“Give ’em the old razzle-dazzle” goes the lyric from “Chicago,” and Broadway Across America’s current dance show “Burn the Floor,” at the Fox through March 27, does that in spades.
Of course it’s not news that the U.S. is in the midst of a dance craze: There’s “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” earning high ratings on television; in addition, Atlanta has been treated lately with some brilliant dancing, courtesy of the great choreographer Twyla Tharp, first with her Tony-winning “Movin’ Out” and more recently her Sinatra-inspired “Come Fly With Me,” which premiered at the Alliance before moving to Broadway. And the Fox just hosted a breathtaking revival of “West Side Story.”
If you missed these shows, fret not. It may not have a real plot, but for sheer dance power, “Burn the Floor” will knock your socks off. The show has been tangoing around the globe since 1999, toured to about 30 countries, and had a Broadway run in 2009. But it seems its popularity is peaking right now.
So what is it, you ask? Cast member and former “So You Think You Can Dance” star Karen Hauer says, “Two hours of 20 dancers, two percussionists, and two vocalists showing you the real deal.” Actually there are four live musicians with much of the music recorded, but it works. And what is the real deal? Imagine “Dancing With the Stars” with no klutzy partners, but instead every single dancer a world-class professional like Ms. Hauer, Anya Garnis, and Pasha Kovalev, all alums of “So You Think.”
“Burn the Floor” features “international style” ballroom dancing, including the waltz, foxtrot, tango, ragtime, and quickstep. The five Latin dances: the cha cha, samba, paso doble, rumba (the program notes sedately that the rumba is a dance of lust; let’s just say that words are inadequate), and the jive.
But these are just so many words; it’s really impossible to describe the visceral, sensual, joyous experience that is “Burn the Floor.” There’s something very moving about seeing these beautiful young people do—live and in person—what only a handful of people on the planet can do. No, Virginia, you can’t and won’t ever dance the way they do. But that’s okay: It’s why we have empathy, imagination, and identification. And they’ll take you out of this world (get good seats if you can). MGM in its heyday used to say it had more stars than heaven; I would say there are more abs on that stage than is decent; you be the judge.
Also featured is vocalist Vonzell Solomon; she was second runner-up in Season 4 of “American Idol,” and she is excellent, as is Peter Saul. The technical aspects of the show, especially lighting (Rick Belzer), are slick and stunning. The production is in four segments: Inspirations, Things That Swing, The Latin Quarter, and Coda. “Burn the Floor” is directed and choreographed by Jason Gilkison.
If you love dance, this show is a can’t-miss. The performers work hard for the money, as Ms. Summer would say, and you’ll probably fall in love—two or three times.