Sunday, March 6, 2016

BURN THE FLOOR - FIRE IN THE BALLROOM


Produced by - Harley Medcalf,
Directed by -   Peta Roby
Choreographed by 
      - Jason Gilkinson and Peta Roby
Scenery design - James Kronzer
Costume design
            - Bret Hooper, Sharon Brown
Lighting design - Scot Rogers
Sound Design  -  Derek Wilson
Canberra Theatre – March 1st 2016

Reviewed by Bill Stephens








Seventeen drop dead gorgeous dancers, trim, taut and terrific in extravagant, sassy costumes; live singers and musicians augmenting the driving soundtracks; striking and inventive choreography together with brilliant lighting are just some of the reasons which make “Burn the floor – Fire in the Ballroom” such a memorable dance experience.  

Productions of “Burn the Floor” have been touring the world since 1999, so there’s been plenty of time to get the format right. This brand new production nails all the elements, hones each to perfection, and raises the bar significantly for the genre.
   
The show is performed on a multi-level setting, which, with the help of clever lighting, transitions seamlessly from Viennese ballroom to steamy Latin nightclub, and even the streets of Seville, while providing plenty of room for the succession of tightly choreographed ensemble routines, allowing the show to move at such break-neck speed that by interval the audience is left wondering how the dancers will be able to maintain the pace.

"Burn the Floor" dancers performing "Hips Don't Lie" 

But maintain it they do, even surpassing what has gone before. High energy hardly seems an adequate description for this troupe of brilliantly accomplished dancers. The routines are tightly rehearsed and impeccably executed with breath-taking precision.

 Each dancer quickly establishes a stage personality within the ensemble, and all understand the backstories which propel these routines beyond simply being complicated dance numbers.  They become miniature ballets performed within the movement repertoire of ballroom and dance sports.


The steps and moves associated with Viennese Waltz, Quick Step, Foxtrot, Rhumba, Jive and Latin can all be spotted in the brilliant routines devised by Gilkinson and Roby, but in this show featured in surprising and unexpected combinations.  A well-chosen soundtrack of familiar songs, cleverly re-interpreted in new arrangements, is sung live by Sharnielle Hartley, Mikee Introna and Jessica Longotti, who also get to wear some amazing costumes. 

Two brilliant guitarists, Marc Aliana and Miki Santamaria, and percussionist, Pat Madden are also imaginatively woven into the presentation, sometimes  highlighting a featured adagio or adding additional drama to a particular routine.

But it is the seventeen dancers, drawn from around the world,  who command the show, and leave you in awe of their individual dance skills, and how brilliantly these skills have been  showcased by Gilkinson and Roby, into an exciting spectacle which makes “Burn the Floor – Fire in the Ballroom”  such and entertaining and memorable production.



   
This review also appears in Australian Arts Review - www.artsreview.com.au


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