Dressed only in a bra and flowy organza skirt, a lady makes her way to a man sitting in the fifth row of MBS’s Sands Theatre and gets him to kiss her. Before the show even officially started, that was enough to take the heat up a notch in the frosty hall!

We realize that was Janette Manrara, one of 22 accomplished dancers (who collectively have more than 100 Championship dance wins) who are here in Singapore to bring us Burn the Floor, and to turn our notion of dull-as-paint ballroom dancing on its head.

It was approximately two hours of non-stop (well except for an intermission in between), fast-paced reinvented ballroom action that makes you feel like running on stage to join them. It’s magic that has worked its way across more than 30 countries where the Broadway-West End productions have toured over 14 years.

One moment the dance is upbeat and then suddenly it transits to a slow, graceful waltz, and in another swift action it becomes a fast jive.  And then they spin round and round and round, which leaves you dizzy just watching, but the dancers can still finish with megawatt smiles.

It is this vibrance and energy that Burn the Floor would like to bring to Singapore, said Santo Costa, a male dancer from the cast told UrbanWire. He said, “We pride ourselves on being extraordinary, so even if you’re not a fan of dancing, you’ll be really entertained.”

And entertained we certainly were, as we were brought through different stories in each of the  dances. From familiar tales such as the couple prohibited from getting together because they’re from different backgrounds, we moved to more unreal scenarios of 1 girl being chased by six guys, and the opposite version of that.  Also look out for the occasional dance battles like those in the Step Up series West Side Story, only classier.

All this is portrayed through dance, and a little bit of acting. There is minimal conversation, so it’s mainly facial expressions and hand gestures that give meaning to the dance. The only drawback, then, is that people sitting far away can’t really see these expressions, so for this show, you’re better off paying a bit more to have a closer view.

Although words are seldom spoken, they are sung when the 2 vocalists Peter Saul and Vonzell Solomon croon to the dances.  Expect numbers like Queen of Rock and Roll Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary/Rolling on the River” and The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” which pumps up the atmosphere. Then swoon to ballads such as Cher and Peter Cetera duet “After All”, R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” and John Farnham’s “Burn for You”, and a dance classic “Sway”.

They were accompanied by massive drum sets with more drums and cymbals than a normal set at the back. Naturally, percussionists Henry Soriano and Joseph Malone also switched to instruments like the triangle and bongos for the right effect.

The set design is simple, with only a translucent frame and a design of a starry night sky as the main backdrops, which is to be expected since the stories are so varied, and changes only subtly for some scenes, but nothing is lost and it also proves that it doesn’t always need complicated backdrops to further beautify a performance.

Fancy costumes such as neon-coloured suits knee-length dresses and sailor-themed outfits also stood out in the show, each for a different atmosphere. With each dance, new costumes come out, and reinforcing the message that ballroom dances aren’t always about bling-laden silky gowns with long trains and prim, proper and formal black suits.

As Kallyanne Brown, a female dancer from Australia, told UrbanWire, “We hope we can show Singapore that ballroom dancing is not a dying art form, and definitely for young people. Ballroom dancing in a new era can be fun, full of energy, and sexy.”

However, Burn the Floor is probably not for young children and toddlers unless they have a burning passion for dance, because it takes some maturity to understand and appreciate the various dance items.

Nonetheless, all the dancers exude so much charm and charisma to pull off a spectacular show. Towards the end, you just want them to keep on dancing, but as cliché as they saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

Burn the Floor is showing for a limited time till Oct 14, at the Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands. Tickets start from $55 (excluding booking fees).

All photos courtesy of Base Entertainment Asia and Rebecca Liew.