The Baxter’s Foyer was a bustle of excitement and anticipation, a usual for opening nights. However, we spotted a lone actor roaming the floor and greeting guests with subtle smiles and bows, while outfitted in 18th century royal attire and donning a powdered wig. It was a bit confusing with the lack of context. Were we not here for spicy Latin dancing?
But as we entered the theatre and the curtains were raised, we were instantly transported into an extravagant ballroom during the times of Johann Strauss II, and I understood the reference. ‘Blue Danube’ filled the room, and we were mesmerised by flamboyant hoop skirts, raised hair, opulent chandeliers and of course, the Waltz – one of the many dance styles performed in Burn the Floor.
Ballroom dance is recognised globally as a competitive sport or Dancesport and, in total, comprises of 10 dances. Burn the Floor, which has been running for 15 years now, perfectly balances these traditional and very technical styles with the sizzling flare and sex appeal that audiences want out of ballroom show. The same can be said for the cast, as each of them have dedicated their lives to training and competitions, yet are also able to evoke emotion with their movement, facial expressions and energy.
My eyes are always drawn to female dancers (perhaps because I wish I could so effortlessly flick my leg above my head). So for me, Dianne Buswell from Australia, and South African dancer Kylee Brown were exceptional and utterly electrifying in their performance. With that being said, what myself and the people around me deemed as the ‘Magic Mike’ scene was hard to look away from. What’s a ballroom show without an all-male, shirtless dance-off?
A refreshing aspect was the absence of clear lead roles. Each of the dancers had opportunities to showcase their strengths, whether it was through their precise footwork in the Quickstep, jaw-dropping lifts, powerful Paso Doble or stunningly fluid Samba rolls.
Apart from the raw, passionate and hard-hitting numbers, some of my favourites included the more sensual and lower tempo pieces. With the backdrop creating the scene of a cobblestone street at night, two couples danced the Rumba, known as “the dance of lust”, in fluid movements under a vintage street lamp. Dressed in identical costumes and situated on two opposite ends of the stage, they were in perfect unison, which created a surreal mirror effect, as well as numerous ripples of goosebumps on my arms.
Two extraordinary vocalists, Mikee Intona from Italy and Lelo Ramasimong from South Africa, added yet another dynamic to the production as they sang a good portion of the tracks live. It was great to see their involvement with the dancers as well: Intona embodied smooth and groovy while Ramasimong belted with power and finesse, all while immersed in the whirlwind of flying legs and tassels.
The School’s Out scene was something I could have done without. Though the dancing was just as feisty and entertaining as the rest of the show, I may have been fed too much High School Musical and Britney Spears’ ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ in my early years. Seeing those mini checkered skirts paired with a shirt and tie was just a tad too cliché for my liking.
Nevertheless, as an audience member, I had an absolute party in my seat, coupled with moments of quietly sitting wide-eyed and in awe of the tremendous talent and production. Burn the Floor – Fire in the Ballroom was devoid of literal flames, but overflowing with a love and passion for dance and fun.
Burn the Floor – Fire in the Ballroom runs at the Baxter Theatre until 5 June 2016.