Burn The Floor

 

Burn the floor 1

Some of you may have noticed that we had a big site issue and the site was down for a good few days. But the good news is we are back (though some posts and pictures are still missing and will be added soon) and can now publish this review on Burn The Floor! You only have one day left to see it in Joburg – so get to it!

Burn The Floor – “Fire in the Ballroom” will run on the Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein for a limited season from September 16th to October 3rd.

Crafted over the past two years by groundbreaking choreographers Jason Gilkison and Peta Roby, the hit dance sensation is currently performing to rapturous European and American audiences.

Burn the Floor’s Executive Producer Nic Notley says, “The new show is totally different than our last production that came to Joburg, and will blow the roof off the theatre!  It has the same rebellious spirit, though more daring with a more theatrical rock angle – we have also designed a new set, new costumes and new music including Santana, Janis Joplin, Christina Aguilera and Led Zeppelin.  Don’t think twice about returning to see the show – it will be a great night out, I promise!”

Burn the Floor has the reputation of being the “worlds toughest dance show” and the dancers are handpicked to embrace a new Latin American feel.  The producers are delighted to have a South African performing on the world tour.

 Johannes Radebe, along with his Strictly Come Dancing celebrity partner Leigh-Anne Williams, have had the South African television viewing public on the edge of their seats each week with their deft dance moves and crept into everyone’s hearts as a firm favourite, right up until their were declared runners-up in the recent final held on Friday August 7th.

 

Peta Roby, Burn the Floor’s Director says, “Johannes is a choreographer’s dream and with his spellbinding charisma and dance skills to match, it does not get a lot better!  The audiences are in for a visual treat – South Africa has some extraordinary dance talent that I want the world to see.”

Burn The Floor – “Fire in the Ballroom” will run on The Mandela stage at Joburg Theatre from September 16th to October 3rd.

Lornette - Burn the floorMy friend Lornette Joseph attended the show and wrote this poignant piece about it.

WOW to the infinite degree!  When given the opportunity to see ‘Burn the Floor’ on opening night, I jumped at the opportunity. Friends had said how wonderful it would be, other had booked their tickets weeks before. I had no idea what to expect, I did no research into the event, and I’m so-so when it comes to watching dancing.

The first half was simply amazing, the show started off slow and steady, and by intermission my pulse was racing, my heart in my throat, and I was exhausted from just watching this amazing performance.  When Johannes Radebe appeared on stage for the first time, I thought the crowds would leap up on stage, they were so excited to see him.  What we had expected as the ‘norm’ from him on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ was nothing compared to the performance that he gave.  I have yet to see someone so happy and completely at home and comfortable on stage as Johannes was – dancing his heart out.  The first half moved along quickly, almost too quickly, I didn’t want it to end.

The second half of the performance was a lot shorter, also much slower from the pace of the first half.  The singers rendition of ‘Carmen’ was very unusual, almost like heavy metal, and a bit wicked and wild, which threw me off for a bit as I am a fan of the Opera, but I found I actually like it towards the end of the piece.  The second half of the show was, in my opinion, less energetic, almost as if the dancers were tired but it did pick up towards the end.

The music matched the dance routines very well, and both singers did a wonderful job.  All the dancers were out of this world, but it was definitely Johannes’ big night.

The fluidity of the moves, the complete trust the dancers had in each other, the energy, style, rhythm; all these elements made for a most enjoyable evening, a definite see for young and old and the only thing going through my mind “When can I go back and see it again?!”

Backstage At Sister Act

Watching Janice Honeyman and the rest of the team behind the newest production of Sister Act rehearse behind the scenes prior to the commencement of the show is something that I will never forget.

I’m used to seeing the shows – having the golden thread tweaked by the stars of the shows. So are, I would imagine, most of the arts supporting public. But after watching the Sister Act rehearsals, I realised  how little I actually knew.

SA 7I’ve been to Joburg Theatre countless times. I’ve been there when I was a child and it was the Civic – I’ve been there while it was undergoing its transformation, and I’ve been there many times in the past few years. You could say Joburg Theatre has become as familiar to me as the street I live in. But I’d NEVER been backstage at the theatre until this moment, and – it’s like a WORLD back there that the public never gets to see. You go back there and there’s a sense of mystery, an austere sense of creativity and professionalism as you walk along the creaking floorboards past the ladies sewing the costumes, over the wooden boards and groaning screens where men are building sets, to the rehearsal area, where professionals are at work. You can get lost in a world where makebelieve is made there (I know, I did).  This world to me is almost as magic as the world the team creates there. 

