Empty House Party – Pasadena – 2011
January 31, 2011
Brush & Shutter: Early Photography in China – Getty Center
February 2, 2011

Dance spectacle – “Ballroom with a Twist” at El Portal, NoHo

Ballroom - Louis Van Amstel and Niecy Nash

***

A stunning and highly entertaining (if slightly cheesy) dance extravaganza, Louis Van Amstel”™s Ballroom with a Twist gives audiences the opportunity to experience first-hand a banquet of first-class ballroom dancing.

Ballroom - ensemble

Photos Credit: Alexander’s Photography

A Dutch-born ballroom dance champion, professional dancer, choreographer and dancesport coach, Louis Van Amstel is one of the professional dancers who is paired with a celebrity on the highly successful competition reality television series Dancing With The Stars (aka DWTS – eleven seasons and counting). Amstel”™s dream of staging his own show is the culmination of an illustrious 20-year career as a performer and competitive dancer. In his show, Van Amstel hosts and occasionally dances alongside feisty comedienne Niecy Nash, who was his hard-working partner in last year”™s season of DWTS. Featuring a rotating celebrity cast, other stars are slated to host throughout the season, which runs until February 13, 2011. Jane Seymour will co-host on Feburary 4, 5 and 6th only. Other celebrity co-hosts for later in the season are TBA.

Ballroom -- Edyta Sliwinska, Alec Manzo in Paso Doble

Ballroom with a Twist is a ground-breaking show that pushes the boundaries of ballroom dance, infusing it with energy and the intensity of classic ballroom moves as well as the latest authentic, hip-hop and Broadway dance styles. Featuring an amazing ensemble, Ballroom with a Twist is an extravagant evening of entertainment for the entire family, highlighted by stunning costumes, magnificent music and breathtaking performances.  The entertainment features the talents of professional dancers, including four dance pros from DWTS; Edyta Sliwinska, Alec Mazo, Jonathan Roberts, Anna Trebunskaya as well as other dancers at the top of their game Randi Lynn Evans, Gev Manoukian and Jonathan Platero.

“The costumes are pretty much what you see on DWTS,” van Amstel confesses. In other words they”™re colorful, flashy and – for the women – barely there. “They’re young, they”™re hot, they”™re in the best shape of their lives,” the dance master says of his cast.

The glittering, elegant costumes, courtesy of Randall Designs, are figure-hugging sexy, flowing and dazzling – featuring plenty of compulsory rhinestones, as if someone went a little crazy with the “˜bedazzling”™ tool – as well as casual and relaxed for some of the modern dance numbers. As if to top everyone else sartorially, one of Niecy Nash”™s sexy and glittery short tasseled gowns was so laden with flashing crimson beads that she looked like a red mirror ball!

This is indeed a well-orchestrated show that is fluidly staged, progressing seamlessly from fast numbers to slow ballads, from dance to song and back to dance. When the dancer duos or corps de dance (meaning ensemble of dancers) are not swiveling their hips, a couple of also-ran American Idol singers (Gina Glocksen and David Hernandez) are belting out some tunes, occasionally backed by an unobtrusive dance routine. The singers”™ performances are good, if unremarkable.

Ballroom - ensemble - Latin

Perhaps that”™s because it”™s really all about the dance. So much more than a showcase of breathtaking dance routines and performers, their sexy, athletic bodies draped with gorgeous costumes, Van Amstel”™s well-orchestrated show also celebrates diversity with its casting of various races and even body shapes. (Yes, skinny bitches in heels dominate the dance floor, but there are also a couple of curvy, full-figured women flawlessly strutting their stuff.)  Van Amstel hosts the evening, assisted by hilarious comedienne Niecy Nash (his “˜star”™ partner from the most recent season of DWTS) and she brings a welcome comedic element as well as tearing up the dance floor.

Acknowledging Bob Fosse and Tito Fuentes as influences, Louis Van Amstel conceives and choreographs a supremely entertaining show, suitable for audiences young and old.

To view a clip of the show, go here.

Ballroom with a Twist

El Portal Theatre

5269 Lankershim Blvd.,

North Hollywood.

Runs:

Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 3 p.m. thru Feb. 13, 2011.

Tickets:

$25-$100.00

Box office:

(818) 508-0281 and (818) 508-4200

Photos Credit: Alexander’s Photography

Review by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek
Pauline Adamek
Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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