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Champions of the Dance: A One-Night Celebration of Ballroom Dance at Town Hall

by Tonya Plank
January 23, 2009
Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 840-2824
On Friday evening, January 23, 2009, Town Hall, in midtown Manhattan, presented an evening of ballroom dance, showcasing several top American couples. It is not often that ballroom dance is presented outside of a ballroom competition and on a proscenium stage, and this production, which consisted not of a unified theme or storyline but of a variety of ballroom showdance numbers choreographed by the show's director Taliat Tarsinov, proved that audiences are hungry for more.

The auditorium was nearly full and the audience, which resembled more of a pop music concert crowd than a typical concert dance one, applauded wildly both throughout at the end of many numbers, particularly those danced by the sexy, sultry Matt and Karen Hauer, the current American Mambo champions. Much to the audience's continuing thrill, the Hauers – a husband and wife team who are also top American Rhythm competitors — danced several numbers, some slower and more romantic, others faster, sharper and sassier, including their championship-winning Mambo full of sprightly jumps, lightening-speed hip action, and extremely precise, nimble footwork.

Also performing were Delyan Terziev and Boriana Deltcheva, a top Latin ballroom couple. Another husband and wife team, both are tall and thin, giving their Latin dancing – particularly their Samba, which they performed first — a snaky, slinky, sinuous feel. One of the highlights of the evening was their Latin combination showdance routine danced to "Money" from the Broadway musical, "Cabaret," which they performed last year on the PBS show "America's Ballroom Challenge." The crowd went wild when Deltcheva taunted Terziev as he knelt between her legs, looked up longingly and plucked unsuccessfully at her costume, made almost entirely of dollar bills.

Another crowd favorite was Mayo Alanen and Lisa Vogel, a top American Smooth couple. They opened with a gorgeously sexy Waltz / Foxtrot / Tango combination, she in a fiery red dress, making beautiful lines by extending one of her long legs high into the air as he spun her around in a continuous turn. Later they did a charming Foxtrot to "Singin' in the Rain," over which the audience again went wild.

Also performing were Tony Scheppler and Erin Bomboy, another Smooth couple who performed some spectacular, very difficult-looking lifts, and Michael Nadtochi and Angeles Chanaha, who performed a couple of luxuriant Argentine Tangos.

The only thing marring the evening was a spoken word soundtrack played between each dance. The narrator would make obvious or over-generalized statements like, "dance is a celebration of life," or "dance is often considered a vertical expression of horizontal desires." In the audience many heads shook and mumbles abounded; people seemed annoyed at the trivial lines. Perhaps in a future show the narrator could either give the audience little-known details about the world of ballroom dance or dance icons like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or else not say anything at all. There really wasn't a need for the narration, just the lovely music and of course the wonderful dancing.
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