Daniella Karagach is a dancer who has represented the United States in multiple world championship competitions around the globe, however one of her most recent accomplishments has been winning the Mirrorball Trophy, awarded to the championship pair on the ABC Network’s popular “Dancing With The Stars.”
With the premise of pairing celebrities who have varying degrees of skill and history in dancing with professional dancers, “Dancing With The Stars” has aired 30 seasons, with Karagach partnering with NBA basketball player Iman Shumpert for their win on the most recent season.
“It’s the only show that truly represents ballroom dancing,” Karagach said. “The show shows everyone going through those stages of not feeling confident and being vulnerable, and then working together to create an art.
“Everyone gets a sneak peek into how we learn, how we start to trust one another, how the whole week of us training for competition is all on air, and then we get to perform and the audience can see how it all turned out.”
The popularity of the television show has led to a live adaptation – the “Dancing With The Stars: Live! Tour” – which will appearin Reno on Saturday, March 26 at the Grand Theater inside the Grand Sierra Resort, and Daniella will be one of the show’s featured dancers performing throughout the tour, along with celebrity guest star, Amanda Kloots.
In describing how the tour takes a little bit of the pressure off of the dancers, removing them from a competitive environment before a panel of judges and instead giving them the chance to perform for live audiences, Karagach said that it opens up some room for the dancers to really express themselves.
“The choreography doesn’t really change, but the energy in the building changes when you have a live audience,” she said. “Emotionally, even physically, it’s way easier dancing in front of people who are clapping for you.”
Her partner during the previous season on the show was rapper Nelly, whose awkward lack of ballroom dancing know how gradually evolved, with the couple ultimately finishing in third place. When she was paired with the 6-foot, 5-inch-tall Shumpert the following season, she repeated the opportunity to work with someone who didn’t arrive with a strong dance background.
“In the beginning, Nelly was questioning everything, but then he goes through this process where you start trusting one another more, and after that it’s sort of smooth sailing. With Iman, when we first met, he’s an athlete, so he was in it to win it from the get go. He was just really wanting to learn. For me, that’s so much fun. I just love that process of finding someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and making them more confident in it.”
Daniella gives a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes at the show as well to work with the diverse cast of celebrities who appear on the show: “We have an amazing team in the creative department. In the beginning of the season, we let the celebrity choose their songs, we ask them what styles they like. We actually have a technique book written for ballroom dancers. But in this competition when you get a celebrity that’s twice your height or might be injured, we have to adjust to that on the spot. And it’s interesting to be able to see how we can morph them into dancers with their strengths and kind of hiding their weaknesses.”
The live performances on the “Dancing With The Stars” tour also has been able to change and adapt. In the 10 tours, celebrities from the show pair with dancers in a mix of new choreography mixed with popular dances that were performed on the show. Joining celebtiry Amanda Kloots in Reno will be 10 professional dancers from the show – including Mirrorball winner Daniella Karagach.
In describing the work that went into this tour’s production, Daniella said, “The tour is so interesting in terms of how many solos we have. The dancers are all amazing, everyone really brings something to the table. But on this tour in particular, everything is so raw. There are a lot of emotional pieces of choreography. You will definitely feel something at one point or another in the show.”
‘Dancing With The Stars: Live!’
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 26
Where: Grand Theater at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
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