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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Burn The Floor
Shaftsbury Theatre Spring-Summer 2013

Like Midniught Tango, which passed through London earlier this year, this is a perennially touring all-dance show here for a season before continuing around the world. 

Colourful, often exciting, almost always a pleasure to look at, it is the ultimate tired-businessman show, as you don't even have to think hard enough to follow a plot.

It presents itself as a celebration of ballroom dance but although the programme identifies each number as waltz, foxtrot, tango or whatever, what you see bears little relation to what goes on on a typical dance floor, and it's notable that the most crowd-pleasing numbers, like a Tina Turner-flavoured Proud Mary, don't even pretend to be ballroom. 

Director-choreographer Jason Gilkison typically takes a couple of basic steps or sometimes just the rhythm of a rumba or whatever, and elaborates them into showy theatre dancing, far closer to what you might see in A Chorus Line or Top Hat than what ordinary people do. 

And that, of course, is the attraction – a stageful of highly trained dancers raising what the rest of us do to an art form. 

The nominal stars of the show are Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihanoff, multiple championship-winning dancers in their own right but best known as two of the staff dancers on TV's Strictly Come Dancing, the professionals who partner the celebrities and make them look good. 

But so high is the standard of dancing in the rest of the cast that Windsor and Rihanoff do not stand out, nor are they given any special prominence. So unless you recognise their faces from TV, you may not be able to spot them in the crowd.

(Hint: he's one of the two shaven-headed guys and she's one of the three blondes. Beyond that you're on your own.) 

Jason Gilkison's choreography is at its best when he's dealing with solos and couples – a stage full of dancers is occasionally just cluttered. He has the taste to borrow from (or salute) the best among his predecessors, and passing quotations from Jerome Robbins, Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse (inevitably), Susan Stroman and others blend in easily with his own steps. 

About half the numbers are accompanied by vocals from Vonzell Solomon and/or Peter Saul Blewden, and the whole is backed and driven by a percussion-heavy live band (two drummers, guitarist and pianist).

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review -   Burn The Floor - Shaftsbury 2013

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