Consider the floor burnt…

Courtesy:Marj K @ flickr.com

Courtesy: Marj K @ flickr.com

One of my dilettantish (you know, jack of all trades master of none) interests is dance. I did ballet for eight years as a child (not very well) and have done ballroom dancing on and off since my late teens (not very well); I have tried my hand at folk dancing, English country dancing and, if you count it as dancing, ice-skating (none of these very well either!). All this is to say that I enjoy dance – doing it and watching it – and so tonight we went to see Floorplay, the latest show by Australian ballroom dancing troupe, Burn the Floor. (You can see a You Tube excerpt of an earlier show here).

Australian and World Ballroom Champions, Jason Gilkison and Peta Roby, are the dance inspirations behind the troupe which has been going since the late 1990s. It is a great way for them to carry on their love of dance in their post-competition lives. The dancers are professional and/or competitive dancers from around the world. The show was great fun: it was high energy dancing from beginning to end. Of course, this was not ballroom as I have ever done it. It was the sort of ballroom we saw on Paul McDermott’s Strictly Dancing. The music was recorded but was supplemented by two live percussionists and two singers. This combination of recorded music overlaid with live gave a real boost to the experience. Using live percussion, in particular, is inspired, given that dance is an art form that relies so much on beat and rhythm.

The program covered a wide range of styles from traditional ballroom (like waltz and quickstep) to Latin (like rumba and samba, tango and the paso doble). Thrown in there too were those fun party dances like the jive and jitterbug, but it all moved so fast that only the experts could have picked up all the styles performed. (Note that my categorisation is a lay one – ballroom dancers make much finer distinctions when they describe and group dances). The rather expensive program described “scenes” such as Harlem Nights and Fire in the Ballroom, but knowing this was probably not essential to enjoying the show. There was no real sense of narrative beyond that which is intrinsic to the individual dances themselves: rather, the show is about entertainment and display.

So, what else to say? The costuming was gorgeous, the execution was excellent, and the transitioning from routine to routine was, to use a cliche, seamless. The dancing was sensuous, but appropriately so, though the couple of routines comprising one woman and several men could have some uncomfortable readings. We saw just one slip and it was recovered so well that, if we hadn’t both seen it, I would have thought I’d imagined it.

At the end of the night my toes were tapping and, while I’ll never dance like that, I’m not ready to put away my dance shoes quite yet! It’s time I looked for my next class…

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