LIFE IS GOOD ON BROADWAYBurn The Floor opened this month on Broadway to great reviews. The show that toured Australia got picked up by the US and they are loving it. Home grown creator Jason Gilkison spoke with about his journey. Below is a snippet.
I was born into ballroom. My grandfather opened a dance studio in Perth in 1931 after moving to Australia from Scotland. His five children, one of whom was my mother, eventually took over, so it’s in the blood. As a child, I would go the studio on Saturdays and get into mischief with a girl named Peta Roby while our parents taught lessons. Peta and I used to get up and imitate the dancers, so by the time we were seven, my mother said, “We might as well let them dance together.” For the next 35 years, Peta and I competed around the world, eventually becoming first Australians to win the world championship in Latin dance. I have nothing but wonderful memories of growing up in a dancing family, and Peta continues to work with me as the associate producer of Burn the Floor.
Our company got its start after a group of eight couples put together a 15-minute ballroom show for Elton John’s 50th birthday. He was a having a huge masquerade ball and wanted some tongue-in-cheek entertainment. Well, our little floor show got a huge reaction from the A-listers who were there, including producer Harley Medcalf, who asked, “Why hasn’t anybody thought of doing ballroom in a theatrical setting?” Harley took up the challenge himself, and in the 10 years since then, Burn the Floor has been presented with great success in more than 30 countries.
In the beginning, our show toured huge arenas, then we began scaling it down and making it more and more theatrical. The version we’ve brought to Broadway is the most dynamic we’ve done. The dancers are able to feel organically connected to the dances they’re doing, which makes the show a lot more sensual and feisty and raw. It’s like taking a piece of your grandmother’s jewellery and putting it in a modern setting: We wanted to keep the essence and the beauty of dances like the quickstep and the waltz and the excitement of the jive, but show it with the energy and attitude of the dancers in this generation.
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