Author Archives: Jana J. Monji

DWTS cast announced

Two Olympic gold medalists, an American Idol, a Disney Channel Star, a reality TV star and a football player. All that’s missing is the Playboy factor in this field of 11. American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler was one of the first “Dancing with the Stars” cast members leaked by the press, but the full announcement of the 11 new contestants and their professional dance partners was made this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The cast of stars are: NFL player Jacoby Jones, country music singer Wynonna Judd, stand-up comedian D.L. Hughley, Real Beverly Hills Housewife Lisa Vanderpump, comedian and rehab celeb Andy Dick, pro boxer Victor Ortiz, Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman, Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman, soap opera “General Hospital” star Ingo Rademacher, country singer Kellie Pickler and Olympic gold medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill.  Season 16 of DWTS begins on Monday, March 18 with a two-hour premiere  (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET) on ABC and will have a one-hour results show on March 26 (9 p.m. to 10:01 p.m.).

Probably the bigger surprise will be who isn’t returning among the professional dancers: Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Chelsie Hightower, Louis van Amstel, Anna Trebunskaya and Peta Murgatroyd. There will still be a Chmerkovskiy–Valentin. Derek Hough is back, despite reports that season 15 (All-Stars) was his last. New professional dancers are Lindsay Arnold who was a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance” (season 9), Sharna Burgess and Gleb Savchenko.

Savchenko previously was on the DWTS Australia cast and was the Australian National Professional Latin-American Champion for 2011-2012. Burgess is also Australian and represented that country at the World Championship in both Standard and Latin when she was 15. She also performed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony. She appeared in the UK tour of “Simply Ballroom” and in 2006 became a cast member of “Burn the Floor” which toured 30 countries and in 2009 was on Broadway where she was one of the lead female dancers.

Arnold was born in Provo, Utah and attended Timpview High School. Her specialty is Latin Ballroom.

  1. Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff
  2. Wynonna Judd & Tony Dovolani
  3. D.L. Hughley & Cheryl Burke
  4. Lisa Vanderpump & Gleb Savchenko
  5. Andy Dick & Sharna Burgess
  6. Victor Ortiz & Lindsay Arnold
  7. Zendaya Coleman & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
  8. Aly Raisman & Mark Ballas
  9. Ingo Rademacher & Kym Johnson
  10. Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough
  11. Dorothy Hamill & Tristan MacManus

Hosted by Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Brooke Burke-Charvet (“Dancing with the Stars” Season Seven Champion), “Dancing with the Stars” is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines which will be judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

“Dancing with the Stars” is the U.S. version of the international smash hit series, “Strictly Come Dancing.” This version is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Conrad Green serves as executive producer and Ashley Edens-Shaffer and Joe Sungkur are co-executive producers. Alex Rudzinski directs. “Dancing with the Stars” is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

“Dancing with the Stars” season 16 begins on Monday, March 18 with a two-hour premiere  (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET) on ABC and will have a one-hour results show on March 26 (9 p.m. to 10:01 p.m.).

Tango with a gangnam style ending

Your flight has been canceled Justin Bieber Dancers

Last chance to tune-up your tango this year with SYTYCD choreographers

Are you looking to make your New Year’s Eve especially romantic? Don’t miss the group classes with “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographers Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo this week on Monday and Tuesday in Downey.

Monday, 17 December 2012, beginners will be learning variations on cross systems because tango is all about contra-body movements. Intermediate dancers will be learning about musicality.

Tuesday night is the women’s and men’s separate styling classes where you’ll learn exercises to give you muscle memory and this particular class will be emphasizing complex figures with musicality. The intermediate class with be looking at more advanced aspects of musicality.

Monday (17 December 2012)

8 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Beginners class on variations on cross systems

9:05 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Intermediate class on musicality and decoding the rhythm

Tuesday (18 December 2012)

8 p.m. to 9 p.m.: Separate women and men’s styling classes on complex figures and musicality.

