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Ballroom With A (Slightly Annoying) Twist

There were two conflicting realities at Washington Pavilion Tuesday night, as some of the top names from competition television came to Sioux Falls for ‘Ballroom With A Twist’.

Reality #1: The level of talent from the representatives of ‘Dancing With The Stars’, ‘American Idol’, and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ was top notch.

Reality #2: The four main stars of the show were the quartet who spent the least amount of time in the spotlight.

From the moment ‘Dancing With The Stars’ pros Derek Hough, Cheryl Burke, Tristan MacManus, and Emma Slater walked on the stage near the beginning of the show, it was obvious from the reaction of the crowd that the presence of those four was the main reason the majority of the paying customers showed up.

Every second one or more of that foursome was on stage, the energy in the building reached a fever pitch.  Their time in the spotlight was well spent, whether it was showing off the impressive dance moves fans of DTWS have come to know and love, pulling members of the audience on stage for impromptu ‘mini dances’, enthusiastically answering the same questions they get at probably every performance (‘Who is your favorite judge?’, ‘Who was your favorite partner?’, etc.), or giving the entire crowd an on-the-spot dance lesson.

Hough is the consumate showman – the perfect balance of raw talent and charisma that immediately creates a bond with the audience.

Burke is a polished professional – dancing with the same fierce attitude she displays as a mentor on the show.

MacManus is a crowd pleaser – with an easy going, exceedingly smooth presence on stage, whether he’s dancing or working the audience.

Slater is an up and coming star – just one season as a fiull fledged cast membet on DWTS, but already a fan favorite with her beauty, charm, and playfulness.

The problem was the time the four spent in front of the audience was woefully inadequate.

During the approximately 45-minute first act, Hough, Burke, MacManus, and Slater each performed a grand total of one dance.  The rest of the time was taken up by the 10 member dance troupe, a trio of finalists from ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, or a pair of ‘American Idol’ finalists.

Which brings us back to reality #1.

The level of talent from each and every performer was impressive to say the least.  The troupe showed off a wide range of dance styles, choreographed by Louis Van Amstel of DWTS.  Each member of the troupe brought a different skill set to the stage, while also blending nicely as an ensemble.

Some of the most impressive moves of the night came from the ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ contingent of Legacy, Jonathan Platero, and Randi Lynn Strong, who mixed together elements of contemporary and break dancing that wowed the audience. The performances were athletic, powerful, and breathtaking.

The vocalists on the bill, ‘American Idol’ finalists Gina Glocksen and Von Smith were terrific on their solo efforts, tackling everything from Marc Cohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis’ to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.  Their duets were nice, but not particularly memorable.

Listening to their vocal stylings was a reminder of just how good the level of talent is on Idol, especially considering Glocksen barely cracked the Top Ten in Season Six, and Smith didn’t advance of out of the Top 17 in Season Eight.

After intermission, we were treated to a little more stage time from Slater than we saw in act one, but again for Hough, Burke, and MacManus it was almost as if their main purpose was to give the troupe a breather rather than the other way around.

My takeaway from the evening: very entertaining singing and dancing – just not enough stars.

That wasn’t the ‘twist’ I was expecting.

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