Remember ‘Dirty Dancing’? And before that there was ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and before ballroom dancing became cool with reality TV there was the real thing – dancers tearing up the dance floor, in international style competitions since 1920. International style competitions involve five Latin American dances and five classic ballroom dances. Borne out of these competitions came the theatre production called ‘Burn the Floor’, and it is currently doing its rounds on South African stages.
‘Burn the Floor: Fire in the Ballroom’ started its South African run at the State Theatre. It is currently heating up Cape Town, at the Baxter Theatre Centre, until June 5. And lastly, it will complete its South African tour in the iZulu Theatre at the Sibaya Casino in Durban from June 8 to June 19.
The original concept of the theatrical dance production grew from an electric display of ballroom and Latin dancing at Sir Elton John’s 50th birthday party in 1997. It was there that the ballroom dance world was opened up to producer Harley Medcalf. His first edition of ‘Burn the Floor’ was launched in 1999.
Now in 2016, it has evolved, and the new South African run of ‘Burn the Floor: Fire in the Ballroom’ has a theatrical rock angle. Think Santana, Janis Joplin, Christina Aguilera and Led Zeppelin.
Choreographed and directed by long-time Australian Latin champion Peta Roby, the international cast of dance champions includes South Africans, Johannes Radebe and Kylee Brown. Born and talent nurtured in South Africa, Radebe started dancing at the age of seven. He is the current reigning South African National Ballroom and Latin American Champion and is a dance trainer for the TV production ‘Strictly Come Dancing SA’. Radebe recently became a recognisable figure in South Africa when he and his celebrity partner, Capetonian Leigh-Anne Williams, were the runners-up in the 2015 season of the TV show.
Peter Tromp caught got the scoop on the Mother City run from RADEBE.
What can audiences look forward to with ‘Burn the Floor: Fire in the Ballroom’, at the iZulu Theatre?
The show is an exhilarating burst of colour and energy with a rebellious nature. It’s a dance extravaganza with two phenomenal singers and talented dancers. It’s ballroom reinvented
Tell us about your role in ‘Fire in the Ballroom’ and the preparations that go along with it.
It’s incredible to be a part of this prestigious company, because we’re encouraged to be ourselves. I have grown as a performer, because I’ve been pushed outside of my comfort zone, learning other styles of dance and because of that willingness to embrace new forms, I’ve found that I’m bringing something different to the show. The lyric/waltz segments have been fused, which adds to the diversity of the show and I’m entrusted with that. We rehearse on a daily basis, morning to early evening plus gym to be able to deliver an outstanding performance every night.
The show is known as the “world’s toughest dance show”. What exactly makes it so tough?
Physically, mentally and emotionally this show is demanding. To persevere through it your love and passion for the art form will have to carry you. It’s not meant for everyone and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
Tell us a little about the other dancers and why audiences should be excited to see these performers in action.
The cast is handpicked, purely because of their look and ability. We’re talking about people who have world titles to their names. These dancers have trained with the best internationally and the level of talent is mind blowing. What is awesome about them is that they live for their work.
Who or what inspired you to pursue dancing as a career?
My encounter with the incomparable Tebogo Kgobokoe changed my life forever. She said to me, “Go out there and be the best dancer you can be,” and because she was a living proof, I learned it was possible to dance and earn a living.
What do you think of the future of dance in South Africa? Do you think we are on a strong footing? And what of the calibre of our dancers?
I see a very bright future for the dancers in South Africa, because there are people who are tirelessly working on changing the face of dance in our country. We have made it to the international scene and the aim remains constant to continue learning and give back, because there’s talent galore here at home.
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