Ice Network

'Love on the Floor' features all-star group of skaters

Davis and White, Yamaguchi, Takahashi join 'DWTS' alum's dance show
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From L-R: Charlie White, Cheryl Burke, Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis pose for a picture while preparing for Burke's show, "Love on the Floor." -Yuki Saegusa

In 18 seasons on Dancing with the Stars, Cheryl Burke got to see countless cha chas, sambas and waltzes and see firsthand the talents of celebrity competitors. As she created a stage show production for the first time, she wanted to include some of DWTS's most accomplished alumni, so she called upon Kristi Yamaguchi, and Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Joining them when Love on the Floor debuts June 30 at the Orb Theatre in Tokyo will be dancing newbie Daisuke Takahashi.

"This has been a passion project of mine since 2010," said Burke, a two-time winner of the mirror ball trophy who left the show after season 19. "I have always wanted to put together a dance show that tells a story from beginning, middle and end."

Growing up in ballroom dancing, Burke was taught that every dance tells the story of a relationship and that emotions should be raw. Love on the Floor weaves a story of love. Act one starts out with romance, represented by Yamaguchi. Act two is passion, as portrayed by Davis, and act three is hurt, as performed by White. Act four is power, including self-love, respect and self-worth, of which Burke plays the central character. Takahashi is the narrator throughout the show.

Putting the show together, Burke decided to include the skaters she'd met through DWTS. They have all expressed a range of emotion on the ice, and she felt they were well suited to interpreting her concept.

"To have such true artists like them take what they do on ice and bring it onto the dance floor brings this show to life exactly in tune with my vision," Burke said. "I always loved training athletes when I did DWTS because athletes are disciplined and they know exactly what it takes."

Yamaguchi said she loved the concept and relished the opportunity to perform in Japan.

"In rehearsals, I watch in awe of what [Meryl and Charlie] can do on the floor," said Yamaguchi, who won DWTS season six. "Their connection and chemistry transfers and is just as exquisite. They're both individually incredible dancers. I love this chance to get to know them a lot better and spend time with them away from the ice."

With each performer featured in separate sections of the show, Yamaguchi only dances briefly with White. She does perform a partner dance with one of the professional dancers.

"I'm in five numbers, including opening and closing," said Yamaguchi, whose husband and daughters will join her in Tokyo toward the end of the show's run. "[The girls] are critiquing and offering me their words of advice. They both dance and appreciate dance. They'll enjoy seeing the show."

Burke said Davis, White and Yamaguchi learned their roles within days and were performance ready before the first dress rehearsal. Takahashi stepped in midway through the Los Angeles rehearsals and fit right in. Joining Burke and the skaters in the show are eight professional dancers from a variety of genres, including Nico Greetham, who finished in the top 10 of So You Think You Can Dance season 10.

Along with her own work, Burke used several choreographers to help bring her creative vision to life. Part of the reason she left DWTS was to expand her performance vocabulary. This show is putting her skills to good use.

"I feel free, but it's also scary," Burke said. "Because of [DWTS], I have this opportunity to create something on my own."

The cast is currently rehearsing in Japan. They will load into the Orb Theatre on June 27 for final preparations, which includes getting accustomed to the elaborate three-dimensional projectors used in the show.

Yamaguchi praises Burke's creative vision and passion for the project.

"I can't wait to see the show come to life," Burke said. "All four of the skaters are so different; their styles are so different. I look up to them, they're so inspiring. … They have that passion and that 'it' factor.

"They make me cry every single day. I'm so proud."