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 The Theatreguide.London Review


Burn The Floor
Shaftsbury Theatre   Summer 2010

The Shaftsbury's summer fill-in, before Flashdance arrives in September, is an evening of ballroom dancing in all its forms, charged with the high voltage energy generated by ten dance couples, musicians and a pair of vocalists, who jointly embrace cliché themes and ballroom glitz splashed with befitting tacky extravaganza. There is even a silver disco ball which appears for some dances and disappears in others.

The popular TV show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is a restrained affair when compared to the two hours of steamy embraces, jumps, splits, swirls and hip twisting, as female bare legs and male feet waltz, tango, cha-ch-cha and more.

On stage, there is a nonstop and seamless display of modern variations on traditional ballroom dancing styles, from Viennese Waltz and gliding foxtrot to the rumba and jive. The professional and skilled dancers are, on the whole,  sharp and dazzling in their endless energy and movements - apart from the guest star, Ali Bastian, the 2009 Strictly Come Dancing champion, who seems out of place, struggling to catch up with the rapid moves in the Latin dances.

The Australian-born director and choreographer Jason Gilkison, himself a dancing champion, together with Janet Hine, the costume designer, work to generate a fusion of theatre and ballroom, too often creating baffling scenes like the steamy rumba in which a female dancer is improbably surrounded by six topless and very masculine males and is tossed around blindfolded, creating a mini drama which doesn't make a great deal of sense.

The costumes add to the air of tackiness. Female dancers’ dresses range from flapper fringe-trimmed to bright coloured, clingy sequin dresses, while the males generally wear no tops, exposing muscular chests which occasionally are draped in white shirts to accompany black trousers.

This dance revue, then,  is a mixed bag of scintillating performances and tacky numbers, generating some excitement among the younger members of the audience when it pulls out all the stops of  throbbing rhythms, acrobatic movements and torrid atmosphere.

The lighting, by Rick Belzer, together with the sound, managed by Peter Fitzgerald, sustain the strong ballroom experience through the evening.

Rivka Jacobson

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Review - Burn the Floor - Shafstbury 2010