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Tuesday, 15 February, 2011 2:57 AM
Janette Manrara to star in "Burn The Floor" at Detroit's Fisher Theatre
DETROIT -- Janette Manrara started in musical theatre at the age of 12 and began formal dance training at 19. She was a finalist on season 5 of "So You Think You Can Dance." In addition, she appeared on the 82nd Academy Awards and danced with Jennifer Lopez. Manrara is currently one of the principal dancers on the FOX hit series "Glee." Now, she is one of the dancers in the new musical "Burn the Floor," which opens at Detroit's historic Fisher Theatre on Feb. 22 and runs through March 6.
Can you tell me a little about how you got started in the acting business?
"I did a little bit of singing, acting and dancing," Manrara said in an exclusive interview. "When I turned 19, my dance instructor in the musical theater school opened up his own dance school. He said he saw great potential and said, 'One day, you'll hopefully be a great dancer.' I thought it was crazy to at 19 really commence working on my dancing, but I went with it. I started taking ballet and jazz, hip hop and point and ballroom all at the same time. It kind of just took off from there. I auditioned for 'So You Think You Can Dance' when I was 24. Then, I made it for season four and came back when I was 25 for season five. The rest is history."
Please tell me a little bit about "Burn The Floor" for those who may not know much about it.
"Well, 'Burn The Floor' is a dance show," the actress/dancer explained. "It really is ballroom reinvented. It takes ballroom dancing from the waltz and fox trot all the way down to cha-cha and paso doble. It goes through all of the different emotions and a lot of different eras of time as well, all within two hours. It's a roller coaster ride of very, very, strong, fast-paced dancing with soft elegance at the same time. I think that you'll see a lot of passion in our dancers. You'll see a lot of love for the dance. We definitely have fun when we do our shows."
What is your role going to be in the new musical "Burn The Floor"?
"We're all dancers in the show," Manrara added. "We all have moments in the show so we have solos. My role in the show is to bring in a little bit of jazz into the whole ballroom feel. Jason Gilkison, the director, creator, choreographer of the show, really believes that ballroom dancing is evolving. My role and my partner, Robbie's role, is to show that evolution in ballroom dancing. We end up combining the world is contemporary and jazz with the ballroom dancing. The dances that we do in the show are a little bit more jazz-oriented with the ballroom in there as well."
Will this be your first time performing in the Motor City?
"I have been to Detroit before," the actress/dancer said. "I was in Detroit with the 'So You Think You Can Dance' tour season five. I had a great time, great, great crowd. I'm looking forward to the two weeks that we'll be there."
What was it like dancing with Jennifer Lopez on the Academy Awards?
"I was in the opening number," Manrara recalls. "I got to come down from the ceiling from this huge chandelier-looking thing. I think it was Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were the two hosts of the Academy Awards. It was such a fun time. It was amazing to see all of the celebrities that were there. Just to be at the Kodak Theater and performing in front of all these people was amazing. A dream come true for me and I think any dancer who loves to dance to be a part of the Academy Awards."
Tell me about your experience as a dancer on the hit FOX series "Glee."
"'Glee' was a lot of fun," the actress/dancer said. "The choreographer was a lot of fun. She is such a great person to work with -- always makes you laugh and really have a good time. It was an amazing experience, a really good time. I got to do the 'Glee' Live tour as well and to tour with these people and tour with the cast, it was awesome. It didn't feel like work. I can definitely say that about 'Glee' because it was just a lot of singing and acting and dancing all at the same time. The entire cast of the show is very fun."
Why do you think dancing is so popular with all of these shows and musicals coming out?
"I think dancing has reached American homes with TV shows like 'So You Think You Can Dance,' 'Dancing with the Stars' and the very new one, 'Live to Dance,'" Manrara explained. "TV shows like that allow Americans that don't have theaters right by or don't tend to go to theater shows to really appreciate the art of dance and see what we put our bodies through and how difficult the art of dance is. The world of dance in theater is growing as well. We've had a great turnout in our shows, especially because our show is about ballroom dancing."
Ticket prices for the Detroit engagement of BURN THE FLOOR start at $29.00 (inclusive of parking and facility fee) and will go on sale this Sunday, December 5 at the Fisher Theatre box office from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets are also available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.BroadwayinDetroit.com, and by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-982-2787. Limited premium seats are available at the box office only. For group sales (12 or more), please call (313) 871-1132 or email email@example.com.
For additional information, call (313) 872-1000 or visit www.BroadwayinDetroit.com.
Photo credit: Kevin Thomas Garcia
Burn The Floor's "Ballroom Beat" song
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