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Dancing with the Stars has been a juggernaut for ABC, having aired nineteen installments since 2005. The series is a staple on the Nielsen ratings’ top twenty weekly programs list, and has not only made household names of the professional dancers, but has also revived interest in the celebrities paired with those dancers. This coming January, ABC, BBC Worldwide and Faculty Productions are teaming up to present a live stage spectacular that’s sure to delight fans in Florida.

Winter-AE-Preview_copy1Dancing with the Stars: Live! will be bringing your favorite professional dancers to you as they showcase their favorite routines and some of the numbers you liked on this past season of the show. This season’s Mirrorball Trophy winner, Alfonso Ribeiro, will play host on the tour. The dancers who will be taking part in the 39-city nationwide tour are Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Emma Slater, Mark Ballas, Witney Carson, Keo Motsepe, Sasha Farber, and Kym Johnson.

The tour arrives in Florida on Friday, January 2, with a performance at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando. Then there will be two special performances at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Saturday, January 3: one matinee show and one evening show. Finally, the show goes to Jacksonville on Sunday, January 4, with the dancers performing to crowds at the Moran Theater at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets are available right now and they can be purchased online via dwtstour.com, or they can be purchased in person from the venues’ box offices, all the way up to the days of the performances. Ticket prices start at $35 (Orlando), $38.75 (Clearwater) and $50.19 (Jacksonville). There is also a “VIP Experience” package, available from vipnation.com. The VIP Meet and Greet package costs $249 and includes a ticket in the second through tenth rows, a meet and greet and photo op with cast members, an exclusive Dancing with the Stars gift item, a commemorate VIP laminate and ticket, crowd-free merchandise shopping and an on-site VIP host.

dancing-with-the-stars_copy2Mark Ballas is a fan favorite who has won the Mirrorball Trophy twice, with former Olympic medalists Kristi Yamaguchi (season six) and Shawn Johnson (season eight). In this past season, he was paired with Duck Dynasty‘s Sadie Robertson and the duo made it to second place in the competition.

I spoke to Mark Ballas about the upcoming tour and about his experiences on the show.

Many of our readers think you’re hot! How does it feel knowing that gay men find you attractive?

It wouldn’t bother me at all! Dancing is an art. It is hot, it is sexy, it is beautiful. My goal is to bring joy to all people, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

Please tell us a little bit about the show and what people can expect.

On the show, where you have a celebrity and a professional dancer dance together, you never really get the full effect that you’d see when you see two professionals dance together. This show is a very heavily professionally-danced show. You will really get to appreciate the movements, or what we like to call the “clarity and quality” of the dances. I’m excited to present the show live, too, so I think it’s going to shape up to be a great show.

We’re going to be having a celebrity host but for the most part it’s all about the professional dancers, and I’m excited to come to the cities down here and show everyone what we’re capable of doing when we’re paired with our professional colleagues.

What do some of your professional dancer colleagues bring to the tour that’s unique?

All of our dancers are very different and very powerful in their own ways. Val brings an amazing quality in his performance, a skilled technique and power. I feel like I bring a lot of character to my dances; they’re very expressive. Witney is a powerhouse; she brings a natural sexiness and beauty to her movements. When you see Emma dance, you feel like you know her. She has this amazing personality on and off the dance floor and I think that really shines through in her movements.

What do you attribute the show’s long-running popularity to?

We haven’t been afraid to evolve. We’ve changed formulas, we’ve changed dance styles, we’ve changed pros, we’ve changed judges. We’ve built new sets, we now use master tracks instead of the band. I think the creativity on the part of the professional dancers has improved too. You can’t do the same stuff over and over again or else nobody would tune in. Allowing the dancers and the creative people to try new things is what I think is keeping the show moving forward.

How important is chemistry when it comes to dancing as a couple?

Chemistry is everything, whether it’s chemistry on the dance floor or in a friendship. You have to have chemistry to get people invested and wanting to watch your dances. There are certain seasons where you’re not in-tune with the other person, and then there are seasons where you feel 100% in-tune, and that’s how I felt this season with Sadie. Her and I had so much in common. We’re so goofy and friendly and immediately we were in tune with each other and we were able to bring out the best in each other.

I hear the Mirrorball Trophy is coming along on tour with you guys. You’ve won it twice; do you think you’ll win it again in the future?

I thought Sadie and I were really close to getting it as this season went on, and then when we had the final chance, I thought we really did have a good shot at winning, but in the end we came up short.

The winner was really good though, and he was consistently good and it showed from the very first episode. With Sadie, she was good in the first episode but she showed such drastic improvement as the season went on, and to me that’s what the show is all about. I’d love to win the trophy one more time, sure, but it’s all about the journey, and I was so proud of how far Sadie came. I thought she deserved to win, but I will say that she was such a good sport about it all. At her age, that was really remarkable to see. There have been seasons where I didn’t win and I’ve felt mad, but she handled everything beautifully.

To find out more about the Dancing with the Stars: Live! Tour, visit dwtstour.com. For more information about the TV show, visit abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.