"Dancing With the Stars Live!" is on tour and stopped at the Palace Theatre in Albany.
What’s not to love about “Dancing With the Stars Live!” tour?
Yes, it is cheesy, and yes, it is contrived. But it is pure eye candy that flashes so quickly that I still can’t tell if, on Wednesday night, I was entertained or stunned.
Either way, I barely remember what happened at the Palace Theatre. The images do linger, however, of scantily clad dancers who gobble up the space to pop tunes in front of swirling digital backdrops on a two-story stage.
I’m not a fan of ABC’s long-running and popular competitive dancing showcase. But I do understand the attraction. It’s dancers – who in Albany included such champs as Emma Slater, Whitney Carson, Gleb Savchenko and Sasha Farber – are all fine ballroom technicians. They are sleek, polished and know how to play to the audience. They lend every step -- in such dances as a paso doble or a waltz – a confident attitude, unleashing showy flourishes that are typically kept under wraps in a sanctioned ballroom event.
Its “stars” are another matter. Rarely does the show have A- or even B-listers. Mainly, their stars are fallen ones, ones seeking their first or second shot at fame or any fame at all.
Singer Ally Brooke was the night’s celebrity guest. It was her last night on the tour and it’s probably a good thing. She looked terribly unable to move competently and each of her appearances, despite her partner’s best efforts, were embarrassing.
Luckily, the sequined females and the bare-chested male dancers were marvelous. Among my favorite dances were a tango to the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and a lyrical one to the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.” The pairing of music and dance were always surprising, proving that clever choreography, well danced, can be coupled with nearly any song.
The team of five male dancers also did a silly bit where they pulled five women, of a certain age, up onstage for a lap dance. It was hilarious and all of the women seemed to enjoy the joke.
What struck me the most was the dancers’ generosity. Valentin Chmerkovskiy came out solo to tell the crowd how much he appreciated Capital Region fans who have cheered them on in previous tours – including one at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. His sincere thank you was followed by a video Valentine from the ensemble that was also sweet.
The gesture wiped a bit of the TV sheen away – showing a glimmer of heart and humanity. “Dancing With the Stars” is more than spray tans, sexy costumes and plastered on smiles. It’s people who love to dance and do it in dazzling style.