9:05 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.: Intermediate class on advanced musicality

 

Register Now Securely using Pay-Pal
www.LAdeTango.com

3 Classes pass: $48
1 Class: $18

Location:

Elks Lodge
11233 Woodruff Ave
Downey, CA 90241

Have a Cole Porter New Year’s Eve-Eve

Want to have an elegant holiday?  Want to escape the wet, slushy cold for the brisk sunny snow-less winter weather of Southern California? Escape to Los Angeles for an evening of Cole Porter music, stylish dancing on stage and  the possibility of romance with like-minded souls. All aboard for the Center Theatre Group’s special “Anything Goes” New Year’s Eve-Eve Singles Night.

You’ll have to book your own flight and hotel, but the rest is covered. Hunky dancer sailors and other “Anything Goes” cast members will attend the special early dinner at the supper club First & Hope Restaurant.  From 4 to 6 p.m., you’ll be eating jambalaya, black truffle macaroni and cheese, roasted rosemary garlic chicken au jus, Coca Cola braised short rib and grilled seasonal vegetables at this unassuming Art Deco New York Style dinner club. Of course, carefully selected white and red wines are included.

You’ll be walking over to the Sunday evening show of “Anything Goes” and sitting together in the mezzanine section $100 seats (included in the evening’s package).

Fans of the movie musical may also been surprised, but remember Hollywood often changes original musicals plot. In this case, Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse’s original book has been revised by Howard Lindsay and John Weidman. Yet “Anything Goes” has a history of revisions so purists shouldn’t be offended. The 1962 off-Broadway revival was revised, influenced by the movies. More Cole Porter songs were added such as “It’s De-Lovely” from “Red Hot and Blue” and “Friendship” from “DuBarry Was a Lady.”

The Tony Award-winning 1987 Broadway revival changed the order of some of the musical numbers and re-scored the music. It’s the revival of this 1987 version (which starred Patti Lupone) that opened on Broadway in 2011 with Sutton Foster playing Reno Sweeney. Foster went on to win a Tony for Best Actress. Rachel York takes Foster’s place on the national tour and her  Sweeney has plenty of glamour and she was able to muddle through a few technical problems with the microphones on opening night (for my full review)

After watching this cheery romance (6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.), while Cole Porter tunes are still running in your head, you’ll then skip back to First & Hope for post show champagne, coffee and tea and a luscious array of desserts: brownies, sugar cookies, profiteroles, peppermint marshmallows and a chocolate fountain. Cast members are expected to attend as well.

First & Hope’s swank Bar Fedora will also help get you into the mood with a bit of mood making lighting and some specially selected music.  The original costumes by designer Martin Pakledinaz will be on display. If that inspired you to find your inner glamour girl or channel the old Hollywood debonair air of say, Cary Grant, why not go tux and bow tie?

You don’t have to get all dolled up or dandified to attend. Holiday festive is requested. Dinner, delightful dancing and singing on-stage and the possibility of romance off-stage–what more can you ask as part of your New Year’s festivities?

For $98 what could be more delightful and delovely?  For more information, contact your social director for New Year’s Eve-Eve, Eileen Roberts at (213) 972-7249. The event is for adults. Parking is available at the Music Center parking lot off Grande Ave. for an additional fee of $9.

DWTS 15: All-Stars winner

Although it’s not always the one who best deserves the mirrorball trophy that wins it, for season 15, there were three lovely women who had worked hard, but also professional dancers who had been challenged this season with never before attempted dances.

Two of the three had won mirrorball trophies before, but it was reality show personality and host Melissa Rycroft and her partner Tony Dovolani who took the mirrorball trophy. It was a first for both.

Dovolani has been with DWTS every season since he debuted on season 2 with wrestler Stacy Kiebler. They finished third and until Tuesday night (Nov. 27), that was the best finish for Dovolani. Dovolani had finished third again during season 8 with Rycroft; Shawn Johnson and her then-partner Mark Ballas took home the mirrorball trophy that season with Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke in second place.

Dovolani and Keibler received 15 tens during season 2 with four perfect scores (samba and jive). Dovolani was paired with Broadway star Marissa Jaret Winokur for a fourth place finish on season 6.With Winokur he received no perfect scores or tens.

This time, Dovolani and Rycroft beat Johnson. During season 8 with Rycroft, Dovolani earned 13 tens and two perfect scores, both for samba. Johnson and Ballas received 14 tens with three perfect scores. They received 21 tens for five perfect scores. This season with Hough, Johnson had 21 tens and three perfect scores.

