Australia is lighting up Norwegian Cruise Line’s world in more ways than one at the moment. Fresh from opening its first office in Australia late in 2015, the brand is also showcasing some of the world’s absolute best choreography and music to its guests onboard in the form of ‘Burn The Floor‘, a dazzling demonstration of power, passion and energy.
Requiring every ounce of self-control not to leap out of your chair and get to grooving in the aisle, the ballroom dance production features a suitably energetic cast which leaves audiences seriously doubting the laws of physics and gravity as human bodies are thrown about with seemingly reckless abandon. So subconsciously confident are you in their abilities though that at no stage does any inkling about whether they might all come crashing down ever enter the mind.
Burn The Floor is the brainchild of Sydney-based theatre producer, entertainment promoter (and presumably very restless sleeper) Harley Medcalf, who has coordinated concerts and shows around the world including Queen, Elton John, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart. Credits to his name in the theatre realm include Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, The Male of the Species and The Importance of Being Ernest.
Beginning with a traditional ballroom waltz set in the times of the landed gentry, the opening serves as a swerve from what audiences may have expected. This is short lived as the next scene kicks in with a rebellious bang as grunge rockers kitted in black leather take to the stage. These first two scenes can best be described as Jane Austen meeting Black Sabbath.
Something of a rhythm kicks in thereafter as the sequence turns to a more steady succession of fiery Cuban and Latino ballroom routines, some of which blend in a 1960’s rock and roll element, featuring a leading man or lady on vocals reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins or June Carter Cash. Some scenes hark back to the smoky jazz clubs of Havana or Chicago in the 1940’s with small music troupes led by a scorching leading lady in a cocktail dress and arm-length red gloves.
While most scenes feature an extensive cast collaborating in amazingly well-rehearsed arrangement, the audience is also treated to impassioned individual solo harmonies or duets. For the most part, dancers are moving and jiving to high-energy versions of the Foxtrot, Tango, Pasodoble, Cha Cha and the Samba, among others.
It is easy to remain focused on the dancers throughout the production, but the show wouldn’t be what it is without the efforts of a truly euphonious backing band. Percussion being a crucial element of Latin music, an amazingly talented drummer ably handles his duty through each scene.
No less important are his bass guitarist, lead guitarist and vocalists, all delivering flawless renditions of music including a converted Robbie Williams power ballad and tunes from Carlos Santana, Christina Aguilera, Shakira and even curiously, The Beatles. The show climaxes with an enduring version of Ballroom Blitz which leaves the audience in raptures.
The set doesn’t change throughout the show and resembles suburban Cuban lane ways, spiralling steel staircases and contemporary South American culture. Spotlights work in perfect unison with this band, shifting the audience’s attention to different performers as required and illuminating the star of each particular scene.
The production has been choreographed by Jason Gilkison and long-time dance partner Peta Roby, and has been touring since 1999 before being signed to Broadway in 2009. Guests can now find three editions of Burn The Floor performing for guests on three different Norwegian Cruise Line ships around the world. These include:
- Norwegian Epic – sailing the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona.
- Norwegian Breakaway – cruising to Bermuda and the Caribbean out of New York.
- Norwegian Getaway – departing the Caribbean from Miami.
It must be noted though that if you see Burn The Floor on one particular ship, the show is highly likely to be considerably different on another as it has been tuned to suit the varying cultural expectations and tastes of the market it serves.
Producers told us the version performing on Norwegian Breakaway is the closest to the land-based original which also starred on Broadway. Audiences on Norwegian Getaway in Miami will see a more sultry and sexy version to suit the Floridian heat while Norwegian Epic will present a more theatrical adaptation to suit the Spanish theatre interests.
For a first-time viewer, this show may leave you scratching your head if you try to find a connection between the music, the set and the costumes. Scenes are largely disjointed in this regard. However, if you take each scene as its own independent story, Burn The Floor will leave you inspired, energised and struggling to catch your breath.