“Burn The Floor” is one Hot Tamale!

Burn The Floor is a stunning ballroom dance show that doesn't quit!


Mary Murphy and part of the dance toupe of “Burn The Floor” in San Diego Photo S. Valle

The global cast of 25 young, vibrant, and amazingly talented dancers give it their all during an intense 120 minutes of lightening speed choreography that would likely give the uninitiated a case of whip lash. During its San Diego stop (#6 in a 40-week tour), the dance extravaganza featured our resident dance teacher and champion ballroom competitor, Mary Murphy.  You might know her as the loud judge from a little show called “So You Think You Can Dance.”


Mary Murphy at “Burn The Floor” San Diego. Photo S. Valle

So, can Mary Murphy dance?

Read on to find out.

The techniques featured in this original Broadway show are 10 international style dances split into five Latin American: Rumba, ChaCha, Samba, Paso Doble, Jive, and five ballroom: Waltz, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Tango, and Quickstep. The dances are seamlessly mixed together and explode on stage with bursts of high voltage energy directed and choreographed by Jason Gilkison.

The impeccable synchronicity of the svelte dancer's routines is memorizing as are the exquisite costumes (I was one happy girl watching all that glittering sequence moving about the stage in a glimmering blur!). However, the real reason to watch this show are the back stories, something most don't often get to hear right from the casts' mouth.

In a wonderful post-show Q & A moderated by Executive Producer Harley Medcalf, the dance company sat down for an unhurried session with fans.  Burn The Floor has been heating up theaters nonstop for the last 11 years — this includes not spending Christmas at home for the cast members. It's clear that after all this time the dance troupe is like a large family, and is about to have its first couple, Damon and Rebecca Sugden, become parents in April!

Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello's chemistry on and off the dance floor is as steamy as ever. When asked how Ryan handled the school-yard taunts he must have endured as a child dancer his reply was, “When you end up with the most beautiful girl in the world, the only answer I need to have is right here,” pointing to his wife and dance partner. Aww.

What about the dancing men?  Well, I can only say that I haven't seen a more fit group of guys make dancing the ChaCha look like the most manly thing to do. One of the male dancers told us that the teasing and bullying growing up as a dancer wasn't easy at all, but that it all ended the day he broke someone's nose (his reply was met with approving applause).

Getting back to Mary Murphy — the veteran dancer of this crew and the one most of us in San Diego were excited to see performing live — don't expect the over-enthusiastic evaluator to take center stage on this tour. “The Hot Tamale” leader and her unmistakable bright smile make a few graceful appearances during the first hour and 30 minutes in a couple of waltzes (and in a couple of amazing dresses with one brilliant pair of shoes I covet),  but she does strut her stuff in the end (and we wanted more!).


Dancers at Q&A after “Burn The Floor” in San Diego Photo S.Valle

During the panel, a visibly moved Murphy answered a question regarding her thoughts on the attention ballroom dancing has garnered as a result of the television shows based on the dance routines. “I am so proud of these kids and so grateful to be a part of this show. When I was teaching ballroom, people would ask  me what that was. Nobody knew! So when Jason [Gilkison] asked if I would like to join this cast ( I think I was going over all the things that hurt in my body at the time) I jumped at the chance! I was going to do whatever it took to get on that stage.”

And, in case you were wondering if the sassy dance judge will be back on the hit television show “SYTYCD”, she revealed she is currently in negotiations to come back full time.

If you're a fan of the ballroom dance phenomenon, you'll get a kick out of  Burn The Floor  and watching the live-wire energy it takes to twirl on and off the stage, shimmy in and out of costumes, and the steam rising from the dancers' exertion of achieving what I thought was nothing short of perfection on the dance floor.

In one word, this show is hot!

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