‘Burn The Floor’ is no slow-glowing ember

By Lesley Stones 18 July 2011

Evolution is a wonderful thing. Especially when it can turn the staid, sedate art of the waltz into a sizzling, sexy show like “Burn The Floor”. By LESLEY STONES

Billed as a show that would make your grandparents blush, there’s a lovely scene to remind us how ballroom dancing used to be. Elegant couples glide around in tuxedos and long satin gowns, with demure elbow-length gloves and hair tucked into neat chignons. In the old days men took the lead even though women like Ginger Rogers were doing it all backwards and in killer heels.

Now it’s not just the moves that have changed, it’s the whole attitude. These “Burn The Floor” women take deliciously assertive, aggressive roles, becoming strong role models who know what they want and go out to get it. If I’d seen this as a kid, I’d have grown up determined to be a dancer.

The choreography by artistic director Jason Gilkison is superb. Flawless, in fact. The dancers kick, spin, shimmy and leap their way through all the classic ballroom and Latin American dance styles, with modern twists that make it absolutely spellbinding. If you look away you’re bound to miss some bold steps that have the rest of the audience clapping, and there were shouts of “Bravo” in one sequence.

There’s a lovely speakeasy scene with swing style dancing, then a hot Spanish section, interspersed with some slow, sultry numbers so the pace is as varied as the dance routines. For a few of the scenes three singers take charge, adding another level of interest through the diverse musical moods. Sitting above the dancers are a percussionist and a drummer, with the rest of the music provided by backing tracks.

The music has been specially selected for its “dance-ability”, with lots of pounding drumbeats. There are only a few familiar tunes, which is great because it introduces new music and avoids feeling like a rehash of the same old stuff as so many of these all-image-no-story shows often do.

Everyone on stage is not only a brilliant dancer, they’re also gorgeous and their hot bodies are clad in suitably stunning outfits. Costume designer Janet Hine gives us tons of sequins and sparkles, glitter and glam, with gorgeous skimpy outfits for maximum “legginess”. Women get plenty of eye-candy too through a succession of open-shirted outfits for the snake-hipped men.

It’s an explosive show and excellent lighting adds to the overall effect making “Burn The Floor” an extremely slick, high-voltage event. It will rekindle your belief in passion and romance, and make you yearn to slim down, sex up your wardrobe and grab a partner for a quick Paso Doble. DM

“Burn The Floor” runs at the Joburg Theatre until 14 August.

Photos by Mariola Biela.

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