Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stars On Ice 2008 Tour

A full review of the new Stars On Ice tour is coming (as well as more photos) but in the meantime, here are a few shots from last nights stop in Wilkes Barre, PA.

Sasha Cohen- Enchantment

Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto- Falling Slowly

Kyoko Ina & John Zimmerman- death spiral

Kyoko Ina & John Zimmerman- Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Full photo set here.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake'

AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE didn't create dreadful productions of the three full-length Tchaikovsky classics simply by blind obedience to tradition. No, in revising and restaging "Swan Lake," "The Nutcracker" and "The Sleeping Beauty," artistic director Kevin McKenzie worked hard at cluttering the narratives with bizarre new plot twists and special effects, even sometimes messing with the music via resequencing and interpolation.

But Thursday, when his 8-year-old "Swan Lake" returned to Southern California for the start of a five-performance run at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, his greatest crimes (or sins, if you consider the genuine 1895 "Swan Lake" to be holy writ) were those committed against his dancers.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Shimmy Exclusive Interview

Neil Haskell

Photos: Tania Gressell

Shimmy: So what have you been doing these past few months?

Neil Haskell: Well, the (So You Think You Can Dance) tour ended at the beginning of December so I kind of had that month off. Then I went to film a movie for MTV in January and February. It's called The American Mall and filming it was really fun. I've always wanted to crossover into film and television and this project was an excellent chance for me. It's a musical so I was able to combine dance with singing as well. It's a great opportunity and I felt that a musical movie would be the best way for me to break into the film world. It's more natural for me and now I know a lot about that business. It has also opened up a lot of doors and that's really cool. I just got back to New York about two weeks ago and I've been just getting back into the swing of things here. Taking class and auditioning again.

Shimmy: What exactly is your background in dance?

Neil Haskell: Well I grew up in Buffalo, New York and I trained at David Demarie Dance Studio. I also trained at a ballet studio as well. When I was fifteen I started going to summer intensives for ballet and that definitely gave me five or seven weeks of solid training, six days a week. I eventually moved to New York and I did a Broadway show called, "The Times They Are A Changin" and then I did So You Think You Can Dance.

Shimmy: Now that you have had several months to do other things, looking back, how was the whole So You Think You Can Dance experience for you?

Neil Haskell: I realize that the highs from it, all the great things that went on were just so awesome. Everything is so much better than what I thought it was as it was happening. I tried not to get too excited while I was on the show, but now when I look back it was such a great experience to go through and it will be great to look back on years from now. I also realized that the lows really weren't that low. Even though they felt really low as they happened- like being in the bottom three- it hurt that week, but looking back now it was just such an overall positive experience for me. When I was on tour I loved watching everybody perform every single night and seeing them grow. It was an amazing thing to watch us grow not just as dancers, but as people.

Shimmy: Are you still in touch with anyone from the show?

Neil Haskell: I'm not as in touch as I should be right now but I think everybody has been really busy. I'm going to be in Buffalo this weekend and I know that Sara is going to be there with the Avril Lavigne tour so I'm hoping to see her.

I've seen Danny Tidwell a couple of times in the city and I've seen Sabra and Kameron as well. So I've seen a few people that have been in and out of New York. Oh and Dominic decided to call me at 4am once too (laughing).

Shimmy:What inspires your dancing?

Neil Haskell: I guess right now it's really about making my body feel good. When I'm in class doing a jump or turn, somebody else's movement- it just feels so good to be able to do that. I think that's what keeps me dancing.

Shimmy: What choreographers do you love working with?

Neil Haskell: I think Wade Robson's choreography is the most challenging. It's strange and quirky. You have to find a way to learn where your weight, your hip, foot and just everything is supposed to be or else it won't look right. The way he does it is so unique that if you aren't doing it exactly as he's telling you to then it's going to look awkward unique rather than cool unique. I love being able to do his stuff. I also love being able to dance Mia Micheal's stuff because it is more my style. Her jazz and contemporary feel is very unique as well and it suit my body and way of moving.

Shimmy: If you weren't dancing what might you be doing instead?

Neil Haskell: I don't know. I'd probably be singing or acting or doing something where I'm still performing.

Shimmy: What advice do you have for dancers that have yet to make their mark?

Neil Haskell: Keep working as hard as you can. Be in class as often as you can, take extra classes. Watch the other people in class because I think you can learn the most from watching other people, whether they are better than you or not. There is always something that can be learned when somebody else is dancing.

Shimmy: You haven't done a lot of press in the last few months so what would you like to say to your fans at this point?

Neil Haskell: I'm still working and I cannot wait for the MTV movie to come out in August so that people can see what else I can do. Life has been really exciting and who knows what will be coming out next!

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America's Best Dance Crew Season 2 Casting Call

Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew Season 2
America's Best Dance Crew executive-produced by American Idol judge Randy Jackson and the creators of the USA & World Hip Hop Dance Championships.

The search is on for America's Best Dance Crew - Come represent and show us you've got what it takes to beat the best.

You've seen what the 1st season crews had to offer. Do you think you can top JabbaWockeeZ creativity, Status Quo's tricks, and KABA Modern's precision?

If so come and show us your skills and don't fake the funk!

Open Call Cities:

Auditions coming in April 2008. Keep checking back for an audition near you.

Houston TX
Tuesday April 22nd, 2008
Open Call -- 10am
Location TBD
(April 23rd, 2008 -- Callback)

Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday April 29th, 2008
Open Call -- 10am
Location TBD
(April 30th, 2008 -- Callback)

New York, NY
Date coming soon!

More Audition Cities COMING SOON!

More Info!

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Planet B-Boy

In a brief scene in 1983's "Flashdance," the Rock Steady Crew, with its backspins, windmills and freezes, almost diverted attention from Jennifer Beals.

It was a defining moment as the trio — Normski, Mr. Freeze and Frosty Freeze — introduced the world to b-boying on a piece of cardboard.

Flash forward to the 2005 International Battle of the Year in Europe. Breakdancing became a global phenomenon, drawing thousands to see crews from dozens of countries compete. Independent filmmaker Benson Lee explores the progression in his new documentary, "Planet B-Boy."

In the late 1990s, many people thought the dance form was "cheesy or passe" after fading from the spotlight in the United States. But Lee didn't.

"I was watching 'Flashdance' and saw that scene and was like, 'What happened to breakdancing?'" he said at the New York premiere of his film. "I got online and Googled it and discovered this whole world and that this event — called Battle of the Year — had been around since 1990."

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JabbaWockeeZ take it

America's Best Dance Crew wrapped up last night. America voted: The San Diego JabbaWockeeZ beat Boston's Status Quo and took the prize. 38 Million votes were tallied.

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Interview with Jenna from "Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious"

Jason, ( So what made you try out for the show?

Jenna, (Girlicious): I was watching last season when I saw an ad talking about upcoming casting calls. I went online and decided to apply and ended up going to the auditions and making it on the show.

Jason, ( What did you think watching the episode the other night?

Jenna, (Girlicious): I was a little upset when they showed me in the kitchen cooking. They made me look like a fatty but really I was cooking for everyone, not just myself.

Jason, ( Did you end up making any friends while you were on the show?

Jenna, (Girlicious): I became good friends with everyone. In the beginning Charlye and I had some misunderstandings but Charlye and Carrie are probably two of the girls I stay in touch with the most now.

Jason, ( Did you learn a lot while you were on the show?

Jenna, (Girlicious): I received a lot of great advice. Just performing and learning how to dance in a pop group was great.

Jason, ( Do you think the judging was fair? Would you change anything?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Neil Haskell to Perform in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh fraternities and sororities will sponsor their annual “Greek Sing,” at 7 p.m. March 28 at Fitzgerald Field House, Allequippa and Darragh streets, Oakland. Tickets are $10 and available at the door. All proceeds benefit the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Each year, the University’s Greek Community sponsors a series of events to support local charities. The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute is the beneficiary of a five-year commitment from Pitts’s fraternities and sororities, who have set a goal to raise $500,000 to help fund a thoracic and lung cancer research laboratory.

“Greek Sing” highlights the singing and dancing talents of many of Pitt’s fraternity and sorority members. This year’s event will feature Neil Haskell, a former finalist on Fox Television’s “So You Think You Can Dance”. Haskell will be joined by area dance, choreography, and singing professionals to serve as judges for the show.

For more information, contact Peter Hammerle at 215-834-7865 or

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Celebrates Golden Anniversary

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) announced the 18-month commemoration of its 50th anniversary, including events, promotions, collaborations and special performances at The Joan Weill Center for Dance today. The organization also announced plans to celebrate the official anniversary date Sunday, March 30 with faith-based organizations, in honor of the spiritual heritage of founder Alvin Ailey's youth. This legacy remains at the core of the organization and its unique preservation of the African American cultural experience.

