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Dancers bring own magic to show

Dancing With The Stars alumni Tristan MacManus and Anna Trebunskaya kick up their heels with the WSO Friday.


Dancing With The Stars alumni Tristan MacManus and Anna Trebunskaya kick up their heels with the WSO Friday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2015 (1867 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Anyone who's ever glued themselves each week to such wildly popular reality television shows as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars can attest the worldwide ballroom dance craze has never been hotter.

The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's final Pops show of the season titled Ballroom with a Twist -- no chaser -- featured a 15-member cast headlined by DWTS' Anna Trebunskaya and Tristan MacManus.

Also appearing were four dance finalists from So You Think You Can Dance: a male dancer simply known as Legacy, Jonathan Platero, Jordan Casanova and Nick Garcia.

The WSO's tireless resident conductor Julian Pellicano led the orchestra through two full sets of sambas, jives, salsa, among others, as well as several vocal numbers sung by guest vocalists Gina Glocksen-Ruzicka and Von Smith, both finalists from the hit series American Idol.

Originally conceived and choreographed by DWTS's Emmy-nominated Louis van Amstel, BWAT as a touring production has grown to become its own entity. Its current 11-city summer tour kicked off May 7 and runs through Aug. 16. Winnipeg is notably its only Canadian stop.

After a subdued orchestral introduction, the corps of five males came onstage to slink their way through The Look of Love. In fact, these testosterone-fuelled dancers were one of the show's highlights (no bias here), as they performed the Bob Fosse-inspired choreography with swaggering ease.

Then Trebunskaya and MacManus took the stage for two dances: Gershwin's I Got Rhythm -- a stylized mosh pit of waltz, quickstep and Charleston -- that earned the evening's first loud cheers. This, in turn, morphed into Singin' in the Rain that also provided one of the show's true-blue ballroom dances.

The two then ostensibly became hosts, with the Irish-born MacManus introducing the famously red-haired Trebunskaya as "Little Red Riding Hood."

Despite their, at times, awkward stage banter, they were nevertheless able to whip the already rowdy, younger crowd of 1,691 into a frenzy, cheekily promising "the hotter you get, the less clothes we wear." The Russian-born Trebunskaya also showed her renowned, adorable wit during a Q & A session, with one audience member even shouting out a marriage proposal to the lithe artist.

The high-octane show is mostly well-paced, with ballads such as Smith's blistering interpretation of Michael Bublé hit Feeling Good showing off his powerhouse vocals. Glocksen-Ruzicka also treated us to a soulful Gravity that also allowed the dancers to catch their breath -- or change into their next, eye-popping, sequin-encrusted costume.

Another highlight proved to be seeing a jaw-dropping breakdance performed by the top-knotted Legacy. His gravity-defying head spins, flips, twists and body isolations have to be seen to be believed, with his Act II solo worth the price of admission alone.

Several contemporary dances with the performers barefoot (isn't this what modern dance is in essence?) did not always allow for the emotional expression that dance is capable of. And there could easily have been less glitter, and more glamour with relatively scant actual ballroom dances -- waltz, foxtrot, and the like -- offered on the bill.

Still, the bedazzled crowd leapt to their feet at the end, clearly entertained by these polished and very slick performers.



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Updated on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 8:04 AM CDT: Formats fact box; adds photo.

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