Reposting here from the original link: tinyurl.com/nqjzscc
Friends are amazed at my transformation from geopolitical/economic news junkie to ballroom dance aficionado. It’s such a departure from the norm, that hopping in the car, driving from DC to Long Island to see both performances of SWAY this past Saturday evening with my daughter, was quite a commitment. We were not disappointed and would happily see it again. In short, SWAY was about emotion, relationships and life: desire, joy, and passion all conveyed through movement, music, and visual impact. The amount of love and energy put into this production, with a cast of Dance With Me professionals, was apparent from the opening scene and never let up through all three Acts.
The premise of the performance was interesting and creative. Three acts, three different views into dance: the Golden Age of Ballroom, Urban Influences via the creative melting pot of Brooklyn, and the passionate, emotional Latin influences which speak a whole language of movement and music of their own. These vignettes spoke to the audience through movement, music, impeccable costuming, and high quality production values of lighting, audio/visual themes, and special effects. To me, it really underscored the reality that dance isn’t static in terms of feeling, even if the forms are recognizable regardless of the era and environment. Thus, the viewer was able to see a Jive through the lens of the Golden Age and Urban settings… still the Jive, but oh, what a different ‘flavor’!
The first act was what one typically thinks of when the term ‘ballroom dance’ is mentioned. The setting took the audience back to the zenith of ballroom dance and the Golden Age film era which underscored the popular movement at a time when every town had a dance hall and for ten cents, young people could spend an evening dancing the night away. Tony Dovolani and Elena Grinenko, World Champion partners in American Rhythm, were the headliners of this Act, one of their dances was the one which secured them a World Championship title. The cast did a remarkable job portraying this period in all of its grandeur; from appropriately theatrical expressions on the dancers faces to the sparkly splendor of Swarovski crystals winking at the audience from Elena’s inspired costume.
Val and Zendaya headlined the high energy second Act which brought viewers to a more visceral, real and raw form of dance. The setting was, appropriately, the first home in the US for the Chmerkovskiy brothers: Brooklyn. Long a melting pot and incubator of creativity, the production brought the viewer to the streets of this borough. While some of the dances were in the same style as in the first Act, the ‘feel’ was distinctly different. This was a real eye-opener… What is a ‘Jive’? It depends. The components are the same, but the execution, the arrangement and feel is completely different. Zendaya is a delight to watch dance. Her energy and clear and obvious joy at performing brings a smile to the face and a feeling of happiness to the audience. As for Val, what can one say other than his dancing is sublime?
The second Act, along with the others, didn’t shy away from injecting good-natured humor into the program. Those old enough to recall the early days of MTV, music videos, and introduction of hip-hop/break-dancing to a wider, more suburban audience started grinning from the start of the ‘show down’ dance off between the urban hip hop and tube-sock and shooooort athletic short wearing ‘exercise video’ types. The costuming was fantastic throughout this Act, featuring items from the Valentin line along with modern twists on classic design, such as a Chanel inspired quilted vest.
The last Act, headlined by Maks and Peta Murgatroyd, was all about PASSION. Well deserving of the highest accolades, their dancing was sizzling hot and their Paso Doble, in particular, was a stand out for dramatic intensity. This Act was the most traditionally Latin in feel, emphasized by musical selection as well as the more festive, colorful costuming. Elements from Cha Cha, Samba, Tango and Salsa were in force during the group dances and it’s encouraging in so many parts of the world, Latin dancing is a highly enjoyable part of everyday life.
Peta is an incredibly lovely dancer and a joy to watch perform. As for Maks, Val once said that Maks can lift an eyebrow and an audience will go wild, while he, Val, has to do all sorts of flips and tricks to gain the same response. While Val was quite modest, there is something about Maks’ presence on a dance floor or stage which simply draws the eye and is compelling to watch.
The only downside to the entire day, was that it ended. Clearly, anything the Chmerkovskiy brothers place their stamp of approval upon, is worthy and of high quality. SWAY was not only brilliantly conceived, choreographed, produced and performed: it offered insights into life and love, through dancing. Kudos to everyone involved with this magnificent production!
Want to read or see more?
Past SWAY reviews of the 2014 performances: 12/18 with Meryl Davis, 12/19 performance without Meryl Davis, and the first run of SWAY on 7/26. Info on ticketing and VIP benefits for the June 2015 SWAY production run. There are additional posts listed elsewhere on this page.
For more details on SWAY, including a series of delightful ‘Making of SWAY’ videos, go to: SWAYshow.com
Follow SWAY: A Dance Trilogy:
To learn more about Dance With Me dance studios and how to learn to dance, go to: Dance With Me USA
There’s something about moving, something about interpreting yourself to the music, that’s attractive, that’s interesting, that’s intriguing, and everyone wishes they could do that. ~ Maksim Chmerkovskiy