Fill your dance card

2011-07-22 08:47

So you think you can dance? Well, you can’t. But the cast of Burn the Floor can, and do.

For the best part of two hours, they set the Nelson Mandela Theatre stage alight, leaving the audience as breathless as they should have been, but weren’t.

The joyful abandon and energy on stage put the audience on an endorphin buzz and made everyone wish fervently they could cha-cha, quickstep and rumba.

This show, created by Australia’s former ballroom and Latin champion, Jason Gilkison, has been touring the world since its debut performance in England in 1999.

Gilkison created the first version of the show for Elton John’s 50th birthday.

It was such a success, a producer picked it up.

After years on the road, the show finally made its way to Broadway in 2009 and that is the version that is now on our stage in Joburg.

Watching it really does feel like a Broadway experience, the one Hollywood and our imagination conspire to make us believe is what it should be like.

There is a gossamer narrative thread in that the show pays homage to the elegant dancehall couples who waltzed their way to romance in the 1930s and 1940s.

Gilkison’s grandfather opened the first ballroom studio in his native Perth in 1931, so in a way it’s also a nod to family.

In this way, Burn the Floor shows the progression of the art form to contemporary ballroom and Latin.

By the time the nine couples get to the paso-doble, they’ve traversed decades of dance styles, music and fashion – all tricked out in an alluring blend of romance and raw passion.

Gilkison’s choreography ensures that this show never feels like one of those where each couple takes a turn.

Rather, he blends and blurs numbers so that as one reaches a climax, another is beginning to smoulder.

This is not strictly ballroom either.

The dancers get to loosen up and express themselves without the constraints of competition rules.

The results are technical brilliance paired with sensual flair – a combination that got a 10 from the audience on opening night.

Keeping the rhythm of the show pumping at top tempo are the two drummers and percussionists, Joe Malone and Henry Soriano, who tap out every step the dancers make, while the clever lighting creates shadows that give the stage the character of a
smoky nightclub.

The spotlights also provide an added “gasp factor” as the dancers finish in some spectacular poses before swirling and twirling into the next number – in a completely different blinged-out costume.

There are 367 costumes and accessories worn in the show, and 194 pairs of shoes, while each dancer apparently spends 640 hours on stage a year.

Now those are big numbers and, hopefully, the show will get even bigger numbers in ticket sales.

Once you’ve experience ballroom this way, you’ll be feverish to fill your dance card every day.

»? Burn the Floor runs at the Joburg Theatre’s Nelson Mandela Theatre until August 14. To book call 0861 670 670 or visit www.joburgtheatre.com 

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