Dance: The new Pan's People

Burn the Floor Royal Albert Hall, London The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs Riverside Studios, London

Tap Dogs was a dance phenomenon that started small and got big. Riverdance was a dance phenomenon that started medium-big and got bigger. But Burn the Floor, the latest dance spectacular on the circuit, was conceived as an outsized baby. With a cast of 44 championship dancers, it was never going to be anything but mega.

The producer Harley Medcalf hit on the idea after seeing the ballroom dancing display at Elton John's 50th birthday party. Ballroom, he decided, was ripe for a revamp. Throw out the bouffant and sequins; add in loud music, club-style clothes and sexy young performers. With a bit of of stylistic tweaking it could even become a youth cult.

The age-spread of the ecstatic Albert Hall audience didn't rule this out, though I suspect Burn the Floor's chief fanbase will be the types who still miss Saturday Night at the London Palladium on TV. All the down- tempo numbers are in this vein, though imaginative input is high. There's a Viennese waltz in which a dozen crinolines light up like lampshades; a top-hat-and-tails sequence with the men steering dummies on castors. These slip down with all the silky sugariness of a good egg flip.

But the tone falters several times through the evening. I don't think we were supposed to laugh in the street-mugging scene which segued the Waltz into the Grunge/Punk sequence, but the sight of a Joachim Cortez lookalike standing tightening his six-pack while his clothes were ripped from him prompted loud guffaws. It was less clear what anyone was supposed to think of the women in Barbara Windsor wigs and heart-shaped bunny tails. It had to be ironic, yet one was uneasily aware of this show's need to please everyone, including those who want and expect something pink and frilly. The identity crisis is never fully addressed.

Burn the Floor is at its confident best in the Latin styles. And you don't need to know your cha-cha-cha from your urban cha cha to appreciate the sheer verve of the dancing. Anthony van Laast's choreography is impressively varied, though in the "modern" numbers the legacy of Pan's People (his baby, all those years ago) is perhaps rather too evident. All that air- punching and pouting, and women looking angry about nothing in particular. They also have a tendency as they dance to muss their hair over their faces while opening their mouths - a cheap trick from porn movies which a choreographer really ought to rise above.

But these are mere matters of taste. If you can leave that killjoy luggage at the door, Burn the Floor is a fabulous show whose energy hits you in the face like the blast from an oven. The final routine - they call it hiphop but it's really a free-for-all - is a marathon of high spirits that lifts the roof and puts a grin on your face all the way home. And the fashion tips come as a bonus. Of all Bonita Bryg's wild designs, the fringed white leather two-piece with cut-out buttock area took the biscuit.

Kinky clothing is the staple of Lea Anderson's latest offering, which re-unites The Cholmondeleys (her all-female group) with The Featherstonehaughs (her all-bloke group) and throws in a couple of inspired musicians who call themselves The Victims of Death (who, come to think of it, did look a bit peaky). Anderson's strength has always been her visual-art interest, drawn on to memorable effect in her last show which animated the life- drawings of Egon Schiele. In Smithereens, she fixes on the 1920s movements of Dada and Bauhaus, using the fragmented format of Berlin cabaret to string together a series of kooky movement-and-design motifs. The result is something like the Kit Kat Klub during a blackout on the night Liza Minnelli didn't show for work. Dance-invention is not the show's selling point. It's the cumulative effect of repetitive gesture that motors the show along, the dancers spooling across your line of vision like tape reeling off a machine, then reappearing as if on an audio loop. It's a stylish idea, but ennui is also part of the package. More intriguing over the long term is the dialogue between the two musicians and an ancient wind-up gramophone, which at one stage echoes with creepy precision a piece of hi-tech sound-sampling the pair have apparently just made up. Clever.

But Sandy Powell's costumes are the main reason to buy a ticket. A fibre- optic evening gown in the form of an ostrich. Cat suits with peep-hole cleavages (for men as well as women). Blue-haired gorgons on stilts. Back-to-front face masks. For a mercifully brief 90 minutes, Third Reich decadence rides again.

The Cholmondeleys: Belfast Festival (028 9066 5577) tonight & Mon; Liverpool Everyman (0151 709 4776) Tues & Wed; Wyvern, Swindon (01793 524481) Fri; and touring

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition