A star from one of the US’ most celebrated reality programs is debuting a stage show that tells the story of love through dance.
The stages of love are recognizable to even the hardest hearts among us: they start with those first flirtations, which are followed by the heady sensations that accompany a newly kindled passion. Then, as quickly as those early flights of romantic fancy can send you soaring, along come the shadow sides of love – pangs of jealousy, and the fear of having your heart broken. But if the relationship is strong enough, then a real bond can survive, one forged in the fire of that initial attraction but unbroken by love’s inevitable tests.
If you think about it, love’s something of a dance, really, so it’s fitting that this many splendored thing is the theme of Cheryl Burke’s “Love on the Floor,” a dance revue that will be staged at the Orb Theatre at Shibuya’s Hikarie from the end of the month. Fans of the TV show “Dancing with the Stars” (DWTS) will remember Burke as one of the stars of the show for 18 seasons, a professional dancer who was responsible for preparing celebrities – some with very little dance experience – to perform in a variety of styles, from ballroom to tango.
Burke, the creative director of “Love on the Floor,” is busy with rehearsals and costume design sessions in the lead up to the show, but she found time to speak to us from her home in LA about the origins of her show and her choice to cast non-professional dancers in the lead roles. It’s only natural, she explains, that she would choose to explore this most human of experiences with an activity that was closest to her heart. “Dancing has been a part of my life since I was four years old, and it has always been a way for me to express myself. For the last six years, the idea of bringing the story of how love develops to life with dance has been my passion project.”
As she explains, she was looking for the same kind of passion – rather than just technical skill – in the dancers she was auditioning in Los Angeles for the show: “I had some of the top dancers technically among the 500 people who showed up [only eight were selected for the show]. But I didn’t necessarily want to hire the best technical dancers, I wanted to hire the dancers who gave me chills when I watched them dance.”
The California native was also looking for a variety of styles that go beyond the ballroom genre that she was best known for on TV. “Everyone relates to me as a ballroom dancer, but only one or two dancers that I selected have a bit of ballroom dance experience. The dancers are experts at what they do. One might be great in contemporary, another is ballet trained but still has that edge. Another dancer is trained in hip hop. I made sure that everyone was great at what they did but still versatile, so that when we do partner dance, everybody looks like an individual.”
Along with the cast of eight supporting dancers, Burke has gone with a daring choice for her principals, none of whom are professionals in the art form. Dancing lead roles along with Burke are figure skating great Kristi Yamaguchi, the ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White from the US, and Daisuke Takahashi, the renowned Japanese figure skater.
As Burke explains, casting these athletes as principals may seem like an odd choice, but three of the athletes are very comfortable on the dance floor, while the other has already been making great strides. The former Olympian Yamaguchi won on DWTS on the show’s 6th season. Charlie White and Meryl Davis, who have won dozens of titles on the ice as a duo – including Olympic gold and silver – competed separately on the show in its 18th season, with Davis winning the show. Burke didn’t work directly with them, but she admired their skill when they were on the show, and feels that athletes in general were her favorite celebrities to dance with: “I was always hoping to get an athlete because they are so great to work with. They’re disciplined and always on time, and do their job, but they’re also very emotional; they express their bodies in an entirely different way – they taught me a few things!”
She has the greatest praise for Takahashi, the cast member who has no dance experience, and has always been a soloist on the ice. “When I heard that Daisuke would love to be a part of ‘Love on the Floor,’ I was just so blown away that he would even want to do something like this … [and] the fact that he is able to take on such an amazing challenge, and be so ready and willing to do it. I’ve seen him dance and grow as an artist – he is already such an amazing dancer. I have a lot of experience working with celebrities with no dance experience, and I tell you – if he were ever to do ‘Dancing with the Stars’ here in America, he would win hands down.”
The show will be divided into four acts, with each principal representing a stage in the story of a relationship: “Romance” (Yamaguchi), “Passion” (Davis), “Hurt” (White), and “Power” (Burke). Takahashi will dance in the role of “narrator” in a show that will feature innovative staging, dazzling costumes, and, of course, brilliant dancing.
Born in San Francisco, Burke was one of DWTS’ most recognizable dancers during her 18 seasons on the show. Over the course of the series, she has danced with everyone from American football player Emmitt Smith to politician Tom DeLay. An expert dancer in ballroom, Argentinian tango, and Latin styles, Burke says she is exhilarated about the show’s debut in Tokyo: “I know that people in Japan love the arts, and I think this is the perfect place to premiere ‘Love on the Floor.’”
Born in the Okayama Prefecture city of Kurashiki, Takahashi is one of Japan’s greatest male figure skaters, and a pioneer in the sport. He was the first Japanese man to medal, and win, at the Figure Skating Grand Prix Final, the first to medal in Olympic singles competition with a bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and the first to win the World Championships. We’re eager to see what the elite athlete will achieve on the stage.
Love on the Floor
Dates: June 30-July 9 | Venue: Tokyu Theatre Orb, 11F Shibuya Hikarie, 2–21–1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
Tel: 03 3477 9999 | Web: theatre-orb.com
For detailed show times, visit loveonthefloor.com/en | Tickets: ¥15,000 (SS), ¥13,000 (S), ¥11,000 (A), ¥9,000 (B) | To purchase tickets for “Love on the Floor,” visit www.e-tix.jp/tbs/tbsonline/en/tbsonline_en.html