Not strictly ‘Ballroom’ 

click to enlarge Reality show extravaganza: “Ballroom With a Twist” mixes “Dancing With the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Reality show extravaganza: “Ballroom With a Twist” mixes “Dancing With the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol.”

The new “Ballroom With a Twist” combines the vigor of “Dancing With the Stars,” the spunk of “So You Think You Can Dance” and the musical renderings of “American Idol.”

The show, which has garnered good reviews on tour, opens today in The City at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre for a 12-performance run.

There’s plenty of dance involved, but the outing begs the question: What’s the twist?

One word: Singing. Past “American Idol” participants on board are delivering vocals.

One of the show’s stars, Jonathan Roberts — a Bay Area native and one of the pro dancers from “Dancing With the Stars” — says the addition of live vocals is just one of the things that make the endeavor really pop creatively.

“Often when I’ve seen dance shows, as great as they are, it’s two hours of Argentine tango, etc., and this is a perfect blend,” he adds. “It goes back and forth from the different dance styles and the singing.”

Roberts, who grew up in Santa Rosa, eventually relocated to San Jose for many years — all while absorbing the dance culture the Bay Area had to offer.

He got his start a bit late, by his own admission, at 20. He was walking out of the movie “Scent of a Woman,” starring Al Pacino, when he noticed a sign for a free dance lesson (with a movie stub). His life was never the same.

In time, he merged more than creative talents with wife Anna Trebunskaya, a pro ballroom dancer and “DWTS” star who was partnered with Jack Wagner last season.

“You’re going to hear music you would hear in a Top 40 dance club,  but also music from Frank Sinatra and other Big Band music,” says Roberts, noting that the show includes audience participation.

Roberts and Trebunskaya, appearing Thursday through Sunday, aren’t alone in the production, which was conceived by “DWTS” choreographer and dancer Louis van Amstel.

“DWTS” Season 14 winners Peta Murgatroyd and Dmitry Chaplin take the stage July 26-29.

Rounding out the cast are: Allen Genkin and Alla Kocherga (“Dancing With the Stars” Ballroom Battle winners), Randi Lynn Strong (“So You Think You Can Dance,” season 5), Jonathan Platero (“So You Think You Can Dance,” season 5) and Tadd Gadduang (“So You Think You Can Dance,” season 8).


Ballroom With a Twist

Where: Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays; closes July 29

$49 to $79

Contact: (415) 771-6900;

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Greg Archer

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