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Broadway Newcomer Burn the Floor Is Not Your Grandfather’s Ballroom

Choreographer Jason Gilkison says that Burn the Floor, the ballroom extravaganza that opens on Broadway this Sunday, is his grandfather’s legacy. It’s a bittersweet story: Sam Gilkison opened Australia’s first ballroom dance school in 1931, and young Jason grew up to be a world champion Latin and ballroom dancer. But the elder Gilkison didn’t live to realize his dream of popularizing ballroom among the general public. When he died 12 years ago, the dance form was considered irrelevant and hopelessly out of date.

“The one thing he always used to say to me was, if something doesn’t change all the time it usually disappears after a while,” said Gilkison, Burn the Floor‘s choreographer and director. “If he was alive today to see ballroom dancing on television and … coming to Broadway, I know he would just be so moved.”

We’ve no doubt that the late Gilkison would have been pleased to witness the phoenix-like rebirth of his beloved art form and his grandson’s role in it. But we do have to add that, after watching a particularly steamy excerpt of Burn the Floor at a recent press preview, the thought of seeing the show with anybody’s grandfather makes us blush.

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Billed as “ballroom dance with a sexy, 21st century edge” (to put it mildly), Burn the Floor is a lively survey of ballroom and Latin dance, including the Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble, jive, samba, mambo, tango, quick step and swing. (The bit we saw involved women in sparkly bra tops gyrating over men slouched in chairs.)

Burn the Floor‘s Broadway run follows a wildly successful world tour and features 18 ballroom and Latin champions from around the globe. The show runs through October 18 at the Longacre Theatre, and special guest stars Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy of Dancing with the Stars fame will perform with the cast through August 16.

Not bad for a show that was originally conceived as entertainment for Elton John’s 50th birthday.

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