No doubt about it: America is captivated by dancing at the moment. The proof is all over TV — in the form of current reality hits “Dancing With The Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and ”America’s Best Dance Crew” — and in theater houses nationwide — where productions like “Riverdance,” “Stomp” and “Tap Dogs” regularly play to sold-out audiences. In fact, at the time this piece was being prepared “Riverdance” had only days ago concluded a week-long run in Charlotte.
Now, after just two weeks to catch our collective breath, another dancing smash is poised to open in the Queen City. This one, called “Burn the Floor,” has most recently been thrilling audiences at San Francisco’s Post Street Theatre with its edgy, rebellious take on Ballroom and Latin dancing.
The movement in “Burn the Floor” is a high-voltage mix of Rumba, Cha-Cha, Samba, Salsa, Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Swing and Jive. A cast of 16 award-winning dancers — including Australian Ballroom dance champions and World Latin American champions — has been assembled from around the globe to bring the show’s set pieces to pulse-pounding life. The production is rounded out with two percussionists and two vocalists who perform live during various numbers.
The idea for “Burn the Floor” grew from a display of Ballroom and Latin dance the show’s Australian-born creator Harley Medcalf experienced at Sir Elton John’s 50th birthday gala in London in 1997. He eventually partnered with former World Champion Latin and Ballroom dancers Peta Roby and Jason Gilkison to produce the project.
Gilkison, the show’s artistic director, is also its choreographer — a position he likewise held on “So You Think You Can Dance” last season and on the NBC series “Superstars of Dance,” which aired earlier this winter. He told dance legend Rita Moreno backstage after the San Francisco premiere of “Burn the Floor” that he had the cast watch her work in the film “West Side Story” to see “perfection.”
The icon returned the compliment in a gush of superlatives, Leah Garchik reported in the San Francisco Chronicle: “She dropped to her knees to kowtow to them, keeping up a stream of praise: ‘You’re astonishing’; ‘You’re amazing’; ‘Who wants a kiss?’; ‘You’re going to run forever, if you live’ (the routines are strenuous, to put it mildly); ‘How wonderful you are’; ‘Bravo, bravo.’”
Audiences in Charlotte can judge for themselves when “Burn the Floor” swings into the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center March 24 with shows scheduled through March 29.
For more information, see the display ad in this issue or visit www.burnthefloor.com. To purchase tickets, call the BPAC box office at 704-372-1000.