Monday night, Rycroft and Dovolani were perfect.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 for a samba to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan 
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (9.5,10.0,10.0) for a paso doble to ” Espana Cani“by Erich Kunzel 
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 27/30 (9.0,8.5,9.5) for a quickstep to “Hey Pachuco”by Royal Crown Revue 

The super-sized freestyle added other people, making this more like “America’s Got Talent.” Each group added different people, but the standings remained the same. Johnson and Hough and Rycroft and Dovolani posted perfect scores, but Monaco and Val were only a half-point behind.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 to “I Was Here” by Beyonce with trapeze artists.
  2. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 30/30 to “Carnival de Paris” by Dario G with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Team who had just competed this summer in London (Gabby DouglasMcKayla MaroneyAly RaismanKyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber).
  3. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (10.0,9.5,10.0) to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes with troupe members and a church choir. Monaco did some aerial tissu.

At the end of Monday night the rankings were:

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 60/60
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 59/60
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 57/60

In the final dance on Tuesday night, it was an instant Latin round.

  • Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 30.0 (10.0,10.0,10.0) for cha cha cha to “Respect” by Aretha Franklin 
  • Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5) for a Samba to “Life Is A Highway” by Tom Cochrane 
  • Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5) for a jive to “Cat and Mouse” by Nikki & Rich 

At the end of Tuesday night, the judges ranking was:

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 88.5/90
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 87.5/90
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 87/90

The rankings didn’t change, leaving Rycroft and Dovolani the winners, but the audience favored Johnson and Hough over Monaco and Chmerkovskiy. Rycroft is only the second TV personality to win the mirrorball trophy (the first was Brooke Burke with Derek Hough during season 7). She is the seventh female winner and the only reality TV star to win.

Dovolani has always seemed like a nice guy, even when he had what seemed like the ultimate challenge: Kate Gosselin. Their paso doble to Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” has become infamous.

Rycroft and Dovolani are perfect champions for season 15 of “Dancing with the Stars.”

DWTS 15: Finals

There will be a queen to the ballroom tomorrow after the final instant dance. Who will it be: Kelly Monaco, Melissa Rycroft or Shawn Johnson? You can still vote on  ABC.com website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

I have barely recovered from no men making the finals after last week’s double elimination took out Emmett Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno. The three female celebrity finalists are fantastic, of course, but men have a harder time learning the dancing because they are supposed to be leading.

Oh, Gilles Marini is an exceptional dancer. Apolo Anton Ohno was getting a bit more bravura than he had in his original outing. Emmett Smith has such a genial personality on the dance floor and he’s so big he can really dominate that space.

The only lovely lady who calls Los Angeles home is Kelly Monaco, the winner of the first season of “Dancing with the Stars.”  Monaco was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia but now calls West Hollywood home. She’s been on the ABC soap opera “General Hospital” since 2003 as the character Sam McCall. “General Hospital” is supposed to take place in the fictional city of Port Charles, New York. Her TV debut was with a Southern California based show “Baywatch.” She had been an actual life guard prior to being cast on the show.

When she competed on DWTS for the first season, she wasn’t the best dancer nor did she have the highest average score. She also almost had a wardrobe malfunction during one routine. Her partner was Alex Mazo and he came back for a special face-off with John O’Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jorgensen. The season was six weeks long and only required ten dances. This season (15) is 10 weeks long and requires 17 dances as of tonight, Tuesday. For the doubters, Monaco has really proved herself and has good chemistry with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy.

Melissa Rycroft originally competed during season 8 as a last-minute replacement for the injured Nancy O’Dell. She would finish in third place in May 2009, behind Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas (winners) and Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke (runners up).  Also in 2009, Rycroft got married and just last year, in February 2011, gave birth.

Johnson won an Olympic gold medal for balance beam and all-around in 2008. She was the 2007 all-around world champion and the U.S. all-around champion in 2007 and 2008. She was on a high when she won season 8 of DWTS. She had surgery on her knee in 2010 , after injuring it skiing. But this year, despite a team gold at the Pan American Games in 2011 and a silver for uneven bars, Johnson retired due to continuing left knee problems. She was not on the Olympic team that represented the U.S. in London.

