If you were to describe the Burn the Floor phenomena to anyone in three words, it would probably be sultry, sassy and sensual. Those three words were always enough to carry the brand as precision was a given. Just ask anyone who saw the company’s performance (probably more than once) when they toured SA three years ago.
So that it is the same level of precision and technique we expected when we headed out to the Baxter Theatre on 19 May, ready to be dazzled and amazed once again by Burn the Floor: Fire in the Ballroom!
The show starts off very cheeky, with clever crowd interaction by two of the performers with 18th century French flair (and an apparent knowledge of 20th century cell phones)… we find ourselves at the opera it seems. Exciting!
Curtains up, and the audience gasps at the design and delight of the Act One Entr’acte where the dancers impress with a Blue Danube meets The Dark Side dance-off that sends chills down the spine. With the show being billed as a story told through dance, we like the hint of a dance-off theme being carried throughout. Intrigued, we get comfy in our Baxter red theatre seats to see what is next.
A bit of confusion sets in as we are whisked away to The Latin Quarter where we find beautiful live music added to the mix, but the dance battle theme dropped. The performers to some degree still embracing the 'fight', but to a lesser, personal tango degree... with perhaps not enough on stage 'conflict' to justify an alluded to tragedy. It is also here where our high hope bubble bursts and we become aware that the level of precision associated with the Burn the Floor of past has perhaps been dropped a little in favour of smoke, mirrors and lighting, with at least one of the ladies being just half a beat out of sync with her fellow dancers, and another clearly not trusting her male counterparts enough to properly execute the lifts… causing a bit of a fumble and tumble.
This all made us momentarily question whether Burn the Floor can still claim the best-of-the-best international dance standard. Then luckily the men reclaimed the stage for themselves and grabbed our attention once again. The verdict is unanimous, the gentlemen out-danced the ladies every time with flawless footwork and stage presence to boot. We could watch a show just with them and truly appreciate every second of effort and skill perfectly presented as theatrical art. Those hips definitely don’t lie and they truly deserved the enthusiastic applause they received every time they took to the stage… and not just because half the audiences nearly fainted when they were momentarily topless.
Act Two revealed the beauty of duets which we preferred to the group dance scenes (apart from the opening dance-battle) as it showcased the chemistry, amazing skill and absolute trust required to interpret dance in its purest 'uncluttered' form. One such breath-taking moment was the duet between South African born, Strictly Come Dancing Star, Johannes Radebe and his Australian partner Megan Wragg. They were so strong and composed in their execution, yet elegant and light in movement, that occasionally it appeared as if they were floating…
Having these spellbinding duet performances followed by a Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time’ look inspired dance, set to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Ain’t No Other Man’ music, left us slightly underwhelmed. At this stage we were now also totally clueless as to what the apparent story told through the consecutive dance scenes were. But regardless of our confusion as to theme, the crowd loved the performance, as was evident from the boisterous cheers and whistles. Our fear is just that that was more for the sexy appearance of the dancers and sadly less for the art of dance.
In the end the company ended off strong with their Ballroom Blitz which was once again on par with the magnificence we glimpsed during the opening scene. In our opinion, this Burn the Floor is perhaps not as marvellous as the delightful nostalgic memory of its predecessor three years past, but the latest offering is definitely a crowd pleaser. The current production is perhaps best described as a live music dance concert, rather than a ballroom extravaganza this time around.
Will you waste your money when you buy a ticket? Definitely not, it is very entertaining. Is dance in its purest ballroom form the hero of the ‘story’? We think not. It’s more a general performance piece. Go for the complete theatrical (smoke and mirrors inclusive) package and you won’t be disappointed. A 3 star performance at the very least.
As a side note, from our side to the gentleman of the Burn the Floor company, you sirs are in a league of your own. We thank you for the phenomenal footwork you showcased. You had us so mesmerised you could have be dancing fully clothed in onesies and we would still have applauded your magnificent performance with great gusto!
Burn the Floor is on stage at the Baxter Theatre until 5 June 2016. Grab your tickets at Computicket, and go see how they set fire to the ballroom in their own unique way.