Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ballroom with a Twist Review

Feeling Good!

Dancing with the Stars alum Lacey Schwimmer playfully observed, "I heard people in Maryland are awesome." They are, Lacey... especially the near-sellout crowd at the Strathmore Music Center earlier tonight. The palatial concert hall played host to Ballroom with a Twist, a hybrid of high-energy song and dance that had hands-a-clappin' and toes-a-tappin' for two full hours (+ intermission.)

Schwimmer pulled double-duty, along with fellow DWTS (and So You Think You Dance) star Dmitry Chaplin, as the talented duo balanced dance moves with hosting (including a lively Q&A with the audience, before intermission.) Their energy and enthusiasm was infectious, encouraged by Dmitry's, "Treat it like a sporting event," and Schwimmer's more seductive, "If you want to see some hot dancing and skin... clap harder." Cue thunderous applause from that point forward.

Speaking of thunder... American Idol's Von Smith (season 8) almost brought the house down with a stirring rendition of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good." No offense to Kris Allen, but how on Earth did Smith not win American Idol that year? Smith was later joined by The X Factor's Caitlin Koch, who was making her tour debut. She certainly didn't show any sign of opening-day jitters, and belted out a sweet version of Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis."

The show had a quick pace, and a nice mix of dancing and singing (with a nod to the former.) There wasn't much in terms of set design, save for a table and a couple of chairs (for a tango number between Dmitry and Lacey.) Makes sense, since there were up to six pairs of dancers on stage at a time, including several other DWTS and So You Think Can Dance participants. Although Dmitry and Lacey's tango was pretty darn hot, top honors for best dance of the night go to a funk-ified adaptation of Dirty Dancing's "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." Hats off to all the dancers: They not only looked good (really, really good) but they moved with dazzling precision and sultriness for each and every number.

Technically, Strathmore is "in between" seasons; but it's obvious they haven't given up on summer entertainment. Tonight's show was preceded by a festive Party on the Patio with drink and food specials (in addition to a prix fixe dinner at the well-reviewed Prelude CafĂ©.) I was also encouraged to see a universally younger cast (mostly 20-somethings) providing all the entertainment for a change, instead of only background dancers/vocals. There's still tons to do and see at Strathmore, before September... including Free Summer Outdoor Concerts every Wednesday through August 19th, Blues Alley's 50th Anniversary (next Saturday) Boz Scaggs and the one-and-only Melissa Etheridge on August 26th. "In between" seasons? Yeah, right!