Strictly: AJ Odudu discusses 'brilliant' training
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Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Kevin Clifton, 39, has attempted to clear up speculation surrounding AJ Odudu, 33, and Kai Widdrington’s dance-off against Dan Walker, 44, and Nadiya Bychkova, 32. Although the duo triumphed in the dance-off against the BBC Breakfast presenter last weekend, their victory didn’t come without its fair share of controversy from Strictly viewers.
Some angry fans claimed AJ and Kai “cheated” while competing for a place in the semi-final, as their dramatic lift, which went wrong in Saturday night’s live show, seemed to have been changed for the dance-off.
Dance expert Kevin addressed the backlash on his self-titled podcast, The Kevin Clifton Show, this week.
The musical theatre star recalled a rule he believed was part of the show when he was a Strictly pro, that stipulates contestants are not allowed to alter routines for the dance-off.
His co-host and sister Joanne Clifton brought up the incident, admitting: “I haven’t seen the dance-off, but it’s been talked about a lot on social media, did they change the lift or not, and is that against the rules to change it?”
Kevin, who quit his role as a Strictly pro in 2020 after seven years on the BBC show, said: “There was a ruling on this, wasn’t there? I can’t remember.”
Joanne, who was also a professional dancer on Strictly from 2014 to 2016, admitted: “I can’t remember either!
“That’s what I was going to ask you because, to me, it looked like what the lift was supposed to be was the one where the leg goes over the head, she swings down, and then he puts her down.
“And then the second video of the clip that I saw, she went into a split and went down again.
“But I don’t know, I might be wrong.
“I don’t know whether you’re allowed to change the routine or not,” Joanne explained.
Kevin replied: “I’m trying to think, but I don’t want to say the wrong thing.
“There’s something in me saying that there was a rule that we’re not allowed to change anything about the routine for the dance-off.
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“But I could be wrong, there’s something in me for some reason that rings a bell.
“But I don’t know, and rules change all the time, so maybe it’s different now.”
It comes after AJ and Kai addressed the allegations during an appearance on Strictly spin-off show It Takes Two.
The duo explained to host Rylan Clark that they successfully carried out the move the second time around, rather than changing it, after a spectacular mishap on Saturday’s show made the lift look different to what was intended.
Rylan asked the pair about “the elephant in the room”, quizzing Kai: “Why were AJ’s legs wrapped round your neck, babes?, What’s going on?”
Kai replied: “There’s a moment when you’re supposed to prep, you’re supposed to go out, then roll in.
“And there was no out, so I realised if I tried to put her down she would hit her head so I’m just going to wait for her to climb off my shoulder and then usher her back to her end position.”
Pressing the duo on the controversy, Rylan asked: “But, red light treatment, and you got to do it all again, and you did it and you executed the lift.”
AJ said: “It was stressful, I was nervous going into that final lift, so to be able to execute it and show everyone ‘this is what it was meant to look like’, I was really pleased, I was.”
Rylan added: “I’m pleased for you as well and I’m not going to mention it again.”
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