‘Ballroom with a Twist’ at Wolf Trap by Eric Denver


“Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” is one of the songs from A Chorus Line, but doesn’t quite fit the Wolf Trap production Ballroom with a Twist at all. The best way to describe what was happening at the Filene Center last night was “Dance 100, Looks 100.” I must admit as a fan of Dancing with the Stars, I have marveled over their choreography beamed into America’s homes on a weekly basis. Being at Wolf Trap tonight to witness a combination of song and dance was both inspiring and mind-blowing. The producers of this event were obviously successful in incorporating the three most-watched reality shows on television (Dancing with the Stars (DWTS)American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance) and bringing them together in one venue. At the outset, the curtain opened on an empty stage except for a huge flat projection screen. That screen became the backdrop for all the action behind the performers incorporating computer graphics that dazzled the audience with multiple pulsating objects of numerous sizes, shapes and colors. The unnamed staff member responsible for these graphical interpretations is both recognized and commended. DWTS performers Tristan MacManus and Anna Trebunskaya were the principal Masters of Ceremonies (MCs) ably assisted during the evening by Peta Murgatroyd and Derek Hough. Dress was extremely formal with the Male MCs sporting black tuxes while the females were dressed in silver chiffon outfits.

“Ballroom With a Twist” cast. Photo by Alexander Sklij.
“Ballroom With a Twist” cast. Photo by Alexander Sklij.

Combining both choreography and vocal arrangements strengthened the show.  At times, there was just dancing, other times only singing, and at best when both singing and dancing were simultaneously combined. The Production Manager accomplished the difficult task of maintaining the audience’s attention level by incorporating an interactive component of the show. The MCs grabbed volunteers from the audience to dance with them on stage, took questions from members about their respective careers, encouraged everyone to get up and “shake it” and towards the end of the evening demanded that we get up and practice some of the dance steps we had seen on stage. At times, to the audience’s delight, the male dancers provided some of their own hoopla when they danced bare-chested while the female dancers wore some scantily-clad outfits. One could observe the perspiration pouring off their bodies due to the high humidity.

Some of the songs included in the evening’s repertoire were: “Without Love,” “You Can Talk to Me,” and “Walking in Memphis.” Von Smith who was on Season 8 of American Idol blew the audience out of their seats as he sang “Fish in the Sea.” All twelve of the dancers performed admirably during the evening, but one deserves special mention – Legacy. He is one of the most sought after dancers in the entertainment industry and his break dancing is amazing. Utilizing his entire body to the fullest extent, he threw himself into somersaults, walked on his hands across the stage and danced on his head. I can only imagine what other feats he is capable of.

Act II began with Von Smith singing “The Prayer” followed by John Lennon’s “Imagine.” His dynamic range is beyond belief. Melinda Doolittle did a heartwarming interpretation of the Wiz’s “Spun Around in Space,” while Gina Glocksen performed a memorable version of “Havana.” “Quanta la Mera” was playing in the background as all 10 dancers took to the Stage followed by a magnificent interpretation of “Fever.” Von Smith ended the evening with his beautiful rendering of “Push Comes to Shove.”

Production Manager Michael White appears to have a hit on his hands as this show will be touring throughout the United States. Don’t miss it when it comes to your town!

Running Time: Two hours and 10 minutes, including one 20-minute intermission.

Ballroom With a Twist played on August 7, 2013 for one-night-only at the Filene Center at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts – 1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For future events, check out their Calendar of Events.