The Sunday celebrations will take place in nearly 40 churches and other faith-based organizations across New York City. Festivities include dedicating a portion of the services to honoring the Ailey legacy, with choirs singing spirituals from Alvin Ailey's masterpiece Revelations, and dance ministries performing works inspired by the beauty and humanity of AAADT. Ms. Jamison's hometown church in Philadelphia, as well as Mr. Ailey's childhood church in Rogers, Texas, will also mark the occasion.

"With the spirit and passion of Alvin Ailey in our hearts and a solid foundation for the future in our hands, we are excited to embark on 18 months of celebrations, all honoring Mr. Ailey's dream and the organization's core mission that inspires and unites people of all backgrounds through the universal language of dance," said Artistic Director Judith Jamison.

AAADT also announced that it will enhance its traditional season of performances with special appearances at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and with free performances in all five boroughs of New York City. Details and images were unveiled for special commemorative merchandise with partners such as Hallmark, Mattel, Movado, Chronicle Books and Target. Additionally, the Company shared plans for its annual New York City Center performances and U.S. tour that will include exciting collaborations with noted artists Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Sweet Honey in the Rock.

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Choreographic Initiative to Support New Commissions for ABT II and

Mentoring Workshops for ABT Dancers

In an effort to identify and nurture female choreographers, American Ballet Theatre and Altria Group, Inc. have launched Voices and Visions: The Altria/ABT Women’s Choreography Project. This multi-year project, generously funded by Altria Group, Inc., will include annual commissions by emerging female choreographers, as well as a series of training and mentoring workshops open to female members of ABT and ABT II. The Altria/ABT Women’s Choreography Project was announced today by ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

Altria/ABT Choreography Fellows: An emerging female choreographer will be chosen annually as the Altria/ABT Choreography Fellow to create a new work for ABT II. Under the Altria/ABT Choreography Fellows program, these newly commissioned works, one each year for three years (2008-2010), will be performed in New York City and at ABT II’s tour venues. Under the leadership of Wes Chapman, ABT II, an ensemble of 13 pre-professional dancers, ages 16-20, maintains an extensive touring schedule, performing in smaller venues worldwide and throughout the United States. In addition, ABT II participates in residencies and outreach programs at schools and universities nationwide. To date, nearly 50 members of ABT’s current roster, including some Principals and Soloists, began their careers with ABT II.

Choreographer Aszure Barton is the inaugural Altria/ABT Choreography Fellow for 2008. Barton’s Barbara, the first work produced for the Altria/ABT Women’s

Choreography Project, was created at the White Oak Plantation in Yulee, Florida. Barbara will be given its World Premiere by ABT II on April 17 at the American Dance Institute in Rockville, Maryland and will receive its New York Premiere at The Joyce Theater’s 1.2.3. Festival on May 9.

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Hairspray arrives in Philly


—The New York Times



Tickets On Sale Now!

It’s time to let your hair down and dance the night away! HAIRSPRAY, Broadway’s musical comedy phenomenon that inspired a major motion picture is coming to the Academy of Music May 2 – 4. This fantastically fun musical, winner of eight 2003 Tony Awards including Best Musical, is currently enjoying its 5th year on Broadway. The 2007 West End production of HAIRSPRAY was nominated for a record-breaking 11 Olivier Awards and nabbed four, including the top category Best New Musical, and also won Best New Musical in all of Britain’s other top awards programs, including the Evening Standard, Critic’s Circle, and Whatsonstage Awards.

And now, back by popular demand, the people of Philadelphia will once again be swept away to 1960s Baltimore in this international smash-hit musical, piled bouffant-high with laughter and romance – and enough deliriously tuneful songs to fill a nonstop platter party. It’s HAIRSPRAY, live on stage, in living color!

Part of the Cadillac Broadway Series, tickets ranging in price from $25 to $70 are on sale now. A limited number of premium box seats are available for $100. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-731-3333, online at, at the Kimmel Center box office, Broad & Spruce Streets (open daily 10 am to 6 pm) or at the Academy of Music box office (during performances only). Groups of 15 or more will receive discounts for select performances by calling 215-790-5883 or 866-276-2947. Performances include: Friday and Saturday evenings (May 2 & 3) at 8:00 pm; Sunday evening (May 4) at 6:30 pm; matinees Saturday at 2:00 pm, and Sunday at 1:00 pm.

Everyone is raving about this delightful musical, including the critics. “A great big fat gorgeous hit,” claims Clive Barnes of the New York Post. “A must-see for every teenage dreamer who believes anything is possible,” say Georgina Brown of London’s The Mail on Sunday. “So many numbers bring down the house, it’s a wonder the theater is still standing,” says Jeremy Gerard of New York Magazine.

In HAIRSPRAY it's 1962—the '50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion—to dance. She wins a spot on the local TV dance program, “The Corny Collins Show” and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can a plus-size trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the program's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a television show without denting her 'do? Only in HAIRSPRAY! Welcome to the '60s!

HAIRSPRAY is based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters, who served as a creative consultant on the musical comedy. It features a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. HAIRSPRAY features an original score by Academy Award-nominated Marc Shaiman (who co-wrote the music and lyrics for the acclaimed animated musical, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut) and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. This production of HAIRSPRAY is based on Jack O’Brien’s original direction and Jerry Mitchell’s original choreography, recreated by Matt Lenz and Danny James Austin, respectively. Scenic design is by David Rockwell; the set coordinator is Michael Allen; costume design is by William Ivey Long; lighting design is by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller; the sound is by Shannon Slaton; wig and hair design is by Paul Huntley; and the musical supervisor is Lon Hoyt. HAIRSPRAY is produced by NETworks Presentations.

The 2007-2008 Cadillac Broadway Series marks the first full season of cooperation between Kimmel Center, Inc. and Shubert Organization, Inc., where theatrical presentations in Philadelphia will be presented at the Academy of Music and the Forrest Theatre. In addition to Hairspray, the 2007-2008 season includes: Gypsy (May 9-11); David Copperfield: An Intimate Evening of Grand Illusion (May 16-17); Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple (June 17-July 13); Mamma Mia! (July 15-27); and Monty Python’s SPAMALOT (Aug.14-31).

All performances of the Cadillac Broadway Series are supported by Cadillac, CITI, Target, WPVI-TV 6, The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Cadillac Broadway Series.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shimmy Exclusive Interview

Mark Ballas

Shimmy: How is it working with Kristi Yamaguchi on the
new season of Dancing With The Stars?

Mark Ballas: It is so much fun, Kristi is a pleasure to teach and
work with. She is so determined and focused and I
couldn't ask for more than that.

Shimmy: In skating she is known as a "technician", every step is as perfect as possible. How is she doing on the floor?

Mark Ballas: She is working extremely hard, but enjoying every step
of the way, and I'm really proud of her.

Shimmy: What is the best thing about your partnership
with her?

Mark Ballas: We get along really well, and we have such a great
time in our training sessions, we have similar personalities and the same work ethic.

Shimmy: What inspires you?

Mark Ballas: My family, the support they've given me continuously
pushes me to achieve my dreams.

Shimmy: Who are some of your favorite dancers, teachers &

Mark Ballas: I've trained with so many, but i would have to say the
two teachers I've always looked up to the most are my parents Corky and Shirley Ballas

Shimmy: What dance do you enjoy most of all?

Mark Ballas: I love the jive and the Foxtrot.

Shimmy: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Mark Ballas: I play Lead Guitar and Sing Lead Vocal along side
Derek Hough in my Rock/Blues band called Almost Amy. We are getting ready to start recording our debut
album soon.

Shimmy: Tell me something about yourself that would surprise me.

Mark Ballas: I think people would be surprised to know that I get
shy to dance in clubs.

Shimmy: If you could trade places with anyone (not a
dancer) for one day who would it be and why?

Mark Ballas: John Mayer because his music is so inspiring to me

Shimmy: 3 things you cannot live without?

Mark Ballas: Acoustic Guitar, I pod, Oreo Cookies and milk.

Shimmy: If I borrowed your ipod for an hour what would I

Mark Ballas: Anything and everything, even though I play in a
Blues/Rock/Pop band I have a wide selection of music that I enjoy, so I'm
sure you'd find something you like.
John Mayer
Michael Jackson
Three Days Grace
Eva Cassidy
Buddy Holly
Marvin Gaye

Shimmy: What is the best advice that you could give to
young dancers?

