You might say ballroom dance is enjoying a sort of renaissance. Hit television shows like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance have rocketed the form back into the public eye. Also in that category is the Broadway hit Burn the Floor, which returns to Heinz Hall Dec. 28-Jan. 2, courtesy of PNC Broadway Across America.
For nearly a decade, the Australia-originated production has been one of the hottest touring dance shows out there. A theatrical take on the genre, the show is not your grandparents' ballroom dance, says director and choreographer Jason Gilkison. Still, "When the show first came out the audience was a typical ballroom-dance audience, 60 and above," admits Gilkison, speaking by phone from Australia. "Now because of shows like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, our demographic has changed and we are getting a whole new generation of younger audience members."
Influenced by the TV hits, Burn the Floor got a redo four years ago to attract today's more educated dance audiences.
Think Dancing With the Stars meets Broadway, but without all those pesky amateur dancing stars. What audiences will see are cream-of-the-crop ballroom-dance professionals in a show that is a lot sexier and more exhilarating than anything on TV.
One dancer appearing in Pittsburgh will be Dancing With the Stars pro Mark Ballas, who has won the show several times, and was most recently paired with Bristol Palin.
"What's fun about Burn the Floor is you can really go for it and cut a rug with fellow pros," says Ballas, talking from Raleigh, N.C., the first stop on his three-week stint with the tour. "I think it is the cleanest and fastest ballroom show out there."
The show is a mix of dances in the "international style," which covers everything from Viennese waltzes and foxtrots to jives and tangos, all set to classic music.
"We still have a lot of the same scenes from the original show, like a Harlem scene and a Latin Quarter, because they are typical of ballroom-dancing genres," says Gilkison. "But we updated the choreography to make them more modern."
Adding to the show's theatrically are live vocalists, including American Idol alum Vonzell Solomon (a.k.a. "Baby V").
I reviewed the original Burn the Floor four years ago. It was a steaming, no-holds-barred winner even then; now it is sure to have pulses racing off the charts.
"It is definitely sensual," says Gilkison. "It seems to happen when young dancers are in heated rumbas, cha-chas and sambas -- those sentiments seem to come out quite easily."
Burn the Floor Tue., Dec. 28-Jan. 2. Heinz Hall, 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $21-$57. 412-392-4900 or www.pgharts.org.