Spectacular dance sensation to ‘Burn the Floor’ of Tacoma Dome

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When “Burn the Floor” takes to the stage of the Tacoma Dome for two performances Jan. 24, audience members may want to grab something to fan themselves with because from the looks of things the show is going to be hot, hot, hot. The sexy international dance sensation will make its Western Washington debut right here in Tacoma, and the youthful performers are excited to strut their stuff for dance fans of all ages.

First conceived by producer Harvey Medcalf during Sir Elton John’s 50th birthday celebration in 1997, two years later the show made its world premiere in the United Kingdom and quickly took the globe by storm. Today, with producers Medcalf and former World Champion Latin and Ballroom dancers Peta Roby and Jason Gilkison at the helm, “Burn the Floor” has sold more than three million tickets in more than 140 cities worldwide.

Television viewers may have already seen some of the dancers from “Burn the Floor” performing on the new dance themed reality show “Superstars of Dance,” which made its premiere Jan. 4 and 5 on NBC. Created by “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller and Nigel Lythdoe of “So You Think You Can Dance,” the show features teams of professional dancers from eight countries competing against each other in various dance genres. Gilkison, artistic director and choreographer of “Burn the Floor,” is head coach and spokesperson for Team Australia. Two of his champion ballroom dancers from “Burn the Floor” were selected to compete as a duo for Team Australia, Henry Byalikov and Giselle Peacock.

Seeing the dancers live, though, offers a whole new experience. “Burn the Floor” takes ballroom dancing to a whole new level, adding a good dose of Latin spice and steam to the dances in an electrifying rock and roll arena show combined with the seductive glisten of Broadway style theater. Peacock, a four-time U.S. Latin Dance champion, referred to “Burn the Floor” performers as “the rebels of ballroom dancing.”

Gilkison agreed. “That’s what ‘Burn the Floor’ is about: taking ballroom dancing and giving it a good kick left.” While still paying homage to the essence and technique that make up classic ballroom dancing, “Burn the Floor” reinvents the genre and effectively dispels stereotypical ideas of what ballroom dancing is all about. Encompassing rumba, cha-cha, samba, salsa, waltz, tango, quickstep, swing and jive all amplified with today’s attitudes, “Burn the Floor” ushers in a new era of ballroom dance.

“It’s not your grandparents’ ballroom,” Peacock quipped.

Ever evolving, the 2009 installment of “Burn the Floor” is bolder and better than ever, and just off the heels of a wildly successful tour through Australia, China and London. The show has a fresh, new look, feel and pace complimented by captivating new numbers, dancers, sets and costumes.

The unbridled energies of the cast of 20 dancers from all over the world add the rich flavor. “Because the cast is from all corners of the globe, when you pull all those energies onstage together the result is electric,” Gilkison said.

“I think this is where ‘Burn the Floor’ really differs from something like ‘Lord of the Dance’ or other popular ensemble shows that have come along where you have 20 people looking exactly the same. What we want are 20 people with completely different personalities. I encourage each one to sign their own names on how they do the choreography. That’s what’s exciting about when they all get together onstage. When they react off each other it’s explosive.”

Dancer Patrick Helm hails from Germany. A national and international champion, he said touring with “Burn the Floor” is definitely challenging and “a great life to have. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.”

Both he and Peacock commented on how much they appreciate their audiences. “They’re fantastic,” Peacock said. “In the competitive dance world you put yourself out there to be judged. This is different; this is pure entertainment.”  

Gilkison said a favorite part of the show for audiences and dancers alike is the 1940s swing and jitterbug segment that closes act one. “If there’s one section of the show that sums up what these guys are all about it’s that because it’s lots of fun. The dancing is energetic and fast, and they’re all up onstage reacting off each other.”

Many costume changes are made in this vibrant production, and theatrical lighting choreographed to the dances adds much drama and spectacle. Music is another important component of the show, and includes two live vocalists and two percussionists playing with such passion on huge drum sets that the floor vibrates.

Tickets for the Jan. 24 performances of “Burn the Floor, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., are $29.50-$64.50, on sale now at all Ticketmaster locations, www.ticketmaster.com, the Tacoma Dome box office, or (253) 627-TIXS to charge by phone. Groups of 12 or more should call (253) 593-7617.

Enter to win free tickets to “Burn the Floor” at Studio 6 Ballroom, 2608 Sixth Ave. Entries will be drawn Jan. 22. Dancers in the show plan on making an appearance at the ballroom during the weekend of the show for a possible seminar and a chance to meet some of their fans. Contact Studio 6 for more information, (253) 905-5301.

For more information on “Burn the Floor,” including a gallery of scintillating stage photos, visit www.burnthefloor.com.


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