Strobe lights, spray tans, serious ballroom swagger, pretending you’re Len Goodman for the night – it’s all part of the razzle dazzle that is Dancing Pros: Live!
As super nerdy Dancing With the Stars fans, we giddily headed downtown to catch the very limited engagement at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, and found that while the show is meant to channel the excitement already attached to primetime’s most successful dance competition show, there’s a lot lost in translation from silver screen to stage.
Emmy-nominated actor Alan Thicke plays host, with Edyta Silwinksa, Dancing with the Stars’ original poster girl as a judge, and features competitor Chelsie Hightower, a So You Think You Can Dance and DWTS veteran; fellow SYTYCD competitor Ryan Di Lello; actor and dancer Oscar Orosco; and American Idol and The Voice vocalists Joanna Pacitti and Angel Taylor; plus five couples consisting of dance champions Artur Adamski (who looks just like Ryan Gosling), Paul Barris, Tess Buchatsky, Alexander Chernositov, Dmitry Demidov, Denys Drozdyuk, Arina Grishanina, Regina Maziarz, Antonina Skobina and Anastasia Trutneva.
Split into two rounds, the first showcases a combination of ensemble numbers, and the second, more duets, after which the audience gets to vote for a winning couple via handy dandy voting devices. (The whole thing lasted around 110 minutes with a brief intermission in between.)
Three judges, led by Silwinksa, offer real-time feedback, adding to the drama, excitement and unpredictability of each performance, which did include some glittery wardrobe malfunctions, missed steps and and musical blunders.
That being said, the talent the dancers show during each routine is unmistakable. Nimble and light, each pulls off impressive choreography, gorgeous lifts, and manages at least 20 quick costume changes, going from flirty ostrich feathers to long lyrical gowns without missing a beat. Both the male and female dancers showed incredible athleticism and sculpted muscles, which may or may not have had me making mental notes to Google dance workouts for later.
The one thing that stood out as unnecessary though was Orosco. One of the judges for the night, the talented hip hop dancer excelled at showing off his break dancing and capoeira-inspired moves throughout the show, which was cool at first, but after repeating the same moves over and over again during various numbers it got old. Still don’t get it.
The obvious highlight of the evening was the winning couple: Grishanina, Denmark Latin Champion, and her partner Chernositov, US 10 Dance Champion. Their first duet, a dark, dramatic Pasodoble was crazy amazing, as was their subsequent Samba (a standing ovation followed); though I was torn between voting for them and the diminutive Skobina and Drozdyuk, who brought Sliwinska to tears (and gave my husband goosebumps) with the beauty of their modern dance number.
Not a bad escape from another night spent fast-forwarding through shows on the DVR.
Photo credits: Broadway in Chicago
We attended Dancing Pros: Live! at the kind invitation of Broadway in Chicago.