
  1. Russia / Finland (joint first)
  2. Greece
  3. Ukraine
Technically the Finnish entry was better, especially their final dance, and in reality I feel it is they who really deserve to win.
The thing is, the extra wow factor is not just that the Russian pair were pretty amazing, but that she is a newsreader and not a professional dancer. The commentators called her "a Natasha Kaplinsky".

But that's a cop-out. As much as I like the Russians, I think the Finns final performance could have scored a top five on that alone, so added to their first dance, it'll be Finland taking home the trophy.

The United Kingdom ought to average a two-thirds rank. Sorry guys, but the free style just didn't do it for me.

As for the bottom scorer, nobody was outstandingly bad, nobody "dropped the girl" (unintentionally), and nobody had a routine so totally mismatched to the music as to make it painful to watch. Therefore I would suggest, reading back over my notes, that the last place may be Switzerland as they seemed not-so-great on both dances. That's not to say they were bad, they were just perhaps not up to the same standard as everybody else.
The thing is, many of the countries put in a bad dance and a good dance - consider Ireland's stiff latin, but well into their comfort zone for the free style; or perhaps the UK's latin but poorer free style.
I think the reality will be what Europe is willing to forgive - enthusiasm will count, but Spain may suffer for the goofy almost-smug face-pulling. Oh, and let's not forget the ages-old problem that I'm sure some neighbouring countries will give good results to others, and there will be at least one country with votes so eccentric you'll swear they must be putting drugs in the water supply...

So there it is. After a load of waffle to justify my decision, I shall call it proper:

Finland to win, and most likely Switzerland to come last.



We now have a behind-the-scenes showing the preparation week to fill in time while the votes are collated across Europe.

As that isn't long enough, so we also have a musical performance. I don't think he needs any introduction...


Vote results

Now time for the votes. Where was Svante?!?

The votes are allocated in the usual manner, with points one to seven read first, then the "big points" eight, ten, and twelve.

We start with Austria's vote and it is eccentric, Denmark wasn't much better. Russia has done worse than I expected even at this early stage, with Finland justifiably is doing well. Ireland are the dark horses.

Germany has The Golden Girls giving weird votings, with maximum points to Poland. Everybody is like "Poland? Poland!?!".

The Greeks will be giving the votes of the standby jury who watched and judged the rehearsal that afternoon. This is justifiable, considering what is going on in Greece right now. At this stage, Switzerland has null pwah.

All around, the voting is just bizarre. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Russia and Finland, but it's anybody's call... unless they're Swiss.

Astonishing! The Lithuanian announcer (called Lavia, I think?) wound them up by pretending to mix up the results, then she messed up and missed '4'. Oh, poor girl, the embarrassment! Actually, I think she did say who was in fourth place, but it was not heard as she said it too quickly after her 'joke'. and didn't wait for it to be said back.
Graham put her firmly in her place and you could see she was a bit flustered afterwards. See, Lavia, it doesn't do to be a smart ass. Certainly not on a live programme where they can't do the magic of editing.

It is too early to call for Finland and Ukraine, given that after Poland's vote, they are neck and neck - 74 points. But only for a moment.

Still languishing with null pwah is Switzerland. After Spain's votes, Ukraine and Finland are neck and neck... again! But Sweden, as expected, push neighbouring Finland ahead, and with a mere 3 from Switzerland (who still have zero!), is it enough of a gap to put Finland into the leader forever?
They probably have won - the Ukraine cannot vote for itself, with 109 for Ukraine and 121 for Finland, that's a gap of 12. They can only tie.

YES! The Ukraine just gave Finland 12 points. We can call it for Finland.


The final scoreboard


The winners - Finland

Who will walk away with this trophy:

After a superb performance and a justified win, Finland reprise their final dance one last time.

Oooh! Spooky eyes! ☺

Receiving the trophy.

As the expression goes - once more with feeling

And showing why they won.



And that is it. Scheduled for 135 minutes, it actually ran for 138, so it wasn't bad for a live performance.


The final analysis

Whoo-hoo! I actually had a lot of trepidation about writing this review as I know diddly-squat about dancing, but I managed to call first and last place. That's got to count for something!

I'm sure the voting will raise a few eyebrows... It's the same old story, isn't it?

I'm pleased Finland won (only four votes given by the UK, did those annoying commentators have any influence over that?). It was a deserving performance, in my opinion.

I'm surprised Poland did so well. Conversely, I am very disappointed that the Russian entry did not score better.

I see the UK, in good form from recent Eurovisions, languishing around second-to-last. I'm sure there will be numerous people calling for the Eurovision to be scrapped and how dare the voting rob the UK blind. I think the voting robbed Russia, but the UK wasn't up to the mark. Sorry, but that's how it is.

The real losers of the night must surely be the Swiss. For each country giving ten votes to one of fifteen countries... to walk away with absolutely nothing... that is either a startling achievement or a terrible injustice.