SA 5There is an inestimable amount of work that occurs on a production before the curtain rises and the opening scenes happen. Costumes are prepared, sets are created, music notes are practiced and practiced again. Every single finite movement, word, tone, action – is suggested, directed, fine tuned, and done again and again and again. To see Janice Honeyman doing this in front of the cast of Sister Act – and them reacting to it – was like watching a fine conductor before the finest orchestra – bringing out the tunes and tones and movements until it became a flawless masterpiece.

Naturally enough it may not be much good if you’ve got a world class director working with a cast who isn’t world class, and I can safely say that everyone behind the curtain that day was WORLD class.  And when you realise that you are watching Janice Honeyman (active in South African stage and theatre since 1974) directing legend of SA arts Kate Normington, it’s hard not to go into overdrive as a passionate supporter of the arts, and I decided to seize the opportunity to get Janice’s autograph – even at age 40, I’m a celeb gazer, and I went hat in hand to Janice to ask for her signature. She was happy to oblige and I got this memento of that fantastic occasion.

Janice HoneymanI’m a businesswoman as well as a celeb enthusiast, and I realised that the lessons taken from these professionals could be well applied in business as well as in the arts. Janice Honeyman’s approach is one which can be applied in any industry – consummate professionalism down to the nth degree, but added to this, she is NICE. I could sense the rapport she had with the cast, and the sense of respect that emanated from them as they worked with her.

Kate Normington plays the role of Mother Superior and I got to closely observe her rehearsing with the young, talented and very funny Candida Mosoma (Deloris van Cartier) who came through Idols and has starred in other productions such as Dreamgirls.

 

Sister Act opened recently to excellent reviews from both media and members of the public. If you haven’t booked already, do so now as this one is going to sell out.

Catching up with Gaynor Young SA Actress

Gaynor Young glamGaynor Young is a name that will stand out to all lovers of South African theatre. 

A well known South African actress in the 1980s and currently the author of her own blog Ear Ear Blog, her inspirational story is one that should be shared and remembered, in order to help others facing challenges. 

My parents were theatre lovers back in the 80s and as such we went to a lot of plays, in all the theatres in Johannesburg including the Alhambra, Market and Rex Garner. At these I was privileged to see many South African actors of the day including Gaynor Young – extra special to me because she is my namesake, and being a shy young girl it’s nice to know that an accomplished actress also has your name! –  

Our whole family was very saddened one day in 1989 when we heard of a terrible accident Gaynor had suffered falling down a lift shaft during one of her performances. It was touch and go as to whether she would survive and we listened to the radio daily for news of her condition. Survive she did, but 
she suffered brain damage and deafness. 

She chats to us about her life and how she has managed to overcome adversity. 


“I  have a great faith, I am very stubborn, determined and extremely vain! But perhaps most importantly I loved life before my accident and I still love this incredible thing called life with all its ups and downs.”

Gaynor Young Dandini in CinderellaYou were known as the darling of South African theatre, I remember seeing you when I was a young girl in Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, and Deadly Embrace. Have you always lived in South Africa and how did the places you lived in influence your acting?


I was actually born in Nakuru, Kenya, but moved to South Africa when I was 18 months old. I spent two years in England when I was 5 and then returned to SA where I have been living ever since bar working in London as an pair for six months when I was 21. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and that certainly contributed to who I am. 

I don’t think I have a particularly strong SA accent and I am good at mimicking foreign accents!

How did  you get into acting – do you come from an acting family and do you have anyone else in the family who acts?

I don’t coming from any sort of acting background, but during my childhood, at Christmas time we all went to the yearly pantomime. I always delighted in watching the stories of Peter Pan, Aladdin, Snow White, Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk unfolding before us. It was a total enchantment! I remember thinking: “One day I will be up there! I am going to become an actress!” I wanted to be part of that magical world that gave so many people pleasure. And so…..I became an actress!

You studied at Durban University – what qualification did you obtain and are there any special teachers or staff members who had an influence on your life?

