WHEN Perth choreographers and ballroom dance partners Peta Roby and Jason Gilkison agreed to work on producer Harley Metcalf’s theatrical dance performance Burn the Floor 20 years ago, they thought it was just another experience, not a career-defining moment.
“Of course Jason and I had aspirations of our own dance company and to put ballroom dancing into theatre, so it was definitely the objective that we wanted, but we thought it would just be a job call,” Roby said.
“It’s a huge milestone and so unexpected that we’ve filled 20 years of ballroom dancing in theatre.”
Burn the Floor went on to blitz Broadway, the West End, the cruise ship industry and anywhere else it toured, redefining audience perceptions of ballroom dance.
The success meant Roby moved to the more convenient base of Italy with her husband and Burn the Floor executive producer Nic Notley.
She has returned home to Perth for Burn the Floor XX 2018 rehearsals, ahead of the Regal Theatre 20th anniversary celebratory season and 10th world tour.
“I think the reason we’ve survived 20 years is that we’ve continued to move with the times,” Roby said.
“I think a day without learning is a sad day. Dance has changed so much and it’s moved so fast, particularly in the past 10 years.
“And I’m so lucky that even though I’m not young anymore, I’m involved with a lot of young people who are experimenting with dance, so for me I learn every day because of that.
“I think the gift is working with young people who are passionate about not only ballroom dancing but also dance. That era has moved on from just being a ballroom dancer and the skill set is so much larger from when I was dancing. The efficiency and precision with what they do, as with everything, it’s moving forward.”
Roby said Burn the Floor was a completely new production from when it was last presented in Perth two years ago.
This time it will be 50 per cent new material, with the rest comprising favourite numbers including Burn for You (re-choreographed to John Farnham’s classic song) and the iconic Proud Mary piece to close the show.
Roby said her cast of 25 – 18 dancers, four vocalists and three musicians – all participated on stage as an integrated unit to share the story with their audience.
“People have got more intelligent on dance and expect to understand what’s going on,” she said.
“It’s something I’ve had to become better at. When I was dancing it was because you loved the music, but I think as a stage element it needs to tell a story, so using the entire company as part of that is fantastic.”
Burn the Floor XX 2018 will be filmed during the second week of the Regal Theatre season.
What: Burn the Floor XX 2018
Where: Regal Theatre
When: April 12 to 21