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  1. Arts & Entertainment

'Burn the Floor' is a sultry mix of ballroom standards and choreography that pops

The international cast of the show represents Slovenia, Venezuela, South Africa, Australia, Italy, England and the United States.
The international cast of the show represents Slovenia, Venezuela, South Africa, Australia, Italy, England and the United States.
Published Apr. 25, 2012

TAMPA — Sparkles, skin, swagger — everything about Burn the Floor is equally eye-grabbing. The intensity and captivating pace could make you forget to breathe if it wasn't involuntary. And that seemed to be the intent of this high-energy dance extravaganza, which debuted on Broadway in 2009 and has since made its international rounds and stops in Tampa through Sunday.

Dubbed "Ballroom. Reinvented," Burn the Floor is a bit like pop opera, mixing in the old with the new. Don't go looking for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; likewise the fragile and emaciated dancers of Black Swan are thankfully missing. What you will see instead are curvy, athletic and sometimes greased bodies, eccentric costumes and exceptional, sultry dancers.

Divided into four themes — Inspirations, Things That Swing, The Latin Quarter and CODA: The Last Part — the performance features a cast of 20 dancers in non-stop fluid movements from the Viennese Waltz to the Lindy. There is no dialogue — only stories told with body language, wardrobe and music. The music is delivered by alternating male and female vocalists, two percussionists and canned recordings that would sound better live.

Most of the time, six or more dancers slunk around the stage in a wash of colors, synchronizing in sambas, incessantly switching partners and showcasing sex appeal. The full group routines fuse classic ballroom dances with a pop format, revealing choreographer Jason Glilkison's complex vision of a modern reinvention. Highlights of these tireless numbers include the swinging I'm a Ding Dong Daddy, the West Side Story-inspired Objection Tango and a toe-tapping rendition of Proud Mary.

A handful of stripped-down numbers focus on a solo dancer or a lone couple perfecting the classic art form of ballroom, with elegant evening gowns and structure fans expect after watching Dancing with the Stars. These fleeting gems were show favorites in Tuesday's performance, as they allowed the championed dancers to exhibit their diverse talents. The interpretive rumba, Burn for You, and Viennese Waltz, Let's Face the Music and Dance, received approving applause from the audience. But the real showstopper was the flamenco-influenced tango Tanguera, complete with Spanish garb, capes and breathtaking body control.

The international cast represents Slovenia, Venezuela, South Africa, Australia, Italy, England and the United States. Several members have appeared on So You Think You Can Dance in their respective countries. Former SYTYCD star Karen Hauer sizzled on stage, especially in her blindfolded performance Weather Storm/The Ballroom Boys. Other standout cast members include Kevin Clifton, Keoikantse Motsepe, Santo Costa and Dianne Buswell.

A bit of theatrics, a few risque moments and the sometimes-frenzied two-hour revue passed with such electricity that you might think the dancers would catch fire if they stopped.

Stephanie Bolling can be reached at (813) 226-3408 or sbolling@tampabay.com.

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