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So You Think You Can Dance Tour waltzes into Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie

Posted 10:04am on Friday, Sep. 24, 2010

The So You Think You Can Dance Tour fox-trotted its way into the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie on Wednesday night, with all the expected accoutrements: Glittery costumes; overwrought dance numbers; and the freshly scrubbed seventh-season runner-up, Kent Boyd, who sent the predominantly female crowd into regular fits of ecstasy.

This stage show isn't about to be confused for a genteel night at the ballet. Then again, when you have something this endearingly earnest and exuberant, who needs the ballet?

This is the fifth go-round for the popular national tour, which each year replays onstage the most notable routines from the previous season of the hit Fox show. By now, the producers have the act down to a science: Contestants emerge to introduce their fellow performers, who then take the stage for numbers that last about three to four minutes.

Mixed in with the solos and duos are a handful of ensemble pieces. When the dancers need a breather, we watch clips from the past season on one of three large video screens. (A crutch the producers might have relied a bit less upon; $55 seems a steep price to pay for something we've already seen for free in our living room.)

A dance critic would no doubt find fault with the sometimes daffy choreography, such as the interpretive number set to Gary Jules' version of Mad World, in which contestants Billy Bell and Ade Obayomi play two former friends, one now homeless, the other a successful banker, meeting after many years. The men writhe around on the floor in a manner that suggests that they just ate some bad fish.

More often, though, a tremendous energy and imagination came pouring off the stage.

The production moved fluidly from ballroom (season-seven winner Lauren Froderman and Adechike Torbert sultrily danced to the R&B standard Fever) to hip-hop to Broadway (Boyd turned up again with "All Star" Obayomi for a number set to Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo. from Damn Yankees) to even a Bollywood-style production number, which closed the first act and was the high point of the evening.

Say this for the tour's Whitman's Sampler-style approach: It is nothing if not a sincere attempt to push dance far into the mainstream and make it accessible to everyone.

There are moments when you cringe at the sheer cheesiness on display.

But you can also sense the joy and surprise of the performers, who have been famous for an art form that doesn't produce too many celebrities. That joy is infectious: At least six of the 30 or so numbers performed during the 21/2-hour production brought the rapturous crowd to its feet.

Christopher Kelly, 817-390-7032

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