August is the month for a feel-good dance show. Kate Prince’s excellent hip-hop production Into the Hoods makes a deserved return to the South Bank, the new tango show Tanguera is at Sadler’s Wells, plus there’s Stomp, Tap Dogs, Sweet Charity, Chicago, and umpteen others that will have your feet tapping with their uncomplicated, high-energy appeal.
Ballroom fans are also well looked after with Burn the Floor. which takes a flashy, fast-paced trot through the ever-popular social dance form. There’s no attempt to tell a story, or create characters. In fact, there’s no attempt to do anything except give us a packed, star-spangled succession of ballroom routines, from the waltz, foxtrot and cha-cha to the quickstep and paso doble. The style is very much a punchy, gutsy approach to ballroom. Sophistication and restraint are not things you will find in Burn the Floor. Instead, the 16-strong cast are energetic and enthusiastic. They unashamedly work the audience with their youthful charms, and dance like crazy to keep the pace fast and furious.
Burn the Floor began life as a floor show at Elton John’s fiftieth birthday party back in 1999, which was well before the Strictly Come Dancing phenomenon. It has since grown and evolved, with shows in over 30 countries and 160 cities. It’s now over-seen by the former professional dancer Jason Gilkison, and includes two singers, popular tunes that are played in a mix of live and pre-recorded, and numerous costume changes.
There’s also the American dancer Brian Fortuna and Hollyoaks actress Ali Bastian who became a real-life couple during their stint on the 2009 season of Strictly Come Dancing. The pair are both tall and elegant, and look best together when they waltz. Given she’s not a professional dancer, Bastion does extremely well, although she’s not up to the fast moves of the rest of the cast. These are best described as fire-balls of energy. They blaze onto the stage, and tirelessly perform routine after routine. The only problem is the size of the stage itself, which is too small to accommodate all 16 dancers and allow them to really let rip. Although they never actually bump into each other, they do look cramped and you sense them taking care to keep a safe distance. However, the energy never lets up, and they deserve credit for that.