'Burn the Floor' lights up the Cape Town stage
"Burn the Floor" opened at the Baxter Theatre last week, returning to South Africa for the fourth time since 2011.
Its fast-paced choreography and the diverse cultures of the dancers has earned the production a reputation as one of world’s toughest dance shows.
The international cast are hand-picked for their spirit and skill by Peta Roby, who helped establish the Burn the Floor group in 1997.
“We love it here (in South Africa) because the people are so warm and we always get a good mix of men and women in the crowd, which is perfect because we are a couples dance group,” said Roby.
“We’re a group of 95 dancers in the company and I make a different selection for each country we visit because of the cultural diversity each dancer brings.”
South Africans Kylee and Stephen Vincent, who met while working on the show, and singer Lelo Ramasimong are set to perform alongside a cast from the UK, Australia, Italy and Europe.
Roby said what separated "Burn the Floor" from other dance shows was how two dancers, rather than one, were able to tell a story on stage.
“We have wonderful storytelling in these dances and with two people it’s a lot easier to tell stories, but it also resonates with an audience.”
Jorja Freeman, who won Australia’s "Dancing with the Stars" this year, made her debut with the company in South Africa in 2011.
“That was my very first show ever and it’s so exciting to be back in South Africa eight years later. I had no idea or sense of the world back then and now I have so much more sense of the dance industry through all of my travels and I’m also involved in the creating of new shows for Burn the Floor,” said Freeman, 27.
She has been dancing since the age of 3, when her mother enrolled her in ballet classes and studied jazz, tap, musical theatre and ballet before switching to ballroom and Latin dancing.
“My grandma was a dancer and my aunt, so it was always in me to move about but I never liked ballet, it was just too boring for me,” Freeman said.
“I needed music I could sing to and entertain people with, but I was also a bit of an attention-seeker as a kid.”
Her success on "Dancing with the Stars" gave her the confidence to work with different cast members as well as get the best out of them for a performance.
The original concept of "Burn the Floor" developed from a display of ballroom and Latin dancing at Sir Elton John’s 50th birthday party in 1997.
"Burn the Floor" opened in England in 1999 and a decade later, after touring 30 countries and visiting more than 160 cities, it achieved its long-standing goal to bring ballroom to Broadway - appearing at the Longacre Theatre in New York, before two successful seasons in London’s West End.
* "Burn the Floor" runs until August 17, at the Baxter Theatre and tickets are available on Webtickets.