Mark Ballas: Master your craft, never hold back, never back down.
Love your gift and cherish every minute

Shimmy: What would you like to tell your fans?

Mark Ballas: I love you guys more than ever. You're the best.
and I couldn't do what I do with out you.

Photos: Mark Ballas Official Myspace

Shimmy Video Pick

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Phantom Sequel in the Works?

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber announced on his video blog that he will pen a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running musical in Broadway history.

In a taped message, the Tony-winning composer says, “I’ve made a decision today that I will do The Phantom of the Opera sequel. And I have met with a couple people today who have persuaded me to do it, who I will not reveal, but it’s a very exciting day for me. . . It’s going to be very exciting, and I can reveal that it will be set in New York.”

Lloyd Webber had previously written "The Heart Is Slow to Learn," a song for a Phantom sequel. That song was unveiled to the public at the televised London concert celebrating Lloyd Webber's 50th birthday. Kiri Te Kanawa performed the ballad. The composer later dropped the idea of the sequel and chose to collaborate on the musical The Beautiful Game.

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Rent Extended

Due to ticket demand, Rent will not close on Broadway June 1, but will play to Sept. 7, the producers announced March 26.

Those who rushed out to buy tickets to Rent in anticipation of its announced closing have an option to attend later performances at the Nederlander Theatre. The final performance is now 6:30 PM Sept. 7. indicates that tickets are on public sale to Sept. 4.

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2 Stars Are finished Dancing

There’s something about “The Gutte” that everyone loves. The other dancers have been known to chant “Gutte…Gutte…Gutte…” backstage as the actor comes and goes. Samantha asks around and it seems The Gutte is apparently a regular ray of sunshine. “He loves life,” Jason says. Mario adds that he hopes to see The Gutte make it to the finals (now that’s some sportsmanship right there!).

But while Steve & Anna are safe, someone is not. And that someone is Penn, who, along with partner Kim, is out. Penn stages a protest, saying, “We are not giving up!…There’s no way my dance career ends now!”

“He’s just been so much fun,” Kim says about her partner.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dancing With The Stars: Week 2

It’s the first chance for all 12 contestants to dance together tonight, on Mambo and Quickstep Night!

First up are Steve & Ann, dancing the mambo. During rehearsal, Anna, who worries that she’s too hard on Steve, brings in her mother — Irina Trebunskaya — for help. Steve works up “a little bit of rhythm and a little bit of love,” calling it a “Macho Mambo Combo.” But the judges aren’t feeling the love. Len compares Steve’s dancing to his own cooking skills (can you say “spotted dick” on TV?!), and says Steve’s dance “just didn’t really work.” Bruno complains that Steve put all of his energy into facial expressions and forgot his body. Carrie Ann says, “It wasn’t your best, but you guys look cute.” They score a 16, bringing their overall score to a 34 out of 60.

Next up are Cristian & Cheryl, dancing a quickstep. In rehearsal, Cheryl brings in a military uniform to help Cristian concentrate on posture. Carrie Ann calls Cristian “a whole new person.” Len says the dance “had a little bit of wildness about it.” Bruno says he liked the gangster persona and calls the performance “good.” Cristian & Cheryl score a 20, giving them a combined score of 41 out of 60.

Next to take the stage is Monica, with her partner, Jonathan. The couple is planning to dance a mambo, and Monica worries about her lack of ability to put on a sexy facial expression. Monica has to travel to Japan for a prior engagement, and drags Jonathan along with her, so they can practice long into the night. Bruno criticizes that Monica “didn’t connect with the music.” Len says, “You tried your hardest but there are so many technical problems at the moment.” Carrie Ann, Monica’s sole trumpeter, says, “You came out and you attacked it!” Monica & Jonathan score a 15, bringing their total to 30 out of 60.

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Akram Khan's Journey

A multitude of influences and wide-ranging interests come together in the work of the intrepid and acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan, who brings two works to New York City Center beginning April 23.

After establishing himself as a major force on the British dance scene in his mid-twenties, his work was first seen in New York in 2001--most recently in collaboration with Steve Reich marking the seminal composer's 70th birthday in 2006.

His own strong presence as a performer--a fluent, inventive blending of Kathak, the South Indian dance style that was his earliest training, with the contemporary modern dance he studied later--has been a major part of each of the works seen this side of the Atlantic. But next month, New York City Center will present his newest work, bahok, the first major group work he has created in several years, and his first piece choreography in which he will not perform--a distinction that, he admits, "feels really strange and bizarre."

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'Consumed' explores the life of a dancer

Tonya Lockyer describes her new solo dance theater performance "Consumed" as a "love letter." If so, it's a letter about deep, redemptive love -- the kind of love that still simmers and ignites with betrayals and disappointments. Lockyer invites her audience into a beautiful bricolage of dance history, cultural inquiry and her own intimate stories that span 20 years of professional dance.

The way she captures that epiphany in one subtle and elegant gesture is part of what makes her dancing and storytelling powerful. She opens portals into the unconscious for her audience to step through. She invites everyone to accompany her onto a terraced ledge in a Turkish desert, or along the haunted walkways of the Aurora Bridge.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Wilson Leaves Skating

At a time when figure skating needs all the help it can get to restore flagging popularity, it will be without a man who made the sport a captivating show.

Whether capturing the golden moment that is his most vivid memory, Brian Boitano’s 1988 Olympic triumph, or making the best of competitions tarnished by the dross the sport has produced in the past several years, Doug Wilson managed to convey the beauty, difficulty and passion of skating to TV audiences for nearly half a century.

The Wilson era ended Sunday, when he directed the exhibition telecast from the World Figure Skating Championships for ESPN/ABC. After 50 years of work for ABC, in which he directed or produced 40 different sports, Wilson has promised his wife this is the finale, even if NBC were to come calling for help with its coverage of U.S. skating and the 2010 Olympics.

Speaking from Sweden, where he also directed the women’s and dance competitions, Wilson, 72, was quick to credit all the others who helped him, especially the people behind cameras who provided the memorable shots from which he chose.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mens Champion Crowned

In a free skate where one top contender fell completely apart and two others had repeated flaws, Johnny Weir's conservative but nearly error-free skating won the bronze medal Saturday at the World Figure Skating Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Jeffrey Buttle, rebounding from two subpar seasons and a defeat in the Canadian Championships. became the first Canadian man to win the title since Elvis Stojko in 1997.

Buttle won the free skate as easily as he had won the short program and was the only man to do two outstanding programs.

France's Brian Joubert, the 2007 champion, rallied from sixth in the short program to take the silver.

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Bare facts of burlesque

Bumping and grinding have always been money-making moves, a point demonstrated this weekend at the second annual Greater Boston Burlesque Exposition.

The three-day event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cambridge includes a costume gallery and hours of dance lessons.

“Most of last year’s attendees are back and they’ve brought a bunch of new people,” said the event organizer, who goes by the name Scratch.

Burlesque, the raunchier cousin of vaudeville, was popular during the first half of the 20th century. The dance form, which showcased more tease than strip, has recently shimmied back into popular culture.

Lily Trajman, 29, a belly dancer from Cambridge, spent six hours at the expo and attended Friday night’s strip show, which included burlesque legends Satan’s Angel, Dusty Summers and April March. Trajman took the classes “Bumps, Grinds and Shimmies” and “Accessor-Tease! Integrating Props into Burlesque Performance.”

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Interview with Jamie of Girlicious

Jason, ( So what made you try out for the show?

Jamie, (Girlicious): I heard about the auditions in Miami. So I ended up trying out and eventually on the show.

Jason, ( What was your favorite experience on the show?

Jamie, (Girlicious): I loved the girls and learned a lot from them.

Jason, ( What was your worst time on the show?

Jamie, (Girlicious): I would say probably my hair. I hated it when they changed it.

Jason, ( Did you end up making any friends while you were on the show?

Jamie, (Girlicious): Charlye and Ilisa was a great singer and dancer.

Jason, ( How was it living with all of the girls? A lot of drama?

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Friday, March 21, 2008

2008 Ice Dance Final Results Are In

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France won gold with 212.94 total points and Canada's champions earned 208.80. Jana KIhokhlova and Sergei Novitski of Russia won bronze with 203.26, edging U.S. champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto by 26-100ths of a point.

It was the first time since 1975 that all three couples on the world ice dancing podium were there for the first time.

Virtue and Moir were third after the original dance but won the free dance with their delicately romantic and demanding "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" routine that had the hundreds of Canadians among the 9,500 who filled the Scandinavium jumping to their feet and waving Canadian flags when it ended. Virtue and Moir knew they'd nailed it when they saw their marks pop up.

