Ballroom show to hit Broadway amid dance popularity

Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:37pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After performing in more than 30 countries, ballroom dance company "Burn The Floor" debuts on Broadway on Sunday with producers saying the time -- and the timing -- is right.

Reality TV dance competition shows such as "Dancing with the Stars," "So You Think You Can Dance" and "America's Best Dance Crew" and movies such as "Step Up" are watched by millions and dance schools have seen an increase in students.

"Maybe 10 years ago (ballroom dancing) didn't have much street cred," said Jason Gilkison, who started with "Burn The Floor" as a dancer when it was founded in London in 1999. He is now the company's choreographer and director.

"But now to see your favorite celebrity do it on TV you can go out and learn swing and salsa. All of a sudden everyone seems to be dancing," he said. "When we first started the show 10 years ago it was the blue rinse set and now when we were in Japan last time it was screaming teenagers."

"Burn The Floor" producer and founder Harley Medcalf and Carrie Ann Inaba, also a producer of the Broadway show and a judge on "Dancing with the Stars," both said "the time is right" for a ballroom dancing production on Broadway.

"If you said to someone a couple of years ago 'What's the Paso Doble?' they would have been like 'what?'" said Medcalf, referring to a dance style modeled on a Spanish bullfight. "But now through the reality TV shows everyone is educated and they can see the dimension and the meaning (of dance)."

The program for "Burn The Floor," which will perform an initial three-month run on Broadway, also explains the different styles of dance performed in the show.

"What America and the world is learning when you watch great choreography and great dancers perform great choreography it's just beautiful," said Inaba.   Continued...

<p>Cast members of the new Broadway dancing show "Burn The Floor" perform during a media preview in New York July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>