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Review: Maks and Val dance up a storm in biographical show

Matthew J. Palm
Contact ReporterOrlando Sentinel Arts Critic
Review: Maks and Val dance up a storm in biographical show

The brothers Chmerkovskiy brought their stylish dance moves to Orlando's Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday in a show that had the audience hooting and hollering for more.

Maksim, 36, and Valentin, 30, came to prominence on TV's "Dancing With the Stars," and there's plenty of ballroom bravura on display in their touring show, titled "Our Way."

There's more heart to the endeavor than you might expect based on the sequined slickness of the popular television show. Top-notch costumes and lighting give Maks and Val's routines a theatrical boost. But there's also a healthy serving of cheese.

The brothers, who have frequently appeared bare-chested on "Dancing With the Stars," share gentle banter.

Maks tells the audience to prepare for "something no one has even seen before — Val fully clothed, buttons and everything."

"These are snaps," Val retorted, pulling his shirt open to expose his pectorals. (Another round of shrieking from the audience.)

Their affection for each other is genuine, and the show's first half charmingly tells their family's rags-to-riches story. Dad, seen in video clips, says he has "no clue" why he and his wife enrolled young Maks in dance lessons in their native Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. After the USSR broke up in 1991, the family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in New York City.

"We dreamed for America… the American dream," Dad says. And that's what the family lived: Learning English, opening a dance studio, performing at local restaurants, forging a new life.

The biography is frequently — and entertainingly — interrupted by big dance numbers; the brothers are backed by a hard-working troupe of 10 other dancers. A pre-American number, with Communist claptrap and a military feel, is hokey. But the other numbers are clever, graceful, energetic and precise — an elegant Viennese waltz is especially eye-catching.

The scattered second half is where the cheese comes in as the guys pontificate on love with banalities such as "Love is not just butterflies and unicorns." Best to ignore that and focus on the dancing, which continues to impress. We never get the "riches" part of their story — "Dancing With the Stars" isn't even mentioned — but the fancy footwork is worth the price of admission.

Also at the Dr. Phillips Center

What: In the Tony-winning musical 'Spring Awakening,' young students discover who they are in spite of society's repression. The DayStar Studio production has an international cast.

Where: Dr. Phillips Center, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., Orlando

• When: 2:30 and 8 p.m. through Saturday, June 25; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26

Cost: $29.82

Call: 844-513-2014

Online: drphillipscenter.org

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