By Hal Boedeker
ncer-singer Mark Ballas says fans can expect a versatile show from the "Dancing With the Stars" tour and rattles off the variety: ragtime, Gene Kelly, modern, Latin, traditional ballroom, even ’70s funk.
"It's crowd reactive, intimate, up close and personal," says Ballas, who has won the ABC contest twice.
The Orlando performance, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Bob Carr Theater, is sold-out. Current champ Alfonso Ribeiro hosts the 40-city tour, which includes professional dancers Witney Carson, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Kym Johnson, Emma Slater, Keo Motsepe and Sasha Farber.
Ballas praises Ribeiro's style. "He's got a loud voice and a huge presence. He brings the show together," he said.
During the tour, Ballas performs his songs, such as "Get My Name"; plays three numbers on guitar; and dances at least eight times.
"My goal is to entertain, not put my eggs in one basket," Ballas said, noting that he choreographs and started in musical theater. "At some point I'd like to do a Broadway show. Music is a tremendous focus for me. I don't want to succumb to the idea you can do only one thing."
He writes or co-writes his songs: "It's more personal when it's coming from the artist's heart."
His album "Kicking Clouds" has drawn comparisons to Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake, but Ballas says his guitar style, with flamenco and blues techniques, gives his music a fresh, percussive style. His song "Miss Incredible" aims to celebrate and inspire women.
He certainly has been inspired by his female partners on the ABC show. "I loved the seasons with Kristi [Yamaguchi] and Shawn [Johnson], my two champions," he said.
He raves about his last partner, Sadie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty." "She's just a really awesome, sweet girl. She took this competition head on and had the right attitude," he said. "She had a sense of calmness. That kept me calm. Her beautiful attitude made it enjoyable for me going into my 15th season."
Was she easy to train? "She was incredibly easy to train. Her attitude was flawless," he said. "She never complained, never had any tantrums. She was there on time, a smile on her face, the sweetest disposition."
He also praises other former dance partners. His take on:
Sabrina Bryan: "Awesome. She was probably the most natural and aggressive and fierce partner. She did have prior dance training. She was young and athletic, everything was super fast. It was my first season. We got along really well. She showed me around L.A., introduced me to her friends. It was a tremendous season. We remain good friends."
Candace Cameron Bure: "She had natural ability. She started off strong. Her nerves would get the best of her. In rehearsal she'd be excellent. ... She started to crack under the pressure. We had an amazing time. I love her family and kids. I loved my time with her. We became good friends."
Kim Kardashian: She "wasn't the best dancing partner. I love her, she's awesome, we became good friends. I know the family well. Dancing was not her thing, but she's a great girl."
Dancing with Bristol Palin, daughter of former Gov. Sarah Palin, was a unique experience, Ballas said. "She was not the best dancer, she was not the most outgoing person, but people found her intriguing," he said. "People were thinking they'd be like her, a fish out of water, if they were on the show. We made the finals. There were better dancers. It showed the power of the fans."
Ballas said he couldn't say if he'll be with "Dancing" when it celebrates its 10th anniversary in the spring.
Why has it lasted? "Every season is always changing," he said. "You're seeing the same style dances but done a million different ways. It's intriguing and appealing to the audience. It's not the same, redundant things. The show lets dancers express ourselves."