Burning down the house

They dance eight gorgeous-but-grueling shows a week and travel to the next tour city on their lone day off. Yet So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)vet- erans Pasha Kovalev and Janette Manrara sound remarkably perky during recent morning cellphone chats about Burn the Floor, the hot ballroom dance show that will bring them to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for a two-week run that began Tuesday.

The Russian-born Kovalev and partner Anya Garnis, who perform many of what he calls ‘‘the dynamic, hot, sexy Latin dances” in the show, have been dancing together for 11 years. That familiarity, he says, is both a good and bad thing. “You know which buttons you should and shouldn’t push,” Kovalev says, adding with a laugh, “and you know how to push them.”

Kovalev, who has performed with Garnis in the show on Broadway, thinks that TV shows like SYTYCD and Dancing With the Stars (both of which came after Burn the Floor, which debuted in London in 1999), have led to audiences being much more savvy about ballroom styles — all of which, he says, he appreciates.

“It’s like asking which of your five fingers you like best,” he says. As for Miamian Man- rara, who turns 27 on the day Burn the Floor opens in Fort Lauderdale, she is still marveling at her life since she decided to leave a good job at Northern Trust Bank and her finance studies at Florida International University to pursue her “crazy” dance dream on SYTYCD.

“I have danced on Glee, danced on the Glee tour, danced on the Oscars, danced with Jennifer Lopez,” she says. “I’m blessed to say I make a living doing what I love.”


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