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SWAY: A Dance Trilogy Review

SWAY: A Dance Trilogy, is brilliant, seamlessly fusing the artistry and athleticism of dance movement within the diverse and uniquely American cultural and societal historical context, with secondary stories woven throughout the production. The audience was entranced by superb performances, quality production values, and dazzling, unspoken narrative choreographed by David Thomas Moore and Joao Tiago Fernandes. SWAY: A Dance Trilogy, rewards the audience from beginning to end, with ‘must see’ theater worthy of a residency or touring production.

Cultural Legacy Narrated Through Artistic Athleticism

America, the ‘great experiment’, has long interested cultural historians due to the highly diverse influences from various waves of migrants to its shores. Told through movement and music, Dance With Me USA’s brilliant theatrical production portrays the cultural evolution of American Social Dance due to the unique confluence of migration, music, and technological developments. A substantive and ambitious project, SWAY: A Dance Trilogy, is a visual and aural time capsule, depicting Social Dance’s European-American and African-American roots to the present ‘melting pot’ of influences in three movements of Golden Age, Urban Influences, and Latin Passion.

SWAY2TiagoBusiness partners and principal performers, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Val Chmerkovskiy, and Tony Dovolani are joined by two very special celebrity guests. Olympic Gold Ice Dance Medalist and DWTS Mirror Ball Trophy winner Meryl Davis and Actress/Singer Zendaya, reunite with their DWTS partners, Maksim and Valentin, respectively. Additional headliners include: Peta Murgatroyd, Sharna Burgess, Artem Chigvintsev, Henry Byalikov, Jenna Johnson, and Serge Onik. Notably, Maks, Peta, Sharna, Artem and Henry performed together in the critically acclaimed 2009-10 Broadway run of “Burn the Floor.” Maksim Chmerkovskiy was nominated for the 2010 Fred Astaire Award for Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show for BTF. Completing the cast are fantastic Dance With Me USA professionals, with laudable competitive dance credentials.

SWAYSharnaTonyLift

Scene One: Tony and Sharna Wow the Audience During the Golden Age of Film and Harlem Clubs

The first scene, evoking the Golden Age, conjures up memories of Fred and Ginger swirling across the screen in Hollywood classics such as “Top Hat,” during a politically and economically tumultuous era, when popular escapism included film, hot clubs in Harlem, and ten cent admission dance halls in every town, where young people danced away their worries. The glamor of the 1920’s-40’s, marvelously delivered by headliners Tony and Sharna, displayed powerful and graceful elegance coupled with musical selections perfect for showcasing elements of the Foxtrot, Waltz, and Quickstep. Quality dance was stunning, with many notable performances by all of the principal dancers including Henry Bialykov, Artem Chigvintsev and Serge Onik.  One theater-goer observed, “Sharna Burgess embodies intention of movement when she dances,” with every gesture fully expressed. More formalized and structured than later Acts, it is also the most theatrical with requisite ballroom expressions and spectacular costuming by Doré Designs. It’s beautiful, splendid, and transports the audience to a magical era, whilst telling a secondary story of love and betrayal as old as time.

Scene Two: Offers A Glimpse into Brooklyn from the 1980’s to Present Day with Stunning Performances

The distinctly Urban feel of the next scene illustrates the unique cultural melting pot and creative incubator of Brooklyn, the first home for the newly immigrated Chmerkovskiy family. Val sets the narrative, rapping about their journey and “family over everything.” Dancing with verve, headliners Val and Jenna Johnson aptly capture the spontaneous street vibe, enhanced with apparel by Valentín and impressive movements; sharp and sinuous. Especially noteworthy was a Paso Doble infused contemporary; an interesting juxtaposition which worked well. Living in Brooklyn, the brothers expanded formalized Latin and Ballroom knowledge with earthier, spontaneous club and street dancing, represented by an Afro-Caribbean influenced Jamaican Dance Hall Salsa number to “Watch Out for This” and a distinctly American Hip Hop piece to “Apache (Jump On It).” The latter traces the evolution and wider acceptance of the genre in American culture, adding some impeccably timed comedic notes in a dance-off between suburban Lyrca and lamé clad “Aerobicize” team, led by Henry Byalikov and urban chic hip hop krew led by Alex Samusevich. Both gentlemen were spectacular in this and many other scenes during the production and in particular, the Urban scenes.