Yet this season has Maksim’s younger brother, Val Chmerkovskiy emerging from his brother’s shadow. Wouldn’t it be something if Val and his partner Kelly Monaco won the trophy that has eluded his brother for 15 seasons? Maksim, of course, hasn’t been on DWTS for all 15 seasons. He wasn’t on the first season or the sixth season. His highest finish was second with Mel B during season five and 12 with Kirstie Alley. He came in third during season 4 (Laila Ali) and 10 (Erin Andrews). He finished fourth during season 11 with Brandy and season 13 with Hope Solo.

Val just began competing on DWTS during season 13 with Elisabetta Canalis for an 11th place finish. She was beautiful, but stiff and had just broken up with George Clooney. He loosened up a bit when he had the bubbly Sherri Shepherd as a partner the next season (14) for a 10th place finish.

Tony Dovolani like Maksim did not appear during the first pilot season. He also joined during season 2 and his partner, Stacy Kiebler (now dating Clooney), finished third. Dovolani also finished third with Melissa Rycroft during season 8. He finished fourth with Broadway musical star Marissa Jaret Winokur during season 6. During season 10, he had the dubious honor of partnering with Kate Gosselin who famously made him lose his temper.  This time around Rycroft has really blossomed and they’ve remained a class act throughout.

Derek Hough is the only pro still in the competition who has actually won a mirrorball trophy. The 27-year-old was in the original London West End production of “Footloose: The Musical” as the lead, Ren. He didn’t get to star in the remake, but his sister Julianne did. Hough joined DWTS during Season 5 when he was teamed with actress Jennie Garth for a fourth place finish.  He did much better season 7 when he paired with Brooke Burke for a win. He also won with singer Nicole Scherzinger (season 10) and actress Jennifer Grey (season 11). That’s three wins. He sat out season 12 due to movie commitments. He finished third with actress/talk show host Ricki Lake during season 13. He’s finished fourth three times: Season 5 with Jennie Garth, Season 9 with Playmate Joanna Krupa and Season 14 with Maria Menounos.

This will be Hough’s last season and perhaps that’s why he’s taking so many risks with his choreography or maybe it’s just that gymnast Shawn Johnson makes him want to show off his acrobatic skills as well. Hough’s a year older than Val.

Dovolani is the oldest professional dancer in the finals at 39.

Of the celebrities, former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is the youngest at 20. Monaco is 36. Rycroft is 29. Only Rycroft is married (to Tye Strickland with one child).   Her partner, Dovolani, is also the only professional dancer in the finals who is married. Dovolani has three children, the youngest two (twins) were born during Season 7 when Dovolani was paired with soap opera diva Susan Lucci.

At the end of Monday night the rankings were:

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 60/60
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 59/60
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 57/60

The first round of dances were do-overs. Each couple took a dance they had previously performed and brought the routine back to the ballroom for a better score. Hough and Johnson could have scored better, but refused to change their quickstep routine which featured a lift and also got deduction for not remaining in hold.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 for a samba to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan 
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (9.5,10.0,10.0) for a paso doble to ” Espana Cani“by Erich Kunzel 
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 27/30 (9.0,8.5,9.5) for a quickstep to “Hey Pachuco”by Royal Crown Revue 

The super-sized freestyle added other people, making this more like “America’s Got Talent.” Each group added different people, but the standings remained the same. Johnson and Hough and Rycroft and Dovolani posted perfect scores, but Monaco and Val were only a half-point behind.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 to “I Was Here” by Beyonce with trapeze artists.
  2. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 30/30 to “Carnival de Paris” by Dario G with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Team who had just competed this summer in London (Gabby DouglasMcKayla MaroneyAly RaismanKyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber).
  3. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (10.0,9.5,10.0) to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes with troupe members and a church choir. Monaco did some aerial tissu.

