5 Oct 2007
Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Dance Magazine, Oct, 2007 by Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Tap City The Duke on 42nd Street, NYC July 11-14, 2007
Let tap be tap. This season brought us Savion Glover weirdly hell-bent on pairing his superior tap dancing with inferior modern dance and ballet (Invitations to a Dancer recently at the Joyce). And the zippy Tap City fest hit a few cultural-fusion speed bumps during its Tap Internationals show, reaching its nadir with Brazilian Christiane Matallo's inept, interminable Carmen Miranda act. But on the bright side, Tap City's Tap Forward evening--a showcase for fresh choreographic ideas--rocked like never before. The lineup of artists dialed down the trendy multi-culti and put skill, musicality, and heart front and center.
With the wonderfully relaxed Tony Waag at the helm, and lavish musical sauce from Bernice Brooks' trio, Tap Forward laid down the science, ancient and new. Margaret Morrison--a paragon of exacting control and cool theatricality--began her Reunion Blues with a mannered stroll, delicately drawing a fine, clickety line through the spaciousness of Theo Hill's piano plinks. To watch her was to sit up tall and vow to get your life in order.
Michelle Dorrance--brilliant and impish--revealed a vulnerably geeky, girlish side in Regina Spektor's Baobabs, danced to singing by Miriam Chicurel. With intricate footwork and easygoing sensuality, choreographer Sarah Savelli turned Gershwin's "Summertime" into a simmering Girls' Day Out for herself and the fabulous Ayodele Casel, Michela Marino-Lerman, and Carson Murphy. New to me, dancer-choreographer Parris Mann brought marvelous presence to his solo work in With Love to Deborah Mitchell, a tribute to Tap City's 2007 Hoofer Award recipient by her New Jersey Tap Ensemble.
Among these highlights none shone as bright as Jason Samuels Smith and his Charlie's Angels: Dorrance, Chloe Arnold, and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, a trio of tough, ultra-sophisticated vamps in high-heels and little black dresses who can hoof at 100 mph. Sumbry-Edwards--with her exceptional upper-body power and fluidity-qualifies as poster girl for the joy of dancing. Samuels Smith might be the evening's most accomplished and persuasive choreographer as well as its wackiest, most mad-footed performer.
Give due praise as well to two guys from the Tap Internationals cast: Alexander Ivashkevich (Russia) and Anton Merkulov (Estonia), whose sassy, confident hoofing and smooth interactions in The Panther were sheer pleasure to behold. Tony, bring them back!
Tap has enough diversity even when it's just being itself. And it's so easy when you know how.
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