I got a BA in Drama and English and then studied honours Drama and attained a cum laude. Peter and Margaret Larlham were two very special people at University. Peter was the senior drama lecturer and Margi taught movement.  Margi along with Jil Hurst  liberated my voice and body, so that I was free from inhibition. They taught me that ‘nothing is gained without risk’. Pieter Scholtz the Head of the drama department also played a large part in setting me on the acting pathway.

You haGaynor Young as Biancad some roles on TV – Harry’s House and Playing with Fire to name two. Which was your favourite medium – TV or theatre?

Theatre because it is the one I did the most of. Since my accident because of my brain damage I can’t remember much about the TV work.

Were there any pivotal roles in your career – the role as Bianca in Othello perhaps?


I played Dandini in Cinderella. I guess this role was pivotal as Rex Garner saw me, and on the strength of this performance cast me in my first role in Johannesburg in The Runner Stumbles for Pieter Toerien. The first of many roles for Pieter.

I loved playing Bianca in Othello. This role in itself however was not particularly pivotal, but being directed Dame Janet Suzman certainly was. I learnt an incredible amount from Jan.

And then came the moment when you were understudying the role of Guinevere in Camelot. You fell 18 m during a blackout in the theatre, into an open lift shaft. You were in a coma for quite some time, suffered deafness and brain damage. Yet, just a few years later you were able to star in a one woman show about the accident, and write a book about it. Can you remember anything of the performance or the accident?

I actually remember nothing of this evening, in fact I now remember nothing of my acting career, but I was told afterwards that I was absolutely “Fan…..bloody…..tastic!”

Tell us about the period afterwards – what type of treatment and recovery did you undergo?

After finally leaving hospital I returned to my parents’ farm in George, and for two years had every sort of therapy invented! Occupational therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy, psychotherapy. I loved the weekends they were therapy free! At the end of two years I moved to Headway in Johannesburg, a rehabilitation centre exclusively for brain-damaged people. I stayed for a year.

Where do you find the mental strength to get up and carry on?

I have a great faith, I am very stubborn, determined and extremely vain! But perhaps most importantly I loved life before my accident and I still love this incredible thing called life with all its ups and downs.

What inspired you to write your book and your play? Did these help bring closure to you?

Gaynor Young with Jan ShapiroI have always enjoyed writing. After my accident I discovered it was something I was still able to do although I had to learn to write again with my left hand and typing became a one fingered affair!  I wrote regularly to my great friend Shirley Johnston about how my recovery was progressing. She wrote encouraging replies. One day however her reply was filled with criticism. ‘ Damm cheek’ I thought, but after reading what she wrote, I realised she was right. I guess that day I decided to write my book and that I needed Shirley to be my editor. The process of writing my book gave me my ‘history’ back. So many memories were brought back to me.

As for my one woman shows: another great friend, Maralin Vanrenen, phoned me and said, ‘I know you told me that because of your accident you would never act again, but, you can perform as Gaynor Young, telling your story! You open in six weeks at The Civic Theatre!’. So I had to sit down and write My Plunge to Fame and then later my second show Gaynor Rising.

If there is anybody reading this who has suffered such an accident or is facing such a challenge, what advice would you give them?

Don’t listen to anyone telling you that you can’t do something. Deciding that you are going to try is 60%  of the job done. Don’t take no for an answer.  Yes, there is a point at which you have to accept. But, never accept without first trying. My friend Kate Edwards after my accident said to me that one day a cure would be found for my deafness. Since then cochlear implants have come into play in South Africa, and now after two operations I am able to hear again in both ears using my CI’s. No, my deafness is not cured but……… I can hear again!  Kate was right!

What do you see the future holding?

Well, I live one day at a time, but because of my love of writing (and to be honest my need to try and earn some money), I decided to start blogging at the end of March this year. I blog about the issues in my life, my deafness, my Christianity, my brain damage,  my personal perspective on the world – my complete love of life! And, it would seem people like what I am writing. I am fast becoming a major player in the SA blogging arena.  Last week alone over 24k saw my blog posts via my associated FB page, and my last blog to do with Movember (http://www.earearblog.com/grow-grow-2) got 21,200 views just over the weekend Read ‘ear ‘ear blog!

Where can people follow what you are up to now and order your book?

My book, My Plunge to Fame is available via my blog ‘ear ‘ear (www.earearblog.com) which I also keep up to date. 

Related post: Amy Yasbeck chats to us about the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health