26 Aug 2011
Dance star Jason Samuels Smith will be tippin’ n’ tappin’, hittin’ and hoofin’ in Vancouver next week just in time for the Vancouver International Tap Festival.
The Emmy-award winning American tap dancer will be coming to the city along with four members of his dance troupe A.C.G.I. (Anyone Can Get It).
Known for their athletic and rhythmic prowess, the group were featured on TV’s So You Think You Can Dance and are ranked alongside tap virtuoso Savion Glover for making tap relevant again to younger audiences.
“They move across the stage so fast, [you wonder] how are they doing this? They just intrigue you. There’s comedy, there’s hip hop, there’s hoofing and hitting like I’ve never seen before,” says Sas Selfjord, co-founder and executive director of the Vancouver Tap Dance Society.
Selfjord was so blown away by the dancers rhythmic finesse that she booked them right away to come to Vancouver after seeing them at a sold-out show in Portland last December. A.C.G.I.’s performance in Vancouver on Sept. 2 will be the first time a professional tap troupe is presented during the Vancouver International Tap Festival, which has previously focused more on bringing professionals to hold workshops.
Selfjord co-founded the Vancouver Tap Dance Society in 1995 in the hopes of fostering a bigger community for the American art form she so loves. The society holds dance classes from September to June and has grown from just 18 students in 1995 to 300 today.
And in another milestone Friday, the society now has a permanent home as they just closed on a deal to purchase the 5,000-square-foot building in the Hastings-Sunrise area of East Vancouver that has been their headquarters for more than a decade (and a working dance studio for 67 years).
“Tap dancing has always been the poor cousin in the dance world and here we are now with a place for us to grow roots, it’s just amazing,” said Selfjord.
Now 60, Selfjord only started learning to tap at age 40. While she grew up on a diet of watching Hollywood greats like Fred Astaire puttin’ on the ritz,’ Selfjord says tap today often doesn’t receive the same kind of exposure as ballet, jazz or contemporary dance.
She believes dancers like Smith and his A.C.G.I. colleagues, including Melinda Sullivan, a finalist from season seven’s SYTYCD, are going a long way to bringin tap back to contemporary culture.
“Whatever you thought about tap, it will be completely changed,” she says of anyone who sees them perform.
Dance: Jason Samuels Smith and A.C.G.I.
When: Sept. 2 at 8 p.m.
Where: Vancouver Playhouse Theatre (Hamilton and Dunsmuir)
Tickets: Adults $48, Seniors $46, Youth $38 at www.vantapdance.com, www.vancouvertix.com or by calling 604-253-0293 or 604-629-8849
More info: The Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival is held from Sept. 1 to 4. For full event listings, visit www.vantapdance.com.
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