Kym Johnson dances the ‘Twist’ in Wilkes-Barre

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First Posted: 4/7/2014

What do the samba, waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, and jive all have in common? They’re all styles of dancing – ballroom dancing – and Australian native and two-time “Dancing with the Stars” trophy winner Kym Johnson is no stranger to any of them.

The Weekender spoke with Johnson, 37, about her ballroom dance career and her upcoming stint with “Ballroom with a Twist,” which stops at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre on April 12.

Originally enrolled in ballet classes at the young age of 3, Johnson was always dancing. However, it wasn’t until she was 13 that she took interest in ballroom dance.

“My brother met this girl at school who took ballroom dance lessons, so then he started to. I would drive him to lessons,” she recalls of her first exposure to it. “I always thought it was something your grandparents did, you know? But as I started doing it, I just fell in love with it.”

Following her lessons, Johnson went on to become the Australian Ballroom Champion and represented Australia in the “World 10” dance competition twice.

Having danced on both the Australian and American versions of the show, she won the famous mirror ball trophy during the second season of “Dancing with the Stars Australia” and twice on the American version – once with singer Donny Osmond and again with football player Hines Ward.

ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” offers celebrities a chance to try their hand – or feet – at competitive dancing, pairing them up with professional dancers. Week after week, the pairs perform different styles of dance for the judges and are then judged on a scale of 1 to 10 by the panel.

When asked about the seconds before the judges give their remarks, Johnson mentioned the adrenaline rushing throughout her body.

“The feeling is really the best ever. It’s like no other,” she said.

Though she is a seasoned professional, she still does things she hasn’t done before. For the first time, Johnson joined a panel of four judges on “Dancing with the Stars Australia” and most recently set off on tour with “Ballroom with a Twist.”

Combining dancing from Johnson and her partner Tristan MacManus, also a “DWTS” alum, and “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” finalists with live music, “Ballroom” certainly does offer a twist.

Johnson describes the tour as “a combination of live music, dancing, and a whole performance that really is beautiful.”

If there is one thing to take away from the show, it is that ballroom dance “really is a beautiful art.”

As for aspiring dancers, she offers some words of advice: “Keep going to practices and don’t give up. Really, it’s all about keeping at it and pushing through the rough patches to create something beautiful.”