The Legends in Concert show in Branson is known for the quality of its tribute artists and production. That’s no surprise because of its ownership by Legends in Concert in Las Vegas. They have been entertaining America for over 33 years, with an entourage of over 125 of the finest tribute artists in the world and spectacular productions, in Las Vegas, Branson, and more than 13 other locations.
Although the tribute artists are the stars of the show, a hallmark of a Legends in Concert production is the combination of the tribute artist’s talent, with a live band, support vocalists, dancers, special effects, great sound, and lighting into a one of a kind “legendary” entertainment experience. The talent, energy, passion, and dedication of the “Legends in Concert Dancers” are a large part of that experience.
In a typical Legends in Concert show there are five sets with four or more numbers in each set. Each set has a different style of music and, within each set, there are normally different styles of music. The Legends in Concert dancers perform in the vast majority of these numbers with different choreography and costuming for each. Not only is the talent and commitment of these dancers amazing, but the stamina and co-ordination required to make the quick costume changes between numbers, dance act after act, for two shows a day, and miss nary a step, is to this writer, nothing short of miraculous.
Recently, the Branson Register had the opportunity to interview, Cindy Dardas, the “Dance Captain” of Branson’s Legends in Concert. Her personal insights help tell the story of the commitment, passion, and dedication that it takes, to be not only a professional dancer, but a “Legends in Concert Dancer.” A Question and Answer format was used with the Branson Register (BR) asking the question and Cindy Dardas (CD) responding:
BR: If you could dance professionally with any other dancer, living or dead, who would it be and why?
CD: Janet Jackson has always been my go to girl. I grew up watching her dancing videos.
BR: How old were you when you first started dancing?
CD: Three years old and I have been dancing ever since.
BR: What kind of training have you had to be a dancer
CD: Just dancing lessons and experience dancing since I was three. I started because my older sister was taking dancing lessons. At first it was once a week, but over the years the intensity and number of lessons grew all through high school.
BR: How long have you been dancing professionally?
CD: For about 24 years. When I got out of high school I told my parents I wanted a year to see where my dancing could lead, but that if I didn’t get something within that time I would go to college. I auditioned for Disney World in 1994 and have been dancing professionally ever since.
BR: How long have you been dancing in Branson?
CD: In 1999 I danced for 8 months with a show called Branson All Star Review. I left Branson until 2006 when I returned to dance in Country Tonite. In 2007 a position opened up in Legends in Concert where I have been dancing ever since.
BR: What are the qualifications for someone to become a “Legends in Concert Dancer?”
CD: There’s many things to consider but dance training and experience are primary. Initially, applicants submit a head shot, resume and a demo reel which enables us to evaluate their training, experience, and dancing ability
BR: What are the qualification for being a “Dance Captain” for the Legends of Concert show?
CD: Among other things, desire, leadership skills, positive attitude, being a problem solver, and the ability to teach.
BR: What does the Dance Captain do beyond dancing in the show?
CD: Whew, lots! Manage the dance element of the show and do whatever is necessary to insure that our dancers are ready to contribute their all to giving our audiences the great entertainment experience Legends in Concert is known for. One of my duties is to take the choreography for the show sent by Legends in Concert out of Las Vegas, teach it to my dancers, and monitor their performance to make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing.
BR: What’s the hardest part about being a Dance Captain?
CD: Nothing, I love it and have such a great group of dancers to work with. I love the challenge of problem solving and being quick on my feet.
BR: Give us an example of the type of problem solving you are referring to?
CD: This is a live show and things just happen. If one of the acts in the show can’t perform for one reason or another, set lists and show orders change meaning changing out dance numbers in the show, emergency rehearsals, and whatever it takes, but “the show must go on.” Dancing, as much as we do, in two shows a day, is physically challenging and sometimes result in injuries during the show. A short while back, we came off stage, between number, and went back to the dressing room to quick change. One of the dancers said that she had just twisted her ankle and couldn’t put pressure on it. The next number is coming up in two minutes. Within less than two minutes, I have to address the problem of the injured dancer, get the next number re-blocked, give the girls their new assignments, finish the costume change, and be back on stage.
BR: What one word best describes how you personally feel about the talent of the dancers in the Legends in Concert show?
CD: Blessed, I feel very blessed
BR: Why did you use that word?
CD: Because we have such a great group of girls. They are very talented and love what they do which is huge when you are doing two shows a day six days a week. They appreciate the art, love it, respect it. It’s more than just a job to them; they love doing what they do, sharing it with our audiences, and it shows in every performance.
BR: How do the dancers contribute to the overall enjoyment of the audience enjoying a Legends in Concert Performance?
CD: They add a different, exciting, colorful, and active element to each set they are in for the audience to enjoy. It’s part of a cohesive team effort that results in our guests having a wonderful entertainment experience. Everyone on that team, the tribute artists; live band; dancers; ushers; ticket sales and concession personal; lighting and sound technicians; and management, at both the local and corporate level; is dedicated to that one thing.
BR Who are the current “Legends in Concert Dancers?”
CD: The Legends in Concert Dancers are Starr Marberry, Dasha Ruden and Simone Bouffard, and myself with Elizabeth Sambol and Kenya Wilhite doing double duty as Singer/Dancers.
BR: What one thing do you most want people to know about the Legends in Concert Dancers?
CD: They are great girls, love what they do, work their butts off, and are willing to go above and beyond to make sure our guests have a great entertainment experience.
BR: From a dancing perspective, what’s your personal favorite set in the Summer edition of Branson’s Legends in Concert?
CD: From a pure dancing perspective, Garth Brooks in the current schedule [Summer 2018.] It’s a big old party, upbeat and fun.
BR: Where does the choreography for the show come from?
CD: Primarily in house from our corporate headquarters in Las Vegas. Every time we have a changeover they send us the new choreography, staging, and costuming and we return the costuming from the departing acts to them. [The same acts appearing in Branson perform throughout the Legends in Concert system.] On special occasions, they sometimes use outside choreographers for special projects. The opening number in this show was choreographed by Lacy Schwimmer, a well know choreographer and dancer who was a finalist on Season 3 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance and was one of the most popular dancers on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars for over six seasons. She actually spent three days with us in Branson, working with us on the number.
BR: What does “load the show” mean?
CD: From an overall show perspective, it means getting it all set and ready so the public has a great experience. As Dance Captain, it means getting my dancers prepared, teaching them the new routines and choreography, and rehearsing with the incoming acts, sound, lights, and special effects to make sure everything is ready for the opening night of the new acts. [Except for their two resident acts, “The Blues Brothers” and “Elvis Presley,” Legends in Concert changes the acts in the show four times a year. Each time that happens the show must be”loaded.”]
BR: What one thing would you like people thinking about coming to see the Legends in Concert to know?
CD: I want them to know that the whole family will have a great time!
Don’t miss seeing these “legendary” dancers perform in every Legends in Concert show. Click here for more information, tickets, and the scheduling.