By: Sharon Knapik
My group went from Front row at Wednesday’s @DanceWithMeUSA’s SWAY: A Dance Trilogy production, to excellent seats in the Loge last night, Thursday, December 18. Front row was great for observing detail and quite literally enjoying one on one interaction with some of the cast, including Alex Samusevich, Ted Volynets, Alla Kocherga , Henry Byalikov and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, all of whom quite literally looked us in the eye, at times, during the performance. Can’t beat that connection and the way it engages the audience member into the performance.
What our Loge seats offered was a comprehensive perspective of the entire performance, yet close enough, much of the fine detail was retained. Thursdays seats made it easier to see the ‘story within the story’ in various scenes. There is so much humor woven into many of the scenes, it takes careful viewing or repeated viewing to absorb it all. There is a lot going on in this production on many different levels.
SWAY is very much a family undertaking of love and Mama Chmerkovskiy was right there with us in the Loge applauding… gleefully so, when my daughter initiated some of the applause, beating her to the punch. This family love features into Val Chmerkovskiy’s rap, ‘Concrete Jungle’ and the Chmerkovskiy belief ‘family over everything’ and it’s clear that the cast, much of who are reunited former students of Maksim or Valentin or professional colleagues who have worked together on Broadway in ‘Burn the Floor’ and on television in ‘Dancing with the Stars’ are performing as much for love of each other as for love of dance. This cast is family, regardless if by choice or blood and the audience can feel it.
The quick difference between Wednesday PM and Thursday PM performances, was crowd size and cohesive storyline due to differing cast and scenes. Thursdays audience, while smaller, was a bit more raucous. There appeared to be a fair amount of DWM students and friends of the cast, judging by the woohoos and cheers last evening. A bit of a raucous audience adds a warmth which enhances a show like SWAY. Post show offerings of meeting/greeting appeared to run far more smoothly than the previous evening, which sadly, due to massive crowd size and resulting post- show blazing hot temperature in the venue, ended up being a disappointment for many. It was confirmed by a Dance With Me employee this event was set up differently than the previous night.
As for the cohesive storyline, while the first two acts were the same and equally strong and impressive as Wednesday night, the third act was materially different as the Argentine Tango and Rumba, performed Wednesday evening by Olympic Gold Medal winner and celebrity guest, Meryl Davis and her DWTS partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, were switched out for Peta Murgatroyd and Maks’ cha cha inspired, flirty, fun dance and a more intense rumba fusion toward the end of the last act. The change in line up benefited the show in two ways. First, Maks’ section is reminiscent of a 50’s club in Miami and the mood is fun and festive. This section not only shows the Passion of Latin, but the Joy which is infused in much Latin music and dance. Wednesday’s Argentine Tango and Rumba to ‘Montserrat’ and ‘Read All About It’ were choreographed for a different show with a different intent. Thus, those dances weren’t representative of the setting in SWAY. On Thursday, Peta and Maks’ performances to ‘Summertime’ and ‘Seria Facil’ were choreographed specifically for SWAY making the third segment far more visually accessible with a far more apparent story arc.
Another difference is in Meryl and Maks’ solo pieces, Maks functions as the ‘table’ (or ‘vase,’ per the final installment of the ‘Making of SWAY’ here) Which WAS a very important discussion to have captured in the most recent ‘Making of SWAY’ video, because Maks serves two different functions with his different partners on each night and the contrast in the intent is quite apparent. Two nights, two different sets of headliner solo dances: all fantastic, with differing vibe. On Thursday, he was not the ‘table’ or the ‘vase’ serving to highlight and showcase his partner. He was dancing full out, energized and highly engaged with the audience. Fabulous rapid footwork and mesmerizing hip action. Passionate, intense, flirty and fun, they shook their very attractively shaped and extraordinarily fit booties so energetically at one point, I think they could have perfectly blended a couple hundred perfectly shaken martini’s with those moves. Maks and Peta were utterly fantastic, enchanting the audience and appeared to thoroughly enjoy their performance.
The finale, to ‘SWAY’ also changed a bit from the previous day and featured a highly comedic interaction between Val and Maks. Needless to say, the elder brother led the younger.
It is my fondest wish that Meryl Davis performs again in SWAY 3.0 to new choreography which is designed for SWAY and thus, fits seamlessly into the narrative as well as continuing to see Peta and the rest of the SWAY line up of headliners, celebrity guests and fantastic supporting cast.
After seeing four SWAY shows over the past 6 months, I’m just as eager as ever to see show number five tomorrow evening with more friends. When a theater performance is so compelling, seeing it multiple nights in a week feels fresh every night, you know that viewer sees a hit of a production.
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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
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