Modestan gets groove on for TV

At age 72, Evan Berst still loves to dance so much that he sometimes visits nightclubs with his grandchildren.

The Modesto resident's considerable skills won him a televised audition on NBC's "America's Got Talent" and applause from the studio audience. The episode, which aired Tuesday, features him busting a move to James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing."

Though he failed to win a spot in the next round of competition, judge Sharon Osbourne told him he was great at what he does.

Berst said he has danced his whole life and feels much younger than his age. His energy level surprises even him.

"It made me feel nervous just to look at me," he said about watching his TV performance. "I thought 'Who is that old guy dancing?' "

It's not the first time Berst has received recognition for his talent. In December, he beat a much younger man and woman in a dance competition held during a Sacramento Kings game at Arco Arena. That victory got him featured on "Good Day Sacramento."

"Everywhere he goes, he draws huge crowds of people," said son Steve Berst, 48, of Madera.

Evan Berst never has performed publicly in Modesto, but he has a dance floor in his house and likes to hold dancing parties. He is self-taught and picks up moves from watching music videos. He is inspired by Michael Jackson and MC Hammer.

"If I can do it, great," he said. "If I can't do it, I move on."

He maintains an active lifestyle, working as a sales representative for Saderma, a shoe care products company. His job requires him to travel up and down the state.

Berst and his wife, Linda, just celebrated their 50th anniversary. During her husband's "America's Got Talent" performance, Linda was shown proudly watching in the wings and talking with host Nick Cannon. The couple have three children and 11 grandchildren.

Son Steve signed him up for "America's Got Talent" and got him a slot at a screening audition in Los Angeles. Berst passed two auditions before being chosen for a televised audition slot before judges Osbourne, Howie Mandel and Piers Morgan.

Since the show aired, Berst said he has gotten a lot of calls and e-mails from old friends, some of whom he hasn't talked with in more than 40 years. He is interested in performing more on TV and elsewhere.

But right now, he is recovering from a cracked rib he sustained while — what else? — dancing at a wedding held since the taping of "America's Got Talent." He said he wants to get into better shape.

"If I'm going to do this more often, I'm going to lose 30 pounds," he said.

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at or 578-2313.