"This was a goal of ours but to see it become a reality on the screen . . . it was just awesome," said Virtue.

Virtue, 18, and Moir, 20, are among the youngest skaters ever to step onto the world ice dancing podium. She was only seven and he was only nine when they began skating together. They won the world junior title two years ago and were sixth at the senior level last year.

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Brilliant short program for Weir but Buttle Leads

Canadian Jeffrey Buttle won the men's short program at the world figure skating championships on Friday.

In a confident performance to Astor Piazzolla's Adios Nonino, Buttle took a surprise lead going into Saturday's final as several of the favorites, including defending champion Brian Joubert, made crucial mistakes.

Buttle, second in this year's Four Continents competition and bronze medalist at the Turin Olympics, scored the highest technical mark to end on 82.10 points, comfortably ahead of American Johnny Weir in second on 80.79 points.

Weir, coached by 1992 Olympic champion Viktor Petrenko and Galina Zmievskaia, turned in a near-faultless skate. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi was third on 80.40 points after a jump error.

Frenchman Joubert fell on his triple lutz and eked out just 77.75 points to stand sixth after a two-point deduction. An ISU official said France was appealing one of the deduction points, which was for the use of music with vocals.

Buttle said he felt "comfortable and confident" on the ice as he executed a clean short program.

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Skating's fade to black

I have been watching the World Figure Skating Championships from Sweden live on my computer.

On a Turkish TV channel that is part sports, part C-Span, showing the country's parliament when the lawmakers are in session.

From the postings on skating news groups, others have been watching live on Internet streams from a variety of countries, including South Korea, China, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.

All this is free -- except the usurious monthly fees charged by Internet service providers, that is.

This availability of live coverage makes skating fans winners, but it makes the sport they care about a loser.

Why would a TV network want to pay anything but two plugged nickels for exclusive territorial rights to an event where the territorial exclusivity of the telecast is compromised?

That is among the reasons why ESPN threatened to break its four-year contract with the International Skating Union after one year when it learned the 2005 Moscow worlds were being streamed live into the United States. That meant many of the people who might watch ESPN's delayed coverage already had seen the event and felt less compelled to tune in.

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Mariinsky Theater Ballet Festival

This year’s Mariinsky Theater Ballet Festival, running through Sunday, has proved very meager indeed compared with the rich and diverse fare offered by the seven previous festivals.

Six of the ten performances are “Swan Lake.”

This would be understandable for an overseas tour due to limited rehearsal time. But surely in its home theater, the Mariinsky Ballet should be more than capable of presenting a different program almost every night, as in previous years.

This safe and predictable programming is justifiable if the Mariinsky can still dance this Petipa 1895 classic “Swan Lake” with all its legendary greatness. But can it?

After the first two performances last weekend, the answer is yes and no. Yes, the Mariinsky’s corps de ballet is still the greatest in the world and surpasses any other ballet company’s in terms of upper-body uniformity. But it must be mentioned that the Mariinsky corps was greater still a decade or two ago, and the present one cannot yet attain that peak. And yes, the Mariinsky’s character dancers are still unsurpassed in the national dances of Act III. But then again, there was even more grandeur and stylishness in these national dances in the past.

The choreographic text of this 1950 Konstantin Sergeyev production is not as authentic as the London Royal Ballet’s current 1986 production by Anthony Dowell.

Still, any production of “Swan Lake” needs to be illuminated by a true classical ballerina, such as the Mariinsky star Diana Vishneva, much acclaimed in New York lately, who danced the opening “Swan Lake.” Vishneva, a supremely musical dancer, danced the white swan duet immaculately as if in one long phrase. Vishneva’s pure and pellucid dancing achieved a rare state of sanctity, as if bestowing a spiritual blessing. Her sublime performance in this “white” act was a revelation. Her black swan was also gloriously danced. Igor Kolb strongly partnered Vishneva and gave a performance full of dramatic depth and virtuosic power.

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Kaba Modern is out on Dance Crew

After making it to the top three groups battling it out on MTV for the title of "America's Best Dance Crew" and a $100,000 cash prize, UC Irvine's Kaba Modern was eliminated on Thursday's episode.

At the start of the show, it was down to Boston's Status Quo group and two crews from Southern California – Kaba Modern and San Diego's JabbaWockeeZ. Status Quo emerged as the viewer favorite, managing to nab the most number of votes to keep them safe in the competition.

That left Kaba Modern's six dancers – Mike Song, Jia Huang, Lawrence Kao, Cindy Minowa, Tony Tran and Yuri Tag – to square off with JabbaWockeeZ's crew of masked and gloved dancers.

The theme of Thursday's episode was paying homage to classic hip-hop dance moves. JabbaWockeeZ churned out a frenetic breakdance routine that landed them a roaring standing ovation from the audience.

Kaba Modern showed off what's become their trademark: Precise, intricate choreography with a few funky twists and fluid flair.

"I love their attention to detail," said former N'Sync member J.C. Chasez, one of three judges on the show. "To move like that takes a lot of discipline and I just love their personalities on the dance floor, they're so enthusiastic."

The audience, made up of mostly JabbaWockeeZ and Kaba Modern fans, began chanting: "Keep them both! Keep them both!"

In the end, the judges voted to send Kaba Modern home, even though various blogs and YouTube comments were teeming with fans anticipating a finale with only the two West Coast crews.

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Asada is Golden

Mao Asada’s opening move was heart-stopping — and not in a good way.
As she went to take off for a triple axel, a jump so hard few women even try it, she slipped and slid across the ice.
“I was surprised myself,” Asada said.
But the two-time Japanese champion rebounded with a huge triple flip-triple toe loop combination, righting her long-program fortunes and capturing the gold medal at the World Figure Skating Championships on Thursday. She finished with 185.56 points, winning by almost a point.
“I learned that I still can make up for the mistake if the other elements are good,” Asada said. “Never give up. That’s what I learned this year.”
Two-time European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy won the silver (184.68 points) and South Korea’s Kim Yu-na finished third (183.23).
Asada’s was by far the most spectacular fall of the evening, with the crowd of 9,431 groaning in unison. But it was not the only one.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Great Boston Burlesque Expo

It wasn’t too long ago when a Burlesque show was something people would sneak into to catch some flesh and some naughty humor. Fast forward to today where something as simple as a burlesque show put on by a few friends in a small club has turned into platinum-selling record, inspiration for haute couture and the launch of a girl from Michigan into a pop culture icon.

Granted the lines have been skewed a little, but the inspiration is there. Look at the lines by designers from Jean-Paul Gaultier, and you can see how he caters to the female form showing all of their curves; something many designers have tried to hide in the past. Gaultier is doing whatever is can to make sure women show them off.

Dita Von Teese has gone from some burlesque performer/ Marilyn Manson’s ex wife to style icon. MAC cosmetics have her as one of their spokeswomen for their Viva Glam series, she’s always in the front row of all of the fashion shows and Dita can be found on many a best dressed list. Almost everyone out there seems to know Ms. Von Teese and there are the lucky few who’ve seen her perform. Who knew a little black hair dye could do so much?

And whether most people want to admit it or not, The Pussycat Dolls started off as a small burlesque show in 1995 and turned into a million dollar money making machine spawning a platinum selling record, a club in Vegas and now a clothing line designed by Doll’s creator, Robin Antin.

This weekend you can see how it at all started and learn how to shake your money maker at The Greater Boston Burlesque Expo and Vintage Fashion Far in Cambridge this weekend. During the Fashion fair, you’ll be able to purchase clothing and accessories so you can get ready for your first performance and attend the costume exhibition to see pieces from the past and present performers. Designer Kirsa Miller who’s working with the expo told Bostonist what she’s looking forward to and what fashion fans can expect at the fair.

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Standings after the Original Dance

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France won the original dance at the World Figure Skating Championships on Thursday, widening their lead to a comfortable four points.

Delobel and Schoenfelder have 107.98 points going into Friday's free dance.

Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski of Russia are now second, passing Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada in the original dance. But the margin between the couples is slim, with the Russians just .45 points ahead: 103.97 to 103.52.

Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto entered the worlds favored to become the first U.S. couple to win a world dance title. But a rare fall in compulsories dropped them to fifth place and, despite finishing fourth in the original dance, they weren't able to make up any ground in the standings.

"This is the first time we've gone in hearing that perhaps we were one of the favorites for a title. That's a lot of pressure to carry," Belbin said. "I think I just had to put that out of my mind and realize that we can still gain a lot from this event -- good or bad."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press


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Shimmy Exclusive Interview

Sabra Johnson

Photos: Tania Gressell

Shimmy: How has life changed for you after doing SYTYCD?