You can still vote on  ABC.com website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

DWTS 15 Week 9: Three perfect scores from three different couples

Last night on “Dancing  with the Stars: All-Stars,” the competition continues despite the absence of sigh-worthy Gilles Marini. How is that possible? Of the five celebrity couples left, three posted perfect scores after performing two dances each.  You can still vote on  ABC.com website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

Last week, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani were almost perfect with only 1 point off of the full 100 points. This week, there was a new leading lady, Shawn Johnson.  She was near perfect with 59/60 points.

This week’s standings are:

  1. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 30.0 + 29.0 = 59/60
  2. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27.5 + 30 = 57.5/60
  3. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 27 + 30 = 57/60
  4. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 25.5 + 28.5 = 54/60
  5. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 27.0 + 27.0 = 54/60

Rycroft and Dovolani were in second, just 2.5 points behind the leaders. If logic has anything to do with it, then the two teams who were tied for the bottom spot with 54/60 should go in Tuesday’s double elimination: Emmitt Smith and his partner Cheryl Burke and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy.

Last week Monaco and Chmerkovskiy were tied for third with Smith and Burke. Of the five remaining couples, Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff had the lowest score last week.

Last week’s standings were:

  1. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 39 + 60 = 99/100
  2. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 38 + 55.5 = 93.5/100
  3. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 36 + 56.5 = 92.5/100
  4. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 34.5 + 58.0 = 92.5/100
  5. Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 33.5 + 58.5 = 92.0/100
  6. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 33 + 58.5= 91.5/100
  7. Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 28 + 51.079.0/100

Of the remaining contestants, only Rycroft hasn’t won the mirrorball trophy. The first set of dances for this week were gimmicky. And that’s not just the style, but the actual dances. When did Bhangra enter the ballroom and which judge really knows anything about it? I blame jazz on that risky routine that Maksim Chmerkovsky did with Erin Andrews. Only one team got a perfect score: Johnson and Hough. But one other team caught everyone’s attention: Val Chmerkovsky. For his surfer flamenco, he stripped down to his Speedo. Try to top that Maksim!

Despite the skin show, Val and Monaco didn’t place well. How can they? Really? What is the relationship between surfing and flamenco and, as in the case of Bhangra, just what do the judges and the pros know about flamenco? At this point, what are the judges really doing to award points.

  1. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 30.0 (10.0,10.0,10.0), “Knight Rider” Bhangra to “Mundian to Bach Ke” by Panjabi MC 
  2. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27.5 (9.0,9.5,9.0), “Caveman” Hustle to “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (not Was) 
  3. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 27 (8.5,9.0,9.5), “Big Top” Jazz to “What You Waiting For” by Gwen Stefani 
  4. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0), “Espionage” Lindy Hop to “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers 
  5. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 25.5 (8.0,9.0,8.5), “Surfer” Flamenco to “Malagueña” by Brian Setzer Orchestra 

The second round of dances were themed on Michael Jackson’s album “Bad.” What could be better than dancing to the Prince of Pop? Johnson and Hough weren’t steamy enough for judge Carrie Ann Inaba who marked them down one point for their lack of emotional effort. It was Rycroft and Dovolani and Ohno and Smirnoff who reached perfection. Ohno seems to be getting used to having his shirt off, or in this case, almost off.

  1. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani:  30 (10.0,10.0,10.0), Argentine Tango to “Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson 
  2. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff:  30 (10.0,10.0,10.0), Rumba to “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson 
  3. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 29.0  (9.0,10.0,10.0), Argentine Tango to “Bad” by Michael Jackson 
  4. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy:  28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5), Rumba to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” by Michael Jackson 
  5. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0), Tango to “Leave Me Alone” by  Michael Jackson.

Dovolani did an amazing set of lifts with smooth transitions despite an injury. What it comes down to is not who deserves to go forward, but who has the better fan base. Smith undoubtedly has a strong fan base and football players have always done well even when they didn’t dance well (remember, Michael Irvin?). But there are two other athletes: Ohno and Johnson. Unfortunately, football is a bigger sport than either short track speed skating or gymnastics. That could mean bad things for Ohno.

The votes should be close so if you want your favorite or favorites to survive, be sure to vote. Tuesday is another double elimination.

You can still vote online through the ABC.com website or by Facebook. Online voting closes at 8 a.m. PST.

