Burn the Floor
Ballroom dance heats up Broadway.
Tue Aug 4 2009
SHIRT SO GOOD Sharna Burgess roughs up Patrick Helm; Photographs: Kevin Berne
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
If, as George Bernard Shaw quipped, dance “is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire,” then the cast of Burn the Floor is one horny bunch. Come to think of it, these grinding, sweating, limb-tangling hoofers might be killing two birds with one stone: cha-cha-cha-ing their asses off while also turning each other on. In any case, spectators who want to see 20 extremely fit ballroom specialists in a two-hour workout, this is your show. Burn the Floor executes its moves perfectly: It’s a heart-pounding, sexed-up showcase of splendid dance and gorgeous dancers.
Director-choreographer Jason Gilkison finds a nice balance of kitsch and class (more so than in the TV precursor, Dancing with the Stars). While beef- and cheesecake abound, there are sensitive Rogers-Astaire routines for the adorable married couple Damon and Rebecca Sugden. Blond duo Peta Murgatroyd and Damian Whitewood dispense with niceties in their agitated rumba numbers, full of impatient pawing and crotchcentric domination poses. The program gets off to an amiable, if faintly ridiculous start, with Gilkison giving us the ballroom equivalent of The Lion’s King’s “Circle of Life.” But instead of giraffes and wildebeests promenading to the stage, we have scantily clad performers striking hyperbolic poses in the aisles, their chiseled features twisted in a rictus of preorgasmic intensity.
DWTS’s Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy are the supposed headliners, but there’s plenty of talent to go around, including singers Ricky Rojas and Rebecca Tapia, who deliver American Idol--ized covers of pop tunes. The structuring concept is chronological: The 20th century whizzes by decade by decade, ’40s jazz ceding to ’50s bebop and so forth. By the end, the ensemble reaches its remarkable zenith of energized synchronization to Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary.” Like the titular riverboat, these astonishing dancers seem like perpetual-motion machines.—David Cote
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