Friday, February 11, 2011

This Ballroom Blitz Is Only Semi-Sweet -- Chicago Theater/Dance Review: Burn The Floor

Theater Review

Burn The Floor
A ballroom dancing revue
Bank of America Theatre
Thru February 13

I admire almost anyone who can do anything really, really well. So in saying that I didn't care for--or perhaps more accurately, about--Burn The Floor, a ballroom dancing showcase that is part of my Broadway In Chicago series, I don't mean it as an indictment of any of the performers involved.

Although I have no point of comparison--I've never even seen Dancing With The Stars--the tight-bodied, often scantily-clad dancers, accompanied by two singers and two drummers, seemed fantastic to me. Albeit at an art form for which I have no particular familiarity or affection.

So while I have no idea if aficionados of ballroom dancing would find anything done in Burn The Floor particularly groundbreaking, nouveau or extraordinary--as befitting its tagline of Ballroom. Reinvented.--all the dancers appeared to my novice eyes extremely adept as they shimmied through a series of cha-cha's, waltzes, rumbas, sambas and other dance styles.

But despite the impressive skill, stamina and versatility of the dancers, and nice work done by vocalists Peter Saul and particularly Vonzell Solomon, I can't deny being rather bored after about 15 minutes into the two hour revue.

Sure some numbers were livelier than others, with the high-energy group routines nicely syncopated, but I never felt anything much more than a detached appreciation.

Photo from Broadway production
In saying that--and with just four Chicago performances remaining I imagine ballroom dancing devotees already have seen the show, or soon will, and nobody else likely needs to--it seems a bit silly to quibble. But some of the song selections--and I believe the music was all canned except for the drum and vocal parts--felt either obvious, odd or obtuse.

Singer Solomon showed nice range in covering "Nights In White Satin," "Sway" (this one) and "Proud Mary," adding a vibe that many instrumental accompanied routines lacked, despite the dexterity of the dancers. Perhaps it reflects how little I know, or care, about the current ballroom dancing scene, but something that seemed missing was a modernized Fred & Ginger routine.

All in all, I am sure that 20 minutes of floor burning accompanied by cocktails at the Copacabana would be quite dazzling, but two hours from the balcony of the Bank of America Theatre was a lot more hot stepping than I really needed.

Thankfully I had switched my ticket from February 1st to last night, as Burn The Floor--at least for me--certainly isn't a show worth traveling through a blizzard to see. If at all.

(This is a video from the Burn the Floor website that should give a good indication of what it's all about.)

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