With the popularity of the TV show Dancing with the Stars in full reign, audiences are catching on to the thrill of dance once more. Australia's Burn the Floor has just made dance the latest fixation for Canadians hungry for the summer heat with their production, Floorplay. While the revealing costumes and suggestive sexuality pushes for the limits, Floorplay manages to not go raunchy with its, er, foreplay.
What was incredible about this production is its audience participation, the breaking down of the fourth wall, and bringing the audience to its feet despite our usual "two left feet" apprehension. Dancers flirted with audience members and prompted them to get up and dance the tango and what lady wouldn't want a chiseled guy to try on her Chanel sunglasses and kiss her hand before hitting the stage once more? Not only is Floorplay interactive in its use of space, either on stage or in the aisles of the audience, but the timing of the dancers movements was flawless. Even while they were throwing up their jackets at the end, or when they were heading back from the audience, they stopped precisely at the same time as the music.
The variety of music itself was made up of two live percussionists on either side of the stage with bongos and drum kits, a male and female singer who also took part in some of the dancing (amazing in the swing dancing sequence!), and a track with the likes of the pan flute and violin to round out the instrumentation. Some recognizable tunes include "You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman)" and "I Just Want to Make Love To You". While they felt a bit campy (think Macarena on a cruise ship), anything else wouldn't have encouraged the audience to sing a long, so they were the perfect choices because we all knew the words.
The costumes encouraged the energy of the dancers with their bright colours, strands of material, starched ruffles, taffeta, and silk gliding through each song with elegance, zest, and dramatic syncopation. Flapper-like threads were a favourite in the opening sequence in a tribal like rhythm and at the end surprising us with silver tinsel strands shaking to Tina Turner's "Rolling Down The River". The dancing itself was the focus of the show and Floorplay sure knew how to master a variety of moves. From the quick step to ballroom to swing to the tango, they had over 20 dances covered in perfect form, showcasing the very history of dance. You'd think they would break an ankle from moving their feet that fast, both the guys and the girls, but they don't, and it makes you appreciate their dedication to their craft for each audience even more. If Floorplay was how we learned the history of dance in school, it would be a class the whole world would sign up for.
Floorplay runs at the Hummingbird Centre from May 10-12, please visit www.hummingbirdcentre.com.
Writer: Lindsay Whitfield