I’m pretty sure the TV dance competition craze led to the latest Broadway offering now playing at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. And I’m also pretty sure that’s not a bad thing. When the TV staple So You Think You Can Dance hit summer airwaves a number of years ago, attention was turned from the all American singing idol to all things dance. While not an immediate hit, SYTYCD (as the insiders like to call it) has a built in reputation and popularity thanks to some egocentric judges, amazing choreography and incredibly talented amateur dancers. (There’s no way you can fake your talent, here.) Then ABC revived it’s '70s staple [Blanking] with the Stars (remember Circus of the Stars?) and came up with a dance version which pairs Z-list “celebrities” with real-life dancers who tromp their way through simple routines set to bad karaoke music.
While I’m not a fan of ABC’s offering, it did open America up to the beauty and athleticism of dance. Which is what will make Burn the Floor so damn popular.
Basically two hours of Cha-Chas, Rumbas, Waltzes, etc., etc., Burn the Floor is simply “A Night of Dance!” Featuring eighteen dancers and two singers, the cast careens around the Pantages stage like they own the place. And for the running time of the show, they do. The stage is spare and black with a small staircase rising in the back that leads up to the two soloists who take the stage every once in a while to offer a little bit of song amidst the plies. A drummer and percussionist inhabit the rear of the stage adding that extra beat that keeps the night moving swiftly. Add to that a myriad of costume changes and dance styles and Burn the Floor rages through the auditorium like a tornado of fast-moving beauty all performed by a cast that is distractingly good-looking.
Beginning with nine numbers encompassing a variety of inspirational styles from the Cha-Cha to the Viennese Waltz to the Jive, Foxtrot, Lindy and Samba, here is where we meet our talented dancers and reflect on the types of dance we’ll be treated with throughout the fast-moving evening. The second half of the first Act is the best part of the night with a “Things That Swing” section featuring five numbers that encompass the styles of the Swing era. This portion of the night is fast and fun and brings the house down in a way that had the audience roaring.
Act Two is all about the Latin inspiration including a Salsa, Tango, and Paso Dobles. The last part of the evening combines many of the evening’s styles in an orgiastic celebration of all things dance. Wait’ll you catch their interpretation of “Proud Mary!” Not only was it inspirational but literally brought the audience to their feet.
Fans of SYTYCD will be happy to see fan favorites “Anya & Pasha” taking center stage as the “stars” of the production and their talent never wavers. But that doesn’t take away from the rest of the cast which has its own standouts in Kevin Clifton and Giselle Peacock (all fiery passion) in a few solo numbers together, Karen Hauer featured as a sort of Indian Princess pursued by four men and Aljaz Skorjanec and Santo Costa dueling each other in a Paso Doble.
Backing up the dancers are two vocalists: Peter Saul and Vonzell Solomon who are amazing in their own right, adapting to various styles and wowing the crowd with their incredible instruments.
While Burn the Floor might not be the be-all and end-all of dance shows, it is by all means a fun and rousing evening with hot choreography, hot dancing and even hotter dancers. For boys and girls, gay or straight, the eye-candy is as dazzling as the quick steps. The show closes May 8, so you better get to the Pantages now before they burn the stage to ash!
Burn the Floor plays Monday through Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Photo by Joan Marcus