“Dancing with the Stars” has a knack for drawing people in. A woman who enjoys competitive dance tunes in. Her husband sits down next to her for a moment and soon, he’s hypothesizing about who’ll be eliminated and who should take the prize.
The TV show, now in its 11th year, centers on celebrities who agree to take dance lessons — often for the first time — then don spangled costumes to vie for glory on the televised dance floor.
“It was tough. It took a lot of work. The show is so hard, it brings athletes to their knees in tears, ” Donny Osmond, who won the show’s ninth season, recently told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
As the stars achieve a level of fitness and grace they didn’t think possible, they receive guidance from professional dancers. “DWTS” aficionados follow the doings of these mentors almost as closely as those of their famous partners.
It’s the professionals who are highlighted in “Dancing with the Stars: Live!,” which will be presented Feb. 12 at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino. The “Dance All Night” production comes on the heels of two back-to-back, sold-out Dancing with the Stars: Live! tours.
The 90-minute production features a bigger cast than ever, including Lindsay Arnold, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Brittany Cherry, Artem Chigvintsev, Valentin Chmerkovski, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd and Emma Slater.
The occasional guest star also takes the stage, such as season 21 contestant Alek Skarlatos, who rose to prominence after helping to disarm and subdue a gunman on a Paris-bound train.
For the purposes of “Dancing with the Stars: Live!,” the absence of the titular stars is a boon rather than a deficit, according to Massachusetts Live reporter Ray Kelly.
“One of the benefits of the current tour over the popular ABC TV series is the absence of the celebrity contestants. . . . The performers do not have to dumb it down to accommodate novice partners and the results are joyous,” he wrote in a January review.
Even die-hard boosters of the TV show consider the live version a delight. These include KABC-TV Los Angeles entertainment reporter George Pennacchio, who has covered “DWTS” since season 1.
Dancers like Chigvintsev, Motsepe, Murgatroyd and Slater “all respect the art form to such a grand degree that it’s joyful to see them take the stage and do what they do best,” Pennacchio told the Reno-Gazette Journal.
“The live shows aim to give the audience something extra,” he added. “Since it’s not a competition, that pressure doesn’t exist for any of the dancers. The goal is just to entertain and wow the crowd. The best thing is that they all love what they feel so privileged to do — and it shows.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Arnold, who is noted for her acumen with Latin dance and her dedication as a mentor. She’s characterized the 43-stop U.S. tour as “insane” and “awesome.”
Her goal, she told the Connecticut Post in January, “is to keep improving every single day... to never stop trying. The tour is a great experience because you get to see so many fans who are so supportive. And that inspires me to work even harder.”
The crowd won’t see anyone claim the mirror ball trophy at the conclusion of the 90-minute extravaganza. They will be treated to new choreography, as well as performances of some of the most popular numbers from the TV show. There will be waltzes, tango and all manner of Latin-inspired moves as well as more contemporary routines.
Performers like Chmerkovski have been effusive in their promotion of the “Dance All Night” tour.
“You think you've seen us on TV, but seeing us on ‘Dancing with the Stars: Live!’ is an experience like no other,” he said in a press release.
Certainly, the tour offers a balm for diehard “DWTS” stalwarts, who must wait till the end of March before the next season of the TV show premieres.