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For the first time on African soil, the global ballroom dance sensation Burn the Floor will have a five-week season in Joburg, performing traditional waltzes and hot Latin numbers.
PRAISES will drum joyfully from the Nelson Mandela Stage to welcome the Burn the Floor Broadway dance company to Africa and bless the theatre.


Hot dancePassionate drama of danceImbongi – a Zulu praise singer – Freedom Mswane and drummer Mfundo Msibi will give the company of 25 members a traditional welcome to South Africa, at the invitation of Bernard Jay, the chief executive officer of the Joburg Theatre Complex.

A Latin and ballroom dance extravaganza, Burn the Floor will be on stage at the theatre for five weeks from 14 July to 14 August. It will be the global sensation’s first season on African soil, and the first time that an original cast from Broadway is appearing on a South African stage.

Jay thought that this moment should be given its time and place in the country’s theatre history, and so he invited Mswane to welcome the visitors.

At 1.30pm on 14 July, the company will be called for its first rehearsal at the Nelson Mandela Theatre. As the dancers rehearse, Mswane will enter from behind the auditorium and start his specifically written “Praise Poem”.

He will recite it in Zulu and then in English to welcome the honoured overseas performers and also to bless the Mandela Stage.

Drama of dance
According to the Joburg Theatre Complex, in Burn the Floor, the audience is taken on a journey through the passionate drama of dance: “from Harlem’s hot nights at The Savoy, where dances such as the lindy, foxtrot and Charleston were born, to the Latin Quarter where the cha-cha, rumba and salsa steamed up the stage”.


High-flyingExpect breath-taking dance movesExecutive Mayor Parks Tau and the member of the mayoral committee for community development, Chris Vondo, are expected to attend the opening show.

They will also feel “the elegance of the Viennese waltz, the exuberance of the jive, the intensity of the paso doble – audiences will experience them all, as well as the tango, samba, mambo, quickstep and swing”.

It took Jay some years of relentless negotiations for Burn the Floor finally to be staged in Joburg, as the show is in high demand globally.

However, he says, he was determined to secure the show for local audiences. It was at a late night dinner with the show’s creator and producer, Harley Medcalf, after a performance on Broadway in October 2009, he was able to persuade the company to come to Joburg.

Recognised today as a competitive ballroom dance, sometimes referred to as dancesport, in the show, 10 dancers perform a “closed ballroom” hold. The dance style used in Burn the Floor is called “international style”, and has been danced since 1920.

International style ballroom dance consists of 10 dances, split into five ballroom dances and five Latin dances. Each Burn the Floor performer has spent a number of years training to compete in the art, and this show demonstrates their passion for dance.


The Ballroom BoysThe Ballroom BoysThe waltz is a ballroom dance with a basic pattern of step-step-close; the Viennese waltz is the oldest of ballroom dances, coming from France in 1559.
The foxtrot is a slow dance characterised by smooth, gliding movements. The tango, which originated in Argentina, was brought to Paris in 1910. It combined the posture of other ballroom dances. The quickstep is an international style of ballroom dance that is similar to a fast foxtrot.

Latin dances are the cha-cha, a Cuban dance; the samba, a ladies’ dance celebrated in Brazil; the paso doble, a Spanish dance based on bull fighting and using marching steps; the rumba, a slow dance; and the jive, which is based on jazz and improvisation.

For the past 12 years the company, made up of World Championship dancers, singers and musicians has been touring the globe with successful seasons on New York’s Broadway in 2009 and London’s West End in 2010.

It maintains the traditions and social history of the ballroom dance art form, while incorporating today’s generation of dancers.

Burn the Floor is on at the Mandela Theatre from 14 July to 14 August. Tickets start at R195 each, and are available on the theatre’s website or through its call centre on 0861 670 670.

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