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"Burn the Floor" Heats Up the Longacre Theatre

- Backstage with the Playwrights: Onstage with the Dancers

Salon Ziba

200 West 57th Street
New York, NY
Open seven days a week
Ask for Alonso

Burn the Floor
(Burn the Floor Website)

Presented by Harley Medcalf, Joe Watson,
Richard Levi, Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch,
Marc Routh, Raise the Roof One, Toppall/Stevens/Mills,
Benigno/Klein, Caldwell/Allen, Carrpailet/Danzansky,
Bud Martin, The Production Studio, Schaffert/Schnuck,
And Carrie Ann Inaba
In association with Dance Partner Inc.

Longacre Theatre
220 West 48th Street

Special Guest Stars:
Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovsky

Sharna Burgess, Henry Byalikov, Kevin Clifton, Sasha Farber,
Jeremy Garner, Gordana Grandosek, Patrick Helm, Sarah Hives,
Melanie Hooper, Peta Murgatroyd, Giselle Peacock, Nuria Santalucia,
Sarah Soriano, Damon Sugden, Rebecca Sugden, Trent Whiddon,
Damian Whitewood, Robin Windsor

Vocalists: Ricky Rojas and Rebecca Tapia

Directed and Choreographed by Jason Gilkison
Scenic Design: Ray Klausen
Costume Design: Janet Hine
(Based on original design by John Van Gastel)
Lighting Design: Rick Belzer
Sound Design: Peter J. Fitzgerald
Production Management: Peter Fulbright
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Production Stage Manager: Bruce Bolton
Music Consultant: Charlie Hull
Music Coordinator: John Miller
General Manager:
Frankel Green Theatrical Management/Joe Watson
Assoc. Producers: Dan Frishwasser, Peta Roby,
Nic Notley, Brad Bauner
Creative Consultant: Raj Kapoor

Conductor and Percussion: Henry Soriano
Percussion: Roger Squitero
Saxophone: David Mann
Violin/Guitar: Earl Maneein

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 6, 2009

As a former ballroom dancer, amateur but aficionado, I was looking forward to Burn the Floor, with its Sambas, Cha Chas, Waltzes, and Quicksteps. This two-act, four-themed production, first produced a decade ago in England, consists of twenty-five numbers danced by nine international dance couples, plus “Dancing with the Stars’” Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovsky. This should have been light years above the ballroom shows I’d seen for years, on Friday nights at the dance studio, performed by staff and students. This also should have been light years above the stage shows at Lincoln Center’s “Midsummer Night Swing” events. I anticipated heat, sensuality, ethnicity, dynamism, and magnetic charisma. We got heat. That is, not counting Ms. Smirnoff and Mr. Chmerkovsky, who fascinated and sparked with mutual chemistry and dance expertise. They riveted the eye with rapturous athleticism, whether the rhythms waxed Latin, Swing, or Pop. Sadly, this dare-devil duo leaves the show on August 16.

Music was provided by two live vocalists, Ricky Rojas and Rebecca Tapia, taped recordings, and a small band of percussion, sax, violin, and guitar. Stage scenery included some black steps and disco light effects. The nine dance couples had as much sensual connection as Ken and Barbie Dolls, with a generic style to their choreography and costuming. Dance steps, whether Rumba, Cha Cha, Tango, or Paso Doble all ended up as showy extravaganzas, with women flipped upside down, swept onto torsos, lifted over shoulders, yanked through legs, and tossed into spins. In fact, the vigorous exercises were so overwrought that dancers re-appeared onstage, still heavily perspiring through their shirts and necks. This was truly a fancy workout session, not a mesmerizing dance performance. The audience in the first two rows and aisles should have received plastic ponchos, prior to the opening curtain, with dancers bringing their gymnastics down the aisles and front stage, more than once. There was homogeneity to the male partners, and eye contact only existed between the already applauded Smirnoff-Chmerkovsky duo.

Act I “Inspirations” featured a Viennese Waltz to “Nights in White Satin”, and the dancers’ form was bent back, heads to the side, gazes frozen in space. An American Waltz followed, to “Pastorale”, but, in both, the costumes were formal, throw-away quality, faux-silk silkiness, faux-jeweled shininess. The Samba, to “Magdalena”, that should have had at least a fraction of the authenticity of Brazilian Carnivale, was, rather, swiveling, grandiose-styled gyrations. Act I “Things that Swing”, featured a Quickstep to “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got that Swing”. Here, the choreography was cartoonish and campy, while “The Dirty Boogie”, listed as a combo Jive-Lindy-Swing, wowed the crowd, followed by “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy”, to bring down the first curtain. It should be mentioned that much of the costuming included bare black bras for the women and bare chests for the men, all presented in heavy perspiration.

Act II “The Latin Quarter” featured one Salsa-Samba, to “Sing Sing Sing (with a Swing)”, and at this point I longed for some authentic Mambo mania, some San Juan evocation. But, no, we got Louis Prima, evoking Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa, evoking a small town, international dance studio, à la “Strictly Ballroom”. Worse was the Tango, to “Tanguera”, no Argentinean styled close embrace, not even a good gancho, just more Americana styled party panache. Act II “Contemporary” featured a Rumba to “Burn for You” and the closing Cha Cha to “Turn the Beat Around”, and, at this point, I was ready to fly to San Juan or wait for Havana. During the curtain call, a saving gesture involved introducing the dance couples by name and nationality. This should have happened early on, to infuse some individuality and spotlight some personality for each of the nine international dance couples, from as far away as Australia, England, Russia, and Italy. This is the season when many shows have closed, post-AWARDS, so if you’re looking for high energy entertainment, go see Burn the Floor. Or, better yet, you can pay a fraction of this ticket to see real ballroom dancing at one of New York’s instructional dance studios, which has staff and student performances with authentic charisma and persuasive personality. And, you can even be one of the stars!

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at