AVON PARK - "Ballroom with a Twist" featuring celebrity pros from "Dancing with the Stars," finalists from "So You Think You Can Dance," along with finalists from "American Idol" will take the stage Thursday at the South Florida State College Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Emma Slater from "Dancing with the Stars" spoke with Highlands Today on Tuesday as she was traveling from Key Largo to Key West for a show.
Slater, who grew up in the Midlands of England, moved to London when she was 16 where she performed in competitions and theater shows. She joined "Dancing with the Stars" in 2012 and made her pro dance debut in Season 17 with funny-man Bill Engvall.
The exposure from the TV show has been both "shocking" and "heartwarming," with everybody saying nice things about her, Slater said.
"Career wise it has been the most significant for me," she said. "It literally changed my life."
She had to move to a different county and faced new and different challenges such as taking care of a celebrity and creating the choreography, Slater said.
The outcome of the dance pairing of Engvall and Slater surprised many.
"We got to the finals and it was very unexpected because he was literally thought of as a person who would go out first. The bookies in Las Vegas had him leaving the show first and he ended up going all the way to the finals and no one was more shocked than he was."
Slater enjoys dancing to the live singing of "American Idol" finalists Gina Glocksen and Von Smith on the "Ballroom with a Twist" tour.
"They are amazing," Slater said. "It's so much better to dance to than just a recorded track."
The show's dancing styles includes: ballroom, Latin, hip hop and contemporary.
"There is nothing that can really replace live performances," she said. "So the audience can expect a lot of energy, a lot of passion and very, very high quality live dancing."
Jonathan "Legacy" Perez from "So You Think You Can Dance," told Highlands Today he is part of the "twist" aspect of "Ballroom with a Twist."
"I spin on my head and do a lot of acrobatic movements as well as some jive numbers," he said. "I am trying to broaden my repertoire. I am a big fanatic of dance movements in general so anything having to do with dancing I am very open to learning."
Being on the television show provided an avenue for him to learn a little bit of ballroom, jazz, pop/hip hop dancing styles, Legacy said.
"Ballroom with a Twist" also features celebrity pros Sasha Farber and Oksana Dmytrenko from "Dancing with the Stars" and finalists Randi Lynn Strong and Legacy from "So You Think You Can Dance."
Tickets are available for "Ballroom with a Twist" at 7:30 p.m., Thursday at the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts. For more information and to purchase tickets go online to www.southflorida.edu and click on Cultural Programs.