I must admit that I had no great hopes for Burn The Floor at the Shaftesbury Theatre. As someone with two left feet, who doesn’t know their Cha Cha from their Foxtrot, the prospect of an evening of watching people dance was uninspiring to say the least. So when I found myself leaping to my feet with the rest of the audience to give the sweaty, exhausted performers a standing ovation, I was as surprised as anyone.
I went in expecting a “Strictly” style set of dances set to canned chart hits by people in spangly lycra. What I got was a mad, frenzied romp through the golden ages of jazz and jive, swing and samba with barely a pause between them for the dancers – or the audience – to catch their breath, all set to a live band and two fantastic singers who are as much a part of the action as the dancers themselves. I was right about the spangly lycra though.
There is no story as such; rather a set of sketches illustrated in dance. Hopeless romantic love, flaming desire, jealousy, despair, were all brilliantly conveyed by the performers, whose energy and athleticism was literally breathtaking.
Costumes, music and atmosphere all changed in the blink of an eye, and although the stage was small and the dancers were many they were so professional and slick that they never seemed to be in danger of a crash. All of the space was used, including the balconies and the aisles, and the performers drew the audience into their glamorous world. They made it all look so effortless that I actually found myself for one moment thinking madly – I could do that! Then reason prevailed, and I had to acknowledge that if I ever tried I would be in hospital in traction within five minutes. And the ladies were doing it all in stiletto heels! Some pieces were incredibly sexy – a throbbing, blind-folded rumba in particular – and some were wonderfully, refreshingly silly. There seemed to be something for everyone, which was good, as the audience was made up of a surprising variety of people.
The first half seemed to have a little more passion and fun to it than the second, and I think maybe the mournful Daniel Bedingfield number was a mistake, it felt so out of sync with the rest of the night. But they pulled it together at the end with a barnstorming take on Ballroom Blitz which had even a reserved British audience on their feet, clapping, cheering and swaying.
I couldn’t tell you if some dancers were better than others; to me they were all awe inspiring and each one seemed to give every ounce of themselves in their performance. They danced their hearts out, they charmed, they entertained and they gave us all a great evening. And while I still can’t tell my pasodoble from my waltz, I have a new-found respect for and appreciation of the art of dance.
Review of Burn The Floor by Genni Trickett
Running Time: 2 hours
11th March 2013