The ‘Dralion’ roadshow style in San Diego

“Dralion” is one of my favorite Cirque du Soleil shows and I saw it when it came in under the big tent. Currently, “Dralion” is in San Diego this weekend at Valley View Casino Center for seven performances only. There are only four performances left, two today (Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012) and two tomorrow.

If you missed “Dralion” when it was in Ontario or Long Beach, it’s worth seeing. Some of the carnival atmosphere has been lost without the big top and so has the major merchandising. There is a small booth selling “Dralion” items, but none of the high-priced items that I remember from the initial tour.

Parking at the Casino is pricey: $20. But you can park for free if you’re not running late. There are plenty of ways to avoid high-priced food as well. The area has many fast food restaurants as well as some sit-down chains like the Olive Garden or Chili’s. Chili’s parking lot connects with that of the Casino so you might be able to park and eat and then enjoy the show. I’d call and ask.

Many people parked across the street and found free parking.

The word “Dralion” combines dragon and lion so it’s a port manteau. I love lions and I love dragons, but I also forgot to bring my own dragon. An opportunity wasted for the dragon lady. According to the press notes, “fusing the 3000 year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil, “Dralion” (pronounced “Dra-lee-on”) draws its inspiration from Eastern philosophy and its never-ending quest for harmony between humans and nature. The show’s name is derived from its two emblematic creatures: the dragon, symbolizing the East, and the lion, symbolizing the West.”

I think Africa might have something to say about that. Lions originally were found in Africa and western Europe to India. Wild lions still are found in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. They had disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia. A remnant of the Asian population remains in the Gir Forest National Forest in India and are endangered. But if we think of lions in terms who they appear in royal European emblems and coat of arms as well as C.S. Lewis’ Aslan, I guess we can let this little problem slide.

Again according to the press notes: “In ‘Dralion,’ the four elements that govern the natural order take on a human form. Thus embodied, each element is represented by its own evocative colour: air is blue; water is green; fire is red; earth is ochre. In the world of ‘Dralion,’ cultures blend, Man and Nature are one, and balance is achieved.”

The concept of the elements is western because Asia has five (water, wood, metal, earth, air), but let we’ll let this slide as well. Earth is represented by Gaya the goddess of earth. In her dancer form for “Dralion,” Gaya represents Africa. Oceane (water) is the goddess of water and her dancer is dressed in a green costume of an Indian dancer. Azala is the goddess of air and her dancer is dressed in blue and is more like a European woman with the skirt of her dress supplemented by capri pants. Yao is the guide to the fire demons and has a decidedly Asian look. He’s the only male element.

“Dralion” includes the clowns who open the show which includes aerial hoop, aerial pas de deux, bamboo poles, crossed wheel (or diablo), hand balancing, hoop diving, Chinese yoyo, Dralions, skipping ropes and trampoline. None of these are recommended to be done at home. Even the skipping ropes is spectacular.

My favorite acts were the diablo, the Chinese yoyo, the aerial pas de deux, the aerial hoop and the skipping ropes. The crossed wheel is where a muscular man roles and spins on a contraption made of two-connected thick metal hoops that form a ball which the man can walk through and rolls under his control.

The Chinese yoyo act has an attractive female foursome tossing, catching and trading off yoyos with a slightly hip hop beat.  And while we all know what rope skipping is, I doubt that you’ve ever jumped rope like this.

This scaled down version of “Dralion” is still spectacular. It will surprise you, make you laugh and it always makes me wish I was younger and could run away and join this circus. And the costumes always inspire me to think of designing something beautiful to wear when I dance. Some of the soundtrack is suitable for social dancing such as Argentine tango.

Tickets are available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/dralion, www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

After the last show on this Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, the show moves on to Arizona (Tucson and Phoenix), Kansas (Topeka) and Oklahoma (Oklahoma City).  According to the current tour schedule, the show will then continue on to Africa.

Remaining Show Schedule (November 15-18, 2012):

  • Saturday, November 17 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 18 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

 

Ticket Information:

  • Adults: From $35 to $85
  • Children (12 & under): From $28 to $69
  • Military, Seniors & Students: From $31.50 to $72

‘The Big Bang Theory’ flash mob

How cool!

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