Sabra Johnson: My life has changed drastically! I'm so lucky because I get to dance all the time and not have to worry about not being able to afford it. I get to travel and teach and meet dancers from all over, and just share what we do together.

Shimmy: The best thing about being on SYTYCD was_________________.

Sabra Johnson: The best thing was the challenge.

Shimmy: What have you been doing these past few months?

Sabra Johnson: I do a convention on the weekends and travel all the time. I teach at different studios occasionally and pretty soon I'm going to start auditioning. I think I spend most of my time on airplanes.

Shimmy: Tell us about NYCDA.

Sabra Johnson: NYCDA is an amazing convention. I have a lot of respect for it and it's morals. The teachers and people are wonderful. I am an assistant so I get to take all the classes and basically learn just like everybody else. I couldn't ask for a better weekend 'job'.

Shimmy: What is your dream role?

Sabra Johnson: My dream role? I'm going to have to say any part in Chicago.

Shimmy: Is there any different dance genre that you'd love to try?

Sabra Johnson: I would love to be able to do Argentine Tango.

Shimmy: What inspires you to dance?

Sabra Johnson: Anybody I see that loves what they do and really is able to project that through all types of movement.

Shimmy: What dancers give you chills?

Sabra Johnson: Jaimie Goodwin, Roderick George, Danny Tidwell, Jillian Meyers, Tony Testa and plenty of other insane people that I don't even know.

Shimmy: Do you have any rituals before performing?

Sabra Johnson: No, I'm to nervous to actually do anything

Shimmy: If you had to trade places with one person for 24 hours who would it be?

Sabra Johnson: Dane Cook or Ellen Degeneres. I want to know what it's like to be that funny

Shimmy: 3 things you cannot live without.

Sabra Johnson: Chapstick, dessert, music

Shimmy: What is on your ipod?

Sabra Johnson: Snow Patrol, Natasha Beddingfield, Ben Harper, Lauryn Hill, and Hanson.

Shimmy: If in 10 years you are not dancing, what might you be doing instead?

Sabra Johnson: I will probably be do something else artistic or be a beach bum.

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World Pair Skating Champs Crowned

Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy rallied from a spectacular joint fall to score the top mark in the free skate and win the pairs event at the figure skating world championships on Wednesday.

The European champions, who trailed China's Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang after Tuesday's short programme, both took a tumble in their side-by-side triple Salchow early on in the free skate routine, but the pair regained their composure to triumph.

"Tonight, I don't know what to say, I'm so happy," Szolkowy told reporters. "It was a hard way to get here and make a performance like this. It wasn't perfect, but in the end it was enough."

The pair paid tribute to the enthusiastic crowd.

"A really big thanks to audience. We've had so much fun skating here. I think the last two points were because of you," Salkowy added.

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2008 World Figure Skating Championships TV Schedule

World Figure Skating Championships
Thursday, March 20th 7:30pm-11:00pm (EST) ESPN
(Pairs Short+Long, Ice Dance Original Dance)

Friday, March 21st 7:30pm-11:00pm (EST) ESPN
(Ladies Short, Ice Dance Free Dance)

Saturday, March 22nd 3:00pm-6:00pm (EST) ABC
(Ladies Long, Mens Short)

Saturday, March 22nd 6:30pm-8:00pm (EST) ESPN2
(Ladies Short, Ice Dance Free Dance)
This broadcast may be delayed if the preceding basketball game runs overtime.

Sunday, March 23rd 4:30pm-7:00pm (EST) ESPN
(Mens Long)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Cirque Performances Added

Final block of tickets on sale in PHILADELPHIA

19 performances added

KOOZA will perform under the Grand Chapiteau

May 8 - June 15 only!

Philadelphia, March 18, 2008 -- Due to unprecedented demand for tickets, Cirque du Soleil has added the final 19 performances to the Philadelphia engagement of KOOZA before the show premieres on May 8. The final KOOZA performance in Philadelphia will be June 15, 2008.

KOOZA tickets for these final performances (June 3-15) will be available to the general public starting Sunday, March 23, 2008. They are currently available to Cirque Club members only. Membership in the Cirque Club is free and registration is quick and simple at

KOOZA will premiere in Philadelphia on May 8, 2008 under the blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau on the Avenue of the Arts (at Broad and Washington). Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 1 800-678-5440.

KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor. Between strength and fragility, laughter and smiles, turmoil and harmony, KOOZA explores themes of identity, recognition and power. The show is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

Performance Schedule
· Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m.
· Thursdays thru Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
· Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
· No performances on Mondays.
There will be no 4pm performances on May 8, 9 and 15

Ticket Prices (taxes Included)
· $50–$85 for adults

· $35–$59.50 for children (ages 2-12)

· $45–$76.50 for seniors (65+) and students (13+) - Tuesday to Thursday, and Friday at 4pm.

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Dancing With The Stars- The Women

You choose which awe-inspiring line to sum up the women's fairly solid week 1 performances on tonight's Dancing With the Stars. In the immortal teleprompted words of Samantha Harris, ''It's ladies' night and the feeling's right!'' Ugh. In the single word that Priscilla Presley mouthed during the group pan for the second night running, ''Woo.'' Eh. I'm going with ''Woo.'' It says everything and yet nothing at all. Let's make it our new DWTS mantra. Note: ''Woo'' is best imagined if Priscilla is wearing Sabrina Bryan's hideous purple paso doble frock, as she was in Tuesday night's intro package. (Really? Out of all the costumes? That one?)

Tuesday night offered us some hints of potential season 6 male-female doppelgängers. There are the front-runners with lots of choreographic experience (Kristi Yamaguchi and Mario). The ones who still can't believe they're on their all-time favorite show! (Marissa Jaret Winokur and the Gute). The ones who didn't live up to expectations but are pretty and show promise (Shannon and Cristián). Nobody wants a complete sentence comparing Adam Carolla to Monica Seles, so enough of that nonsense, and let's get to the ladies…

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Chinese Lead Pairs

Goteborg, Sweden (Sports Network) - The Chinese duo of Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao have taken the lead after the short program of the pairs competition at the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships.

The two had a score of 74.36 points, which was ahead of the German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (72.00) and the Russian duo of Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov (71.42).

Canadians were next in fourth with Bryce Davison and Jessica Dube (68.66) occupying the spot.

Zhang Hao and Zhang Dan were fifth in last year's worlds and second in 2006, but are on track to give China three straight gold medals at the event. The Chinese have traditionally dominated pairs, winning seven of a possible 12 medals over the last four competitions.

The top American team is Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, who are in 10th place with 53.83 points. The pair of Benjamin Okolski and Brooke Castile holds 12th place with 49.59 points.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

French Lead After Compulsories

Oteborg, Sweden (Sports Network) - France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder are in the top spot after the compulsory dance round at the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships Tuesday.

The French pair finished with 40.73 points, more than two points clear of Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and over five points ahead of Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, who are in fifth place after a rare fall.

The Russian duo of Jana Kokhlova and Sergei Novitski is in third place, while Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali are fourth.

Belbin and Agosto, the reigning Olympic silver medalists, were the odds on favorite to win the dance crown after European champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin withdrew.

But, while skating to the Argentine tango, Belbin stumbled while attempting a twizzle. Falls in compulsories are very rare, and the Argentine tango is considered an easier dance.

Belbin and Agosto suffered a mandatory one-point deduction and finished with a score of 35.02.


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U.S. Ice Dancers Tumble During Compulsories

It's always a shock when ice dancers pratfall in elite competition.

But it was staggering to watch gold medal contenders from the United States do it - in the A-B-C, pro-forma compulsory dance segment of the event, at the World Championships.

Tanith Belbin, the 23-year-old beauty from Kingston, Ont. who received dual citizenship in order to represent America in international figure skating, took a gasp-inducing tumble in the opening phase of the dance-off here this morning and was ashen about it afterwards - even through the heavy layers of stage makeup.

"It's just a freak accident,'' she said, feathers trembling slightly on her head. "It's never happened (even) in practice. I wasn't nervous. It just sucks that it had to happen at worlds.''

Partner Benjamin Agosto stood mutely aside as the female half of this polished tandem tried to explain what had gone so horribly wrong.

The couple was just coming round a corner of the rink, actually slightly off pattern in the mandated Argentine Tango, when Belbin's trailing foot simply caught the ice badly and it was arse over teakettle.

"It's weird that falls happen in compulsories, period,'' she acknowledged. "And then to happen in a place where it's never happened before, it did catch me off guard.

