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Production

FloorPlay

Company

Burn the Floor

Reviewer

Stephanie Burridge

Date

28/08/2007

Time

8.00pm

Place

Esplanade Theatre

Rating

***1/2

High Voltage Shimmying

If the Burn the Floor group set out to entertain the audience with a free flow of energy, suggestive sexuality and Latin grooves, it certainly succeeded in its latest production FloorPlay. At the start of the show, the dancers came down from the stage to entice willing viewers into a seductive number in the aisles. This set the tone for the evening, which continued to the beat of the salsa, jive and rumba, interspersed with snatches of classic ballroom dances.

FloorPlay situated the dancers in Harlem Street, a bar, a nightclub and other settings; the women togged in glittery body-hugging costumes, the men in ripped jeans and suits. While there was some variation within each of the dances, they mostly faced the audience as a group, instead of partnering one another in the manner of competitive ballroom dancing. The impact of the group was electric, but some of the intricate footwork and precision - the mark of ballroom champions - got lost in the chaotic outpouring of energy. After a while, this "shimmy and boogie" formula became repetitive.

The show had some magical moments. In act one, for example, Jessica Raffia showcased her high extensions and brilliant sense of timing in Leading Me On, a sensuous dance with the men in the cast. Act two drew on the tango and paso doble for Fire in the Ballroom, which included a spectacular cape-whirling scene for the men and lots of strutting and pouting in Spanish poses for the ladies.

Other variations came in segments about the history of ballroom dancing - these included film footage and examples of traditional ballroom steps, ably performed by Damon and Rebecca Sugden. It was these gentler moments - danced with precision, perfect posture and skill - that let the show (and the audience) breathe. They gave respite from the relentless energy that was almost trying too hard to be entertaining.

The choreography by former world ballroom dance champion Jason Gilkison clung steadfastly to the Latin side of ballroom dancing and rarely delved into the waltz, quickstep or foxtrot. For me, this was a disappointment and resulted in a show that had little time for variation, emotional nuance and artistry. The dancers were highly skilled athletes who could afford to tackle more emotionally complex choreography that might have given the show more light and shade.

FloorPlay was extremely slick, with live music by percussionists Henry Soriano and Jo Malone, while singers Keiron Kulik and Rebecca Verrier provided live vocals. With great lighting, a top cast and fabulous dancing, it would be interesting to see a greater degree of choreographic risk and complexity to support the excellent dancers and production values.


"It was the gentler moments - danced with precision, perfect posture and skill - that let the show (and the audience) breathe"

Credits

Director and Choreographer: Jason Gilkison

Vocalists: Keiron Kulik and Rebecca Verrier

Percussionists: Henry Soriano and Jo Malone

Dancers include Jessica Raffia and Robin Windsor, Damon and Rebecca Sugden, and the company

More Reviews by Stephanie Burridge

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.