However, when all is said and done: Finland, the deserving winner, won and we all pity Switzerland.


That's all!
Same time next year? [preferably with an interactive stream that has a no-commentary option?]


Other people's comments

Shortly after the broadcast, ITV teletext put the following on their entertainment news page (p142, 2007/09/01):
Finland wins Euro dance

Finnish pair Jussi Vaananen and
Katja Koukkula have won the first
ever Eurovision Dance Contest in
Just like the song competition, the
voting caused controversy, with
BBC commentators Bruno Tonioli
and Len Goodman aghast at
British duo Brendan Cole and
Camilla Dallerup's lowly 15th
place among the 16 competing
The Ukraine finished second, with
Ireland third. The show was hosted
by Claudia Winkleman and Graham
Sadly for Graham, his surname was clipped!


Here are a selection of Eurovision Dance related texts sent to the viewer's letters page on ITV teletext (p143, 2007/09/02 at 12pm and 6pm UK time):

Eurovision Dance Contest was
completely wrecked by the
whinging commentary from a
couple of dull egotists. Kim,
St. Albans.
Couldn't agree more.
I wish the BBC would find innovative uses for the audio and video streams at their disposal. Such as, perhaps, a "no commentary" option? I know that there were at least two interactive streams free that evening (Stream-5 and Stream-6; 12441 V 27500), they could have put a live-audio-only version there? Come on BBC! Make use of the technology!

Can't believe how GB is left out of
votes even in Eurovision Dance
Contest. If they don't like GB, why
do so many of them live in in it?
Ann, Belfast.
A fairly typical reactionary sort of message - basically if the wonderful UK act didn't pull the votes, why does Johnny Foreigner want to live in the UK... Excuse me, but what the heck kind of logic is that? And, Ann, are you aware of the ever-increasing emigration rate (myself included!)?
BTW, the "in in" is as it was on-screen.

Eurovision Dance Contest? Barbie
and Ken go robotic, more like!
Repetitive dross. Gerard, Bohcom.
I'll admit, seen one Spanish-influenced dance, you've probably seen them all. Given three other BBC channels, four ITV channels, and five free movie channels, not to mention DVDs, videos, PPV (if you have them), and as a UK citizen possibly a further eight DTT channels... I do question the sanity of somebody who will choose to watch something that they consider "repetitive dross". Change the channel already!

What will be done about the
voting on the Eurovision
competitions? Last night's dance
vote was ridiculous. Jane,
What will done to ensure the UK sends in something worth voting for?

After the Eurovision Dance Contest
how long before Eurovision
versions of Dancing On Ice, X
Factor, Millionaire and the IQ test.
Glenn, Blackpool.
Eurovision Dancing On Ice. There's an idea... I'd like to see that.
Mind you, we can't have a European IQ test. It might show up the UK something chronic!

Uncanny resemblance No2?
Graham Norton and a bulldog
chewing a wasp. Belle, Cardiff.

Eurovision Dance Contest - a
complete flop! Bruno Tonioli and
Len Goodman cannot expect every
country to come up with a
freestyle dance relative to that
country. Mave, Wakefield.
I don't see why it was "a complete flop" because the commentators were gormless?

Euro dance. Beeb wasted our
money on Len and Bruno. They
were dire! Joy, Richmond.
Are we starting to see a trend here? Voting bad, commentary worse?

Eurovision Dance. Wonderful.
However, how shameful that so
many competitors spoke perfect
English. Mand, Newcastle.
Why is this shameful, exactly? It is nice that these people make the effort to speak our language since so few of us are encouraged to learn another language.
For the record, I believe the Spanish and Russian couples were the only ones speaking in their own language, and the Greek girl's English was a little eccentric but understandable. Every else spoke, more or less, perfect English as this correspondant reports.

Dance X, Strictly, Euro Dance
Contest and Dancing With The
Stars. Has the Beeb gone mad?
And don't get me started on all
the medical dramas. A total lack
of imagination. Jax, Durham.
I am amused when I see letters on teletext calling for repeats because the current programming is so much rubbish... and when a repeat is shown there are letters saying "oh look, another repeat, no imagination".
I think there are too many drawn-out dance contests and too many drawn-out singing contests where a person gets voted off every show. It used to be a fun thing to watch, but it's now all the same. And with the exception of Kelly Clarkson, where are all these pop stars anyway?
At least with the Eurovision Dance Contest, it is a "vote and pick a winner" and it is all broadcast, voted, winner announced and credits roll in less than three hours. And mercifully no cheesy "Denise & Sven" <really really long pause for dramatic effect, but so long your concentration wanders> "will not be going on to the next round". God I hate it when they do that - especially YOU Philip Schofield!


That's it then. End of the contest, end of this review document. Like Katja, time to lie down and pass time until the next contest.
Bye bye!

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Copyright © 2007 Rick Murray
Images copyright © 2007 EBU-UER
Broadcast in almost-widescreen by BBC One.