Performing Arts

‘Sway’ brings ‘Dancing With the Stars’ pros to Miami

‘Dancing With the Stars’ pros Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd headline the Latin dance segment of ‘Sway: A Dance Trilogy’ Dec. 3-6 at the Olympia Theater in Miami.
‘Dancing With the Stars’ pros Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd headline the Latin dance segment of ‘Sway: A Dance Trilogy’ Dec. 3-6 at the Olympia Theater in Miami. Dance With Me/Sway

Ballroom dancing will bring the heat, South Florida style, during Art Basel weekend.

Credit a cast culled from television’s Dancing With the Stars, throw in a celebrity or two, and mix with a closing finale set to Latin music and a South Beach motif.

Sway: A Dance Trilogy opens a five-show run on Thursday at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami. Headliners include Sway cofounder Maksim “Maks” Chmerkovskiy, his brother Valentin “Val” and fellow DWTS pro Tony Dovolani, all of whom are affiliated with the presenting Dance With Me company.

Maks asked DWTS pro Peta Murgatroyd to join this year’s fourth edition, the first in Miami. Each of the four dancers has won one of the show’s coveted Mirror Ball trophies. Olympian Meryl Davis, who won DWTS when partnered with Maks in May 2014, and Rumer Willis, who won the title with Val in May 2015, will be featured performers.

“Ballroom dancing is no longer a thing your grandparents did, the dorky thing you didn’t want to admit you’re doing,” says Murgatroyd, 29, from rehearsals in Los Angeles. “This is something freaking amazing to do. Keeps you fit and healthy, and it’s an incredible art form that inspires people.”

Sway taps into that feeling and the ballroom revival fueled by the splashy TV dance shows.

“These kind of shows, like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, brought it back for people to fall in love with again. [They have] given children and teens a greater purpose to be creative, so it’s good for the art form,” Murgatroyd says.

Sway, however, is not the Dancing With the Stars Tour redux. It’s more theatrical, Murgatroyd says. Divided into three parts, it delves into the lives of its pro dancers.

Sway opens with a debonair Dovolani leading a production number meant to evoke the nightclub scene of 1940s and ’50s Manhattan.

Val brings an emphasis on hip-hop, street and urban influences to the second act. Then Maks, with Murgatroyd, brings South Beach to the mainland for a fusion of salsa, rumba and cha cha.

“It’s about the three boys — Maks, Tony and Val — and their journeys to America, and what that means to them,” Murgatroyd says.

“It’s amazing because I have no roots in South America. I’m Eastern European, so it’s very strange that I’ve always been drawn to that culture, and it’s kind of exciting,” Maks said.

Murgatroyd, born in Auckland, New Zealand, and raised in Perth, Australia, similarly finds herself attracted to Latin rhythms.

“I must say my favorite dances in the show are during my section,” she says. “I love the passionate, fiery dances. I don’t get to tell my story about coming to America, but I get to do the dances I love like the salsa and rumba and cha cha. I like creating a story when I dance, and those dances do that with love and lust and anger and pain, and the cha cha is cheery. I like exploring those things. Perfect for Miami.”

I can’t wait to explore Miami and get into the culture and all the salsa clubs and really experience it.

Peta Murgatroyd, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ pro

A percentage of ticket sales from Sway, and an associated golf tournament and dance camp, will benefit Doral-based Alfalit International, a non-profit group that provides literacy, basic education and vocational training programs.

“Alfalit, for years, was known as the best-kept secret in the industry we are in. … We wanted to create that awareness with Dance With Me and Maks, and they have huge exposure on social media,” says Joseph Milton, Alfalit’s board chairman.

Keep your eyes out for first-time Miami visitor Murgatroyd, too, amid all the Sway and Art Basel excitement.

“I can’t wait to explore Miami and get into the culture and all the salsa clubs and really experience it,” she says.

Miami Herald writer Caterina Balzano contributed to this story.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

If you go

What: ‘Sway: A Dance Trilogy.’

Where: Olympia Theater at Gusman Center, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: $69-$199 (premium and VIP packages available).

Information: 305-374-2444 or www.dancewithmeusa.com/sway/.

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