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Broadway Steps 

'Burn the Floor' features every conceivable popular dance style

"Ballroom. Reinvented."

That's the tagline for Burn the Floor, the dance extravaganza scheduled to alight at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall next week. The traveling production, brought to town by Broadway in Tucson, has 20 high-octane dancers who do every conceivable popular dance style, from waltz to foxtrot to mamba and swing.

"Everybody goes crazy in the Latin section," says Pasha Kovalev, who headlines the show with Anya Garnis. "We have 20 beautiful dancers from all over the world. The show is all about energy and motion."

A critic who recently saw it in Dallas called it "electrifying," "mind-blowing" and "eye-popping."

Kovalev is from Siberia. Americans know Russian dance primarily for ballet, but "ballroom was always my main thing," he says. "Ballet was just part of my training. I did ballet and jazz to improve my technique."

That technique took Kovalev out of Siberia and into Moscow, and from there to New York and Los Angeles. TV-watchers may recognize him from his stints on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars.

Those competition shows are "stressful but fun," Kovalev says. "They help you grow professionally. You learn other dance styles."

His skills were good enough to get him into the original productions of Burn the Floor on Broadway and in London's West End.

The show is "all about dancing, all ballroom dancing. There's the cha-cha, the rumba, the slow waltz, the quick step." Even so, it's structured chronologically, giving a quick history of popular dance, and every dance "has a little story in it."

Two singers perform the music live.

The rigors of the 40-week tour actually make the dancers better, Kovalev says. In Tucson, the 20 dancers will be doing eight shows in six days, including two on Saturday and Sunday.

"Performing every night before a live audience makes you grow," explains Kovalev, now 31. "It's the best practice. It keeps you in great shape and ready for tomorrow."

More by Margaret Regan

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