I recently saw Black Swan, a new film about a neurotic ballet dancer who descends into paranoid madness. It made me wonder why anyone would pursue a career in dance. Watching Burn the Floor, a company of exuberant dancers on tour — and on fire — who obviously revel in movement, I had my answer.
There’s nothing emaciated or delicate about these 21 dancers, complemented by two singers and two percussionists. (The score is pre-recorded but reproduced with clarity and emotion.) In fact, this show of “dance-sport” is about beautiful curves and well-defined musculature. And lots of gorgeous skin, accentuated by beautiful, often minimal costumes that change continuously, sometimes startlingly. If you’re a student of human anatomy and what it can do, Burn the Floor is worth seeing.
The show employs 10 styles that comprise international ballroom dancing, but this production distills those forms into high-level performance.
The dancers interpret 25 numbers as breathtaking extravaganzas of movement, music and throbbing visuals. From the elegance of waltzes and foxtrots in flowing gowns to the steam of salsa, tango and samba and the joy of jive and swing, Burn the Floor showcases dances and moments designed to evoke gasps and applause, especially a stunning flip finish to a first-act rumba number by the show’s featured couple Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello.
Vocalist Peter Saul applies serious voltage to “I’m a Ding-Dong Daddy,” the first act’s finale with dancers doing quickstep and swing in the aisles at the Aronoff Center, and then steam to a voluptuous second-act rumba number, “Burn for You,” featuring Kevin Clifton in a white, sleeveless T-shirt and Janette Manrara wearing a man’s white dress shirt. Vonzell Solomon, a past American Idol runner-up, brings the house down with an electric rendition of “Proud Mary” as the show’s penultimate number.
BURN THE FLOOR, presented by Broadway Across America, continues at the Aronoff Center through Sunday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.