"I'm really bummed out right now.''

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Shimmy Exclusive Interview

Mandy Moore

Shimmy: Tell us a bit about your background.

Mandy Moore: I grew up in Colorado and danced at the local studio, Summit School of Dance, from 8 years old to when I graduated. I took ballet, tap, modern, jazz and was a small town, but we had some great teachers at the studio. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 18 and auditioned for Edge Scholarship. I actually didn't make the program, but I ended up working at the studio for class. I eventually ended up selling merchandise for LA Danceforce, a dance convention that the owners of Edge also owned. After a year of that, I knew that my talents would be better used in the classroom, so I started teaching for them and that led to teaching at Edge, meeting more people and the history.

Shimmy: What inspires you?

Mandy Moore: Everyday life inspires me...people fascinate me. I really like to people watch and I find that most of my idea's for choreography come from my observations. I love music, so I have to say that also inspires me. I love experiencing something great, be it a great performance, a great dinner, a great conversation, a great moment...the feeling I get after experiencing that, inspires me.

Shimmy: What are "dream roles" for you?

Mandy Moore: Dream roles for me are anything that challenges me to be better at my craft. I dance, teach and choreograph, so there are many "roles" to play. I really enjoy being in a situation that I don't know much about and trying to take in and learn from everyone involved with it.

Shimmy: SYTYCD has brought you and your work to the masses, will you return for season four?

Mandy Moore: I will be returning to SYTYCD for Season 4, in fact I was just speaking with the producers the other day and we were talking about what episodes I will be working on.

Shimmy: What contestants from the show did you enjoy working with the most and why?

Mandy Moore: Well, I was lucky, I got to work with Sabra twice!! She is great and works so hard, I love dancers that put in the work. I also loved Dominic, he had never really done contemporary when I worked with him and he came in with an open mind and heart and ended up being very successful.

Shimmy: The JUMP Convention- tell us about it.

Mandy Moore: JUMP is a dance convention that travels around the country and puts on workshop/competition for local dance studios. JUMP is so much fun to work on, we have a live band that plays in the classes, live camera feeds to huge screens for the dancers to see better, an all-star faculty, and tons of special classes and events all geared toward an amazing experience for any dancer that attends. I travel to twenty-some cities with them and it is one of the most fulfilling things I do.

Shimmy: You've dabbled in so many areas, what do you enjoy most of all?

Mandy Moore: I have to say that I have been very lucky to have been so successful in many areas... after all that I have done so far, I love dancing in class the most!!! I know that sounds crazy, but training and dancing in class is the best way I have found to keep in touch with the reason I started dancing, because I love it.

Shimmy: What projects do you have in the works or planned for the future?

Mandy Moore: I always have lots to do. Right now I am choreographing all the group songs for American Idol and will start SYTYCD in a couple months. I have JUMP Nationals at the Kodak Theater in July and will also be traveling to Italy to teach that same month. In August, I will be co-hosting an event with Nick Lazzarini, called "The Nick and Mandy Show." The event is a week of classes, workshops, and rehearsals ending with a show at a theater in Los Angeles. Next December, I am choreographing the Orange Bowl half-time show in Miami.

Shimmy: If I swiped your ipod for an hour, what would I be listening to?

Mandy Moore: I love Ani Difranco, so you are bound to listen to a song or two of hers...I just found William Fitzsimmons and Jon Foreman, acoustic and beautiful...a little Dane Cook, he is ridiculous...and you are sure to run across any good 80's song, most likely a big hair rock love ballad, I love em....

Shimmy: Three things you cannot live without.

Mandy Moore: Lip gloss, DKNY bedding and my Dad's apple pie

Shimmy: If you could switch places with anyone (not in the dance world) for 24
hours who would it be?

Mandy Moore: I would like to switch places with my grandmother, Betty. I can't imagine all that she has experienced in her life, it would be amazing to see the world and all it is presently through her eyes.

Shimmy: What advice would you give to aspiring dancers?

Mandy Moore: My advice to aspiring dancers is to make sure you love it, cause there are so many "No's" along the way and if you truly love to dance, the "No's" won't seem so rough.

Shimmy Video Pick- Neil Haskell and Sabra Johnson table dance choreographed by Mandy Moore.

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Dancing With The Stars Recap

For the Dancing with the Stars 6 premiere, the professional dancers opened the show with a group dance. After introducing all the dance couples for the season, host Tom Bergeron revealed that the six male celebrities and their professional dance partners would be performing tonight.

Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson danced the Cha-Cha-Cha. Len Goodman said, “I thought you captured the flavor of the Cha-Cha-Cha.” Bruno Tonioli said, “It was like watching a trailer for Shrek goes Cha-Cha-Cha.” Carrie Ann Inaba said, “Penn, I think that you’ve got great energy.” Penn & Kym received a score of 16 out of 30 points.

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska danced the Fox Trot. Len Goodman said, “You’ve got great posture, you moved across the floor well, you’re elegant, now you’ve just got to try to act the dance a little bit.” Carrie Ann Inaba said, “You’re really coordinated. You’re very fluid when you dance.” Bruno Tonioli said, “You’ve got to be the most graceful tackler I’ve ever seen.” Jason & Edyta received a score of 22 out of 30 points.

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke danced the Cha-Cha-Cha. Carrie Ann Inaba said, “You’re well-suited to the Cha-Cha.” Bruno Tonioli said, “She banged. You have to bang as hard as she does.” Len Goodman said, “That was a dance of two halves, Cristian. From your hips down was fine, it’s all up here, your arms and your posture, work on it for next week.” Cristian & Cheryl received a score of 21 out of 30 points.

Adam Carolla & Julianne Hough danced the Fox Trot. Bruno Tonioli said, “Adam, if the Fox Trot was an actor, imagine George Clooney, suave, sophisticated, elegant. What you did was Will Ferrell with a bit of John Cleese thrown into it.” Len Goodman said, “Julianne, you’ve got your work cut out this season.” Carrie Ann Inaba said, “Keep working.” Adam & Julianne received a score of 15 out of 30 points.

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Baryshnikov Talks Photography

He may not be gracing the stage quite so often these days, but ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov has remained an ever-present artistic force; look around town, and you’ll see his mark on everything from cultural venues (the impressive Baryshnikov Arts Center) to new modern dance (his young Hell’s Kitchen Dance troupe) to theater (in last year’s acclaimed Beckett Shorts) to worshipful artistic homages — his mostly naked body is depicted, Apollo-like, by Robert Wilson, in the lobby of BAM. His latest project, a photo exhibition at Mark Seliger’s 401 Projects, showcases the results of two years of following around the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and capturing their movements on digital film. Misha (and, to our delight and surprise, Cunningham himself!) took a break from the opening-night festivities to talk to Vulture.
You’ve been photographing for decades, but never dancers. Why this, now?
I was experimenting. I wanted to really take certain moments that the audience during the performance may not necessarily appreciate, maybe some emotional moments, some romantic moments that I see, and sometimes I feel the audience doesn’t. I know that sometimes they feel, “He [Merce] is so formal and so detached and not emotional,” but I think it’s actually quite the opposite. That’s what I was trying to show in my work.

Why had you never focused on dance photography before?
I never liked dance photography; it’s very flat, and dance photography in the studio looks very contrived. Very few photographers really know how to … it’s just a page in the book. It was not that I hated it, but I didn’t feel it was necessary compared with the real thing. But there were a few photographers — Brodovitch, Himmel, Ilse Bing, Irving Penn — who made me feel it was possible. I wanted the audience to see, to be able to imagine, the movement before and after, not just the frozen moment.

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Big Boi Dance With Atlanta Ballet

Staged at Atlanta's historic Fox Theatre, the unprecedented collaboration between Atlanta Ballet and Big Boi, marks the first time hip-hop and ballet have been combined on this level. Fusing Big Boi's own sound of music with Atlanta's professional ballet, the show will feature new and never heard material intertwined with the classical masterpiece of Verdi's La Traviata.

"big is the place, the event, and the experience where we leave our inhibitions at the door, and move forward," explained choreographer Lauri Stalling in a statement. "big is an example of possibilities...a place for the senses to open, and be lifted, setting a new height for creativity and awareness towards ourselves and the people sitting right next to us."

The show will feature music from the multi-platinum rapper's most popular cuts like, "Morris Brown" from the Idlewild Soundtrack, "Church" from the 2003 Grammy Album of the Year, Speakerboxx and "Bombs Over Baghdad" from Stankonia. Along with Jazz and opera selections, former Purple Ribbon members Janelle Monae, Sleepy Brown and Konkrete music will make up the score for the show.