Meryl and Maks’ Argentine Tango to “Montserrat” Had the Audience Mesmerized and Clamoring for More

As the 20th century progressed, social mores became less restrictive, permitting closer dance contact between partners. Presented a club scene, reminiscent of Miami in the 1950’s and highlighted boldly with Carnival inspired costuming, the Rumba, Samba, Cha Cha, and Argentine Tango commemorate the introduction to the American public of expressive, more emotionally raw and intimate Caribbean/Latin dance and music, including the memorable Bossa Nova style. The passion and drama of Latin dance displays this cultural evolution in the final portion of the show headlined by the mesmerizing pairing of Maks and Olympic Gold Medalist and DWTS Mirror Ball Trophy winner, Meryl Davis, whose smoldering Argentine Tango danced to ‘Montserrat’ and Rumba to ‘Read All About It’ left the audience begging for more. The playfully flirty and sensual Samba/Mambo fusion to ‘El Watusi/Ran Kan Kan’ performed by Maks and Peta Murgatroyd, backed by the cast, illustrated the unfettered joy exhibited within this genre. Henry Bialykov and Artem Chigvintsev continued to impress during these scenes. They, along with Serge Onik, were a visual backbone in the ‘Havana Jazz Dance’ number and in many scenes throughout the production.

Some of the same dance styles appear in each Scene, but they present very differently based upon the musical selections and choreography. For example, each iteration of the Jive is completely different in feel, yet recognizable via signature kicks and flicks. An offshoot of American swing dances, particularly the Jitterbug popularized by the legendary Cab Calloway, the Jive emerged via African-American dance, eventually spreading to the broader population and internationally. Danced to a wide variety of music, SWAY’s choreography superbly illustrates the ‘language’ of the Jive and other dance styles are performed with different ‘dialects’.

In conclusion, SWAY: A Dance Trilogy is brilliant, seamlessly fusing the artistry and athleticism of dance movement within the diverse and uniquely American cultural and societal historical context, with secondary stories woven throughout the production. Entranced, the audience enjoyed superb performances, quality production values, and dazzling, unspoken narrative choreographed by David Thomas Moore and Joao Tiago Fernandes. From beginning to end, SWAY: A Dance Trilogy is  ‘must see’ theater worthy of a residency or touring 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:

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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

 

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About SharonKinDC (15 Articles)
Intellectually curious. Asks 'why not'? Wife, Mother, Friend, Bizwoman. Love travel, architecture, design. Zep phreak. CFam supporter.

8 Comments on SWAY: A Dance Trilogy Review

  1. Excellent recap of the show! I was able to visualize what the show, as a whole, was about.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Martha Peppers // December 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm //

    A very nice article, and I wish I had the opportunity to have seenit .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Can’t wait to hear the final review after Zendaya is back with her family. I know she and Valentin will slay the stage!!! Please put this on DVD and BluRay.

    I love all off the dancers in this production!!! But living in a small town in sw VA, it would be so hard for me to make a show.

    #Sway

    Liked by 1 person

    • To my eternal regret, I didn’t have tickets this time for Zendaya’s performance. Did attend three other SWAY show’s this week. Here is my review from July, when I saw the very lovely Zendaya dance in both SWAY shows. TinyUrl.com/nqjzscc PS- I did see Zendaya and her parents at the After Party on Saturday night. Such a pleasant young lady with delightful parents.

      Like

  4. Reblogged this on SWAY: A Dance Trilogy and commented:

    In case you missed it.

    Like

  5. This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
    Thank you!

    Like

  6. Most welcome, Ballet shoes! Now that the next SWAY production run has been announced, I hope you’ll be able to attend. It truly is a fantastic show, certainly one of my top three, and vies for the number one position. My other favorites are ‘Spring Awakening’ and ‘Into the Woods’, both of which I saw prior to winning all sorts of awards. SWAY is that good, imo.

    Like

  7. Here’s to many more fantastic @SWAYshow productions. Can’t wait! Thanks, Val, for sharing my review!

    Like

12 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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  4. SWAY: A Dance Trilogy, Featuring Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, Valentin Chmerkovskiy with Special Guest, Olympic Gold Medalist, Meryl Davis in NYC, June 5 & 6 | SWAY: A Dance Trilogy
  5. SWAY: A Dance Trilogy, 07-26-2014, v. 1.0 Review | SWAY: A Dance Trilogy
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