A film that explodes like a firework! The new video by Dresden-based filmmaker Sebastian Linda shows how a shared passion for dance can break down boundaries between languages and cultures. View the whole film here:

Excitement, nervousness, hard work: it feels a bit like an exam, even though all the participants are experienced dancers who are used to performing on major stages. But in “Floor on Fire – Battle of Styles” they are starting all over again. Suddenly it’s no longer about what they can do as individuals, but how they improvise and interact with each other.

Dancers from very different styles and backgrounds are paired up in teams to compete against other couples. Classical ballet meets breakdancing, contemporary dance meets Brazilian passinho. The music is also a diverse mix, from hip hop to baroque and everything in between – different styles flow into each other and the dancers don’t know what the DJ will play next.

A jury decides who is the best and who gets the chance to dance again. Each winning team is allowed to choose one dancer from the other team before going forward to the next round. It’s a classic knock-out tournament, a dance off.

Carmen Mehnert, Programme Director for Performing Arts in Hellerau, came up with the idea of mixing the different dance styles together:

“It’s all about stepping back from yourself, from your ego and your style. In an ideal scenario, people forget their own background and push themselves beyond their limits to create something completely new as part of a team.”

Dancer and performer Christian Novopavlovski has taken part several times already: “You have to respond really quickly and coordinate your moves with everyone else’s. It’s a bit like having a conversation, except we’re expressing ourselves through dance.” He said his muscles often ached for days after a show. But the audience is not aware of the physical exertion involved; instead, they are swept up in the thrill and excitement of the fast-paced movements and action on stage.

Alexander “Kelox” Miller of dance crew The Saxonz says: “You can’t prepare for it because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You have to jump right out of your comfort zone and just be yourself.”

He continues: “Dance is a universal language, and hardly any other show demonstrates that as clearly as Floor on Fire. Everything can change, and anything can happen.” In that sense, Floor on Fire is a metaphor for life itself.

Semperoper Ballet took some convincing at first, as Carmen Mehnert explains. István Simon, a solo dancer at the Semperoper, is thrilled by how close the dancers are to the audience, something he finds inspiring. “We’re not used to that at all at the Semperoper,” he says.

Creativity, innovation and an open-minded approach to dance make these evenings unique. Not just for the dancers but, most importantly, for the audience, who witness the transformations at first hand.