Burn The Floor: Extreme Ballroom, Hackney Empire, London

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The Independent Culture

The show was born, in Australia, at a time when Riverdance gave every terpsichorean genre the hope that it could break through. Burn the Floor richly earns that break for ballroom. Eschewing sequins, fake tan, industrial-strength cosmetics and scary hair, the cast deliver joyous, fabulous dance, from classic waltz to a turbo-charged rock-jive encore routine, danced to "Proud Mary".

The couples all compete, individually, internationally, so it is great to see them dance together. Jason Gilkinson, himself a world champion, has directed and choreographed, and this is accomplished stuff. His cast love every kick, dip, shimmy and chassay they make, and it is very attractive to watch. I could not keep my eyes off Peta Murgatroyd and Trent Whiddon. Together, they have the kind of charisma that could start a religious movement.

Dances segue into each other, rumba-ing couples duel, foxtrots get very foxy indeed, and a sinuous blonde called Jessica Raffa manages dance moves blindfolded, and with six partners. Big production numbers grow out of solo performances in sections spun around pasadoble, salsa and jive. It is breathtaking, fun and very sexy to watch 10 couples who each have real chemistry.

And it's not only the perfect pirouettes that make you love the show. The onstage band is so hot that the night probably contributes to global warming. They cover everything from "Kiss from a Rose" to Carmina Burana, and they are superb. Adrian Cunningham's first saxophone solo actually had me making whimpering noises in the front stalls.

Lighting and costume are, like the dancing, spot on. The only weaknesses are the "guest" appearances of Sadie and Joseph from Strictly Dance Fever - who were sweet and jived fit to bust, but were hopelessly outclassed - and the cruise-ship cliché male vocalist.

Ends tomorrow (020-8985 2424)

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