Benefiting the Big Boi's foundation the Big Kidz Foundation and the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education, there will be a fundraiser on April 10, 2008 hosted by Big Boi and Queen Latifah, immediately following the show.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Ballroom Skater

Kristi Yamaguchi already owns an Olympic gold medal. Now she has her sights set on a big, gaudy disco-ball trophy.

Q One would think a figure skater, who performs to music and has worked with choreography, would have a leg up on some of the competition. Do you agree?

A Oh, no, this is a whole different world! In skating, it's all about gliding across a smooth sheet of ice. You sort of flow through the music and only highlight the big crescendos. In dancing, you have to concentrate on the position of your legs and feet on every beat and every count of the music. It's definitely not easy for me.

Q What have your workouts been like so far?

A The first week we started off at two hours a day, but after that we kicked it up to four to six hours a day. My hips have been killing me! I never used to understand it when older people complained about their achy hips. Now I do.

Q All skaters are used to taking falls on the ice. Have you had any scary mishaps on the dance floor yet?

A I've had a couple of tumbles, sure. And you know that's exactly what they'll show on TV to 20 million viewers. They have the cameras there all the time. It's very intimidating.

Q They also tend to show the squabbles between the celebrity and the pro. How have you and Mark been getting along?

A Mark laughs more than he yells. He's an amazing teacher, and he's very patient with me. He's really good about saying things over and over. It's a great deal of work, but he's making it fun.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Canadians Hoping for A Medal

The door to the world figure skating podium has swung open for Canadian ice dancing champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Patrick Chan and Jeff Buttle can only win men's singles medals if others falter, Joannie Rochette's chances in women's singles are remote, and Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison have an outside shot in pairs. But it is with Virtue and Moir that Canada's best chances rest when competition begins Tuesday in Goteborg, Sweden.

The withdrawal of Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, who has reinjured the left knee he had surgery on in December, should allow Canada's champions to reach the podium - not that they are happy about Shabalin's misfortune.

"It's too bad," says Moir. "It's nice to go to a world championship when everybody is healthy and you can compete against the best.

"At the same time, we're excited about the opportunity that lies ahead of us."

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Adult Figure Skating Championships Slated

Fifteen years ago, figure skaters over the age of 21 were out of luck as far as competitions go. Deemed too old to compete on any other circuit, organizers with the U.S. Figure Skating Program Development Committee got together to plan the first ever U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, which were held a year later in Wilmington, Delaware in 1995.

In its first year, 421 skaters showed up for the four-day event — only 100 had been expected. Competitors are divided by age, then into three skill levels — gold, silver and bronze — and finally as “masters” (those who have competed and passed tests as children) and “adults” (those who began to skate later in life). Events include singles, pairs, ice dancing and “interpretive,” where the emphasis is on the skaters presentation.

At age 80, Lake Placid resident and figure skater Barbara Kelly has competed in all but four championships and made her interpretive debut at the 1995 event dressed as a turkey and skating to “Turkey in the Straw.”

Kelly traveled to Delaware with her friend Shirley Seney who, through networking, exhaustive promotion of the Olympic Center’s three ice rinks and a letter of intent to woo the judges and officials, lured the championships to Lake Placid. This year’s event marks the fifth U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships to be held in the Olympic Village.

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Just Asking: Judith Jamison

On March 30, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater begins celebrating its 50th anniversary, with dozens of churches across the country holding tributes and performances. The Manhattan company is also in the midst of a $30 million fund-raising campaign aimed at giving it one of the biggest endowments of any performing-arts group. (Its endowment now is $22 million.) Artistic director and former dancer Judith Jamison, who has begun looking for a successor to succeed her in 2011, talks below about the troupe.

WSJ: Mr. Ailey was among the first to showcase black dancers and choreographers. What's it like today?

Ms. Jamison: When I started, it was really hard for dancers of color to perform anywhere. It's better but still hard, and there are a lot of great choreographers whose work is hardly seen. But Alvin always said, "You can come and put your dances on my dancers," and that's still important to us.

Your dancers are known for being very athletic. Is running a dance group like running a sports team?

We have two physical therapists who are always on tour with the dancers, and at our home in New York we have an entire room with training and rehab equipment.

Are you trying to reach new and younger audiences?

One of our young staff people came up with the idea of using the Web more to do that. You can see videos of our dancers performing on YouTube and MySpace now.

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More On Boston Ballet Layoffs

Unable to dig itself out of debt, Boston Ballet has eliminated nine jobs, cut back performances, and finally taken the dreaded step of laying off dancers.

more stories like thisThe cash-strapped organization confirmed this week it will reduce its stable of dancers from 50 to 41, which one ballerina, Melanie Atkins, said would be too few to make it a top-tier company.

Richard Johnson, the company's former chief financial officer, said yesterday that the layoffs took him by surprise.

"I know they've been having financial challenges but I didn't know it was that bad," said Johnson, who now holds an equivalent post with the Washington National Opera. "That's a major step."

The news comes less than a week after executive director Valerie Wilder announced she will step down at the end of the season.

Wilder said yesterday that her exit was not connected to the ballet's financial problems, and noted that laying off members of the troupe was not a decision made lightly.

"Everyone else has participated in these measures in enormous ways," said Wilder. "As long as possible, we kept dancers out of it."

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Broadway Series





Top Broadway Musicals Will Make Philadelphia

Premieres at Academy of Music and Forrest Theatre

Spring Awakening And Legally Blonde The Musical

Set to Highlight Sensational New Season!

Award-Winning Lineup Will Also Feature

A Chorus Line, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,

Happy Days – A New Musical

(Philadelphia, Pa., March 6, 2008) – An award-winning combination of dazzling Broadway musicals are set to arrive in Philadelphia, marking the arrival of the new 2008-2009 Cadillac Broadway Series hosted by the Academy of Music and the Forrest Theatre.

The new Cadillac Broadway Series subscription season will feature: LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL (Dec. 2 – 7, 2008); HAPPY DAYS – A NEW MUSICAL (Mar. 24 – 29, 2009); CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (Apr. 7 – 12, 2009); SPRING AWAKENING (Jun. 23 – 28, 2009), all at the Academy of Music; and A CHORUS LINE (Dec. 16 – Dec. 21, 2008) at the Forrest Theatre.

Additional ’08-’09 shows will include: THE WIZARD OF OZ (Nov. 28 – 30, 2008); AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (Jan. 9 – 11, 2009); JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2009); RENT (Feb. 3 – 8, 2009); RIVERDANCE – Farewell Tour (Mar. 31 – Apr. 5, 2009) and MOVIN’ OUT (May 15 – 17, 2009). Two upcoming musicals arriving this summer, MAMMA MIA! (July 15 – 27, 2008) and Monty Python’s SPAMALOT (Aug. 14 – 31, 2008) will also be included as ‘add-ons’ to the new subscription season.

Subscription packages are on sale now by calling 215-893-1955 or online at Single tickets will go on sale at a later date.

“We are thrilled to once again collaborate with the Shubert Organization in bringing the nation’s most popular and successful Broadway touring productions to the Philadelphia region,” said Kimmel Center, Inc. President and CEO Anne Ewers. “Our selection of Broadway offerings has grown every year thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response from our subscribers and the local theater community. We plan to continue our tradition of offering the ‘crème de le crème’ in Broadway musicals to the entire region.”

“Our new subscription season promises to be one of the most spectacular ever—and we are excited to be part of it,” said Gerald Schoenfeld, Chairman of the Shubert Organization, Inc. “By working together with the Kimmel Center, we are able to offer the Philadelphia theater community a larger selection of musical productions in two of Center City’s most beautiful and historic theatres.”

“It’s here, and it’s ‘AN ELLE OF A SHOW’ (Time Magazine). The hilarious MGM film is Broadway’s new smash hit musical, and now LEGALLY BLONDE - The Musical (Dec. 2 – Dec. 7, 2008) is coming to Philadelphia to usher in the new subscription season.

LEGALLY BLONDE follows sorority star Elle Woods, an underestimated blonde who doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more “serious,” Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books anc sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law School. Along the way Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. After turning Broadway and MTV hot pink, this “Feel Good Song and Dance Juggernaut” (New York Magazine) is ‘The Best New Musical Around” (WOR).

