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Ballroom big in Boca and Miami theaters

Staff Writer

There is always room for more ballroom.

Two terpsichorean talent-fests are coming to South Florida. First up is "Ballroom: South Beach Style" at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton's Sugar Sand Park Jan. 9-11.

"It's a little bit of a timeline story about the South Beach and Miami scene," explains the show's director/choreographer Kevin Black. "We open the show in the heyday of the '40s and [go into] the Rat Pack era. And we go through time highlighting South Florida landmarks...finishing with a huge 30-minute latin extravaganza."

The music comes from the Miami sounds of artists such as Gloria Estefan, KC and the Sunshine Band, Ricky Martin and a few SoFlo imports such as Madonna and Whitney Houston (who filmed part of the movie "The Bodyguard" at the Fontainebleau). Other songs come from Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Phil Collins and Santana.

The show was created three and half years ago just as ratings soared on TV dancing competitions like "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance."

"Like with any show, it's always more exciting when it's live in front of you," says Black, who lives in Plantation. "But we have gorgeous sets where the design is very reminiscent of the grandeur of a ballroom and ...beautifully rhinestone [and] incredibly ornate costuming. And the dancers from all over South Florida are top, top notch."

CLICK HERE "Ballroom: South Beach Style" showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $30. To order, call 561-347-3948 or go to The Willow Theatre at Sugar sand Park is at 300 S. Military Blvd., Boca Raton.

The second show - "Ballroom with a Twist" at the Knight Concert Hall in Miami Jan. 31 for two performances - has ballroom pros from both of those dance TV shows. 

The cast will include Cheryl Burke, Dmitry Chaplin and Tony Dovolani of "Dancing with the Stars" as well as Miami native Nick Garcia, Randi Lynn Strong and Alan Bersten from "So You Think You Can Dance."

Garcia - who was a finalist in last summer's season 11 of "So You Think You Can Dance" (which was won by fellow Miamian Ricky Ubeda CLICK HERE) - did a quick Q&A with us via email.

Q. What have you been doing since “So You Think You Can Dance?”

A. “Since SYTYCD, I have been teaching around the United States. I have also just recently moved to LA. I have been so blessed to be where I am today, and SYTYCD played a huge part in helping me achieve these incredible accomplishments.” 

Q. You are still very young, but when you were on SYTYCD you were only 18. Was that an advantage or a challenge?

A. “I think being on the show at such an early age was both an advantage and a challenge. I think it was an advantage because I got to learn a lot from all of my friends who have been in the dance business for a while. I think it was a challenge because up until that point I hadn't done anything by myself. The show was a huge stepping stone for me.”

Q. When you are not doing ballroom, what do you do in South Florida to have fun?

A. “When I'm not dancing in Miami, I love hanging with my family and my friends. We go out on the boat and we love to go to the beach.

Q. You recently moved to L.A., but when you lived in Miami where did you go to school and train?

A. “In South Florida, I attended New World School of the Arts and Monsignor Edward Pace High School and had some amazing memories in each of them. As a dancer, I attended DanceTown Dance Studio in Doral. I still love to go back and visit the studio and even take class.”

Q. What do you parents do?

A. “My parents own an advertising agency in South Florida. It's called the Menda Group and has been in business for 17 years.”

Q. What were your appearances on “Sabado Gigante” and “America’s Got Talent” like?

A. “Performing on shows like ‘Sabado Gigante’ and ‘America's Got Talent’ were huge stepping stones for me. It was great to learn from the choreographers throughout the respective shows. I made countless and unforgettable memories on both of them.”

Q. What are you most looking forward with this show “Ballroom with a Twist?”

A. “I'm looking forward to so much on ‘Ballroom With a Twist.’ I can't wait to meet and get to know so many new people and have the privilege to learn and dance with them."

CLICK HERE "Ballroom with a Twist" showtimes on Saturday, Jan. 31 are 5:30 and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $35-$300. To order, call 305-949-6722 or go to The Knight Concert Hall in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is at 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.


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