Winner of nine Tony Awards, including “Best Musical” and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the singular sensation A CHORUS LINE arrives at the Forrest Theatre (Dec. 16 – Dec. 21, 2008). In an empty theatre, on a bare stage, casting for a new Broadway musical is almost complete. For 17 dancers, this audition is the chance of a lifetime. It’s the one opportunity to do what they’ve always dreamed – to have the chance to dance. This is A CHORUS LINE, the musical for everyone who’s ever had a dream and put it all on the line. The longest-running American Broadway musical ever, A CHORUS LINE now returns. Come meet the new generation of Broadway’s best. “A CHORUS LINE is back, and it’s thrilling!” (John Lahr, The New Yorker)

Goodbye gray skies, hello Blue! Happy days are here again with Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph and the unforgettable “king of cool” Arthur ‘The Fonz” Fonzarelli. HAPPY DAYS – A New Musical, based on the hit Paramount Pictures’ television series makes its Philadelphia premiere (Mar. 24 – 29, 2009). HAPPY DAYS – A New Musical reintroduces one of America’s best loved families, the Cunninghams, and the days of 1959 Milwaukee complete with varsity sweaters, hula hoops and jukebox sock-hoppin.. The famed drive-in malt shop and number one hang-out, Arnold’s, is in danger of demolition, so the gang teams up to save it with a dance contest and TV-worthy wrestling match. This perfectly family-friendly musical will have audiences rockin’ and rollin’ all week long!

HAPPY DAYS – A New Musical has a book by the legendary Garry Marshall, with music & lyrics by Oscar winning composer Paul Williams. Directed by Gordon Greenberg. Music Arrangements and Music Supervision by John McDaniel. Choregraphed by Michele Lynch.

You’ll believe a car can fly, when CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG soars into town (Apr. 7 – 12, 2009). The enthralling adventures of a magical car that sails the seas and flies through the air has been a family favorite since the original motion picture captivated the world’s imagination in 1968. It’s everything you could want in a musical – and more. Sensational sets, stunning special effects, an irresistible story, and an unforgettable Sherman Brothers musical score, including memorable classics like “Truly Scrumptious,” “Hushabye Mountain,” and of course, the Oscar-nominated title song, all add up to a Broadway blockbuster for the entire family.

SPRING AWAKENING (Jun. 23 – 28, 2009), Broadway’s most talked about new musical and now the biggest Tony Award-winner in years will make its Philadelphia premiere at the Academy of Music. SPRING AWAKENING is the groundbreaking fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock & roll that has awakened Broadway like no other musical in years. Winner of eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, SPRING AWAKENING celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood with a power, a poignancy and a passion you will never forget. We agree with The New York Times “Broadway may never be the same again.” Haunting and Electrifying! This brave new musical has a shivery, sensual allure unmatched by anything in the theatre right now.” (Charles Isherwood, The New York Times).

Additional new shows available to subscribers will include:

There truly is no place like home, as the greatest family musical of all time, the wonderful WIZARD OF OZ, twists its way into Philadelphia (Nov. 28 – 30, 2008). The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto, and their friends the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow in this lavish production featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography and classic songs. A spectacular celebration of the iconic MGM film, THE WIZARD OF OZ will blow you away from the moment the tornado touches down and transports you to a sazzling art deco Oz, complete with Munckins and Flying Monkeys.

It’s been 30 years since AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (Jan. 9 – 11, 2009), Broadway’s smash-hit Fats Waller musical revue won six Tony Awards including Best New Musical. Now Richard Maltby, Jr., Tony Award-winning author and director of the 1978 premiere Broadway production, will re-create his original direction for the new 30th Anniversary National Tour. RUBEN STUDDARD, the 2003 American Idol Winner, joins a top-notch cast with a sassy all-star band live onstage. This outrageously prodigious comic and musical soul of 1930’s Harlem is a rollicking, swinging, finger-snapping production – still considered one of Broadway’s best-crafted revues of all time.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 2009), the first masterpiece from the legendary writing team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, first exploded onto the scene in 1971, changing the world of musical theatre fovever. With a score of amazing songs – “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Hosanna,” “Everything’s Alright,” “What’s the Buzz,” “Superstar,” and “Heaven on Their Mind,” this original groundbreaking production starring Ted Neeley in the title role and Living Colour’s Corey Glover as Judas is as relevant and timely as ever.

RENT (Feb. 3 – 8, 2009) returns to the Academy of Music by popular demand! RENT is more than a show, it’s a phenomenon – a theatrical experience that transformed how a generation feels about musicals, changed Broadway forever, and inspired a major motion picture. Whether it’s your 1st time or your 100th time, it’s time you checked out RENT!

RIVERDANCE (Mar. 31 – Apr. 5, 2009), the thunderous celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has tapped its way onto the world stage thrilling millions of people around the globe, will play eight Farewell Performances at the Academy of Music. “A Phenomenon of Historic Proportions!” raves the Washington Post. “An explosion of sight and sound that simply takes your breath away,” cheers the Chicago Tribune. “A family evening unlike anthing else!” exclaims The London Times. Discover why nothing in the world compares to the original international phenomenon! Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, you won’t want to miss these Farewell performances of RIVERDANCE.

Five-time Grammy winner Billy Joel and legendary director/choreographer Twyla Tharp have joined forces to create the spectacular Broadway musical MOVIN’ OUT (May 15 – 17, 2008). Time Magazine declares it “The #1 show of the year.” The New York Times calls it “a shimmering portrait of an American generation. These tornado driven dancers and rock musicians propel the audience into delirious ovations.” MOVIN OUT brings 24 Billy Joel classics to electrifying new life as it tells the story of five life-long friends over two turbulent decades. It all adds up to one unforgettable Broadway musical.

Subscription ticket prices for the 2008-2009 Cadillac Broadway Series season range from $78.50 to $500. To order tickets or for more information on subscription packages call 215-893-1955 or visit Groups of 15 or more call 215-790-5883 or 866-276-2947. Visit online at or Single tickets will go on sale at a later date.

Cadillac Broadway Series subscribers are offered a variety of exclusive privileges including the first opportunity to select the best seats in the house and the option to renew these seats every year. Subscribers are also entitled to discounts of up to 33% on additional Cadillac Broadway Series shows and Kimmel Center Presents performances, in addition to up to 50% savings for both senior citizens and students. A special 50/50 payment plan, along with restaurant and retail discounts are also available to subscribers. A convenient flexible ticket exchange program allows subscribers to exchange tickets for another performance of the same show.

All performances of 2008-2009 Cadillac Broadway Series are supported by Cadillac, CITI, Target, WPVI-TV 6, The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Cadillac Broadway Series.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Penn Jillette Talks Dancing Odds

Penn Jillette goes into the new season of "Dancing With the Stars" next week already a winner -- or loser, depending on how you look at it. "When they started to bring up the idea of my doing the show last year, I realized I was much too heavy, so I actually lost 47 pounds before I started working with Kym," he says, speaking of his professional dance partner, Kym Johnson. "Then I lost three more since we've been working together."
Penn Jillette Ready for "Dancing With the Stars": Talks Odds (ABC)

How did he lose the weight? "Oh, crazy fad diet stuff -- exercising and taking in less calories," he deadpans. "I run eight miles a day on a treadmill." Even so, admits the 53-year-old, 6-foot, 6-inch illusionist/ comedian/ actor/ provocateur, "I'm still the tallest and oldest on the show. At least I'm not 70 pounds heavier than any other contestant. Now I'm probably 30 pounds heavier. I was told by the producers that it is a total disadvantage, but Kym is doing everything she can to spin it to our advantage."

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Dancing With The Stars Preview: The Women

Marlee Matlin just might be the most interesting contestant heading into the competition. After all, she's deaf. How is that going to work? Just the idea behind that already fascinates me. And if that wasn't interesting enough, it's Marlee Matlin! She has an Academy Award and a ton of great TV credits. The West Wing, The L Word, Nip/Tuck, My Name Is Earl.

That name recognition should go a long way for her, and the years of performing for the cameras can't hurt. I do believe that her hearing will ultimately be a non-story. The wild card with Marlee right now appears to be her partner. Fabian Sanchez is making his DWTS debut. Winning the US Mambo Championship is nothing to scoff at, but we haven't seen how he works with an amateur partner, or how he responds to choreographing new performances week after week.

Kristi Yamaguchi should be one of the early favorites. There is certainly precedent for contestants with Olympic skating medals to do well in the competition. Add to that the fact that she has spent years performing in front of huge crowds, and being scored on those performances. The nerves should not be a problem for Kristi.

The big question, of course, is how the graceful moves of a skater translate when the skates make way for the heels. My bet is on very well, and Mark Ballas should prove to be an excellent partner. I'm glad to see him back with a partner that has a real shot, because I still think he left too early in his last go.

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