7 Sep 2011
Vancouver International Tap Festival
Show: ACGI: Anybody Can Get It
Choreography: Jason Samuels Smith
Dancers:Jason Samuels Smith, Chloe Arnold, Melinda Sullivan, Sarah Reich, Lee Howard
Musical Director: Theo Hill
Musicians: Theo Hill, Buff Allen, Kerry Galloway
When: Sep 2 2011
Venue: Vancouver Playhouse
Reviewed by: Tessa Perkins
As one of three performances comprising the Vancouver International Tap Festival, this innovative, exciting show showcases five amazing dancers while incorporating jazz music, singing, rapping, and lots of crowd participation. I was extremely impressed and I have to say it was definitely the best tap show I’ve ever seen, and one of the best dance shows I’ve seen in any genre.
This tap company, ACGI, was founded by Jason Samuels Smith and began in 2001 when he got together a group of talented tappers who could perform well as soloists, but also work well together as a group performing his original choreography. The company has had members come and go over the years, and they have had a lot of success touring their show and even appearing on So You Think You Can Dance. Each member is able to shine through as a unique performer during the show, and their dedication to tap dance and support for each other is evident.
From the moment the five dancers take the stage, their feet are in a flurry of intricate movements that don’t seem humanly possible. The sweat is flying in no time, and they all give it everything they’ve got to show their love of tap dance and give a very impressive performance. The three musicians on stage in the background provide beautiful accompaniment, and everyone seems to feed off of one another’s energy.
Samuels Smith came on stage after the opening number to talk to the audience and “buy some time” while the other dancers rested and got ready for the next part of the show. He explained that this was not a ballet or contemporary show and that we should react to the performance and let them hear it, whether we thought it was good or bad. There were cheers and applause frequently throughout the show as we were simply awed by the amazing talent of these five dancers.
Each dancer had a chance to do at least one solo during the show and show off their own unique style. Sarah moved with the music and did a lovely jazz inspired piece, while Melinda began her solo by singing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and then doing a tap piece mimicking that rhythm. Lee started off with rapping a catchy song and then showed off his amazing light-footed moves. His feet moved so fast I was surprised he didn’t get all tangled up. Chloe did a very emotional, introspective piece that seemed to have a bit of a flamenco inspiration as she created a beautiful rhythm with her taps along with the live music. Jason’s solo was saved for the end, and he did a routine full of fancy footwork and lots of crazy spins and slides.
With such a collaborative, positive energy, the dancers came on and did a sort of tap-off, three against two, but it was all in fun as they pushed each other to try new things and explore new moves and the boundaries of tap dance and their own abilities.
The costumes for the show were simple but elegant, allowing the dancers to exude a sort of effortless cool. The two men stayed in black pants and shirts with white tap shoes the entire show, but the women had a few costume changes. They started out with red, blue, and green tap shoes and black pants with a different fancy black top, but each changed into something for their solo and they also did one number in black dresses and stunning high heeled gold tap shoes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this show, and I think anybody who sees this tap company will have a newfound respect for tap dance, or be inspired to lace up and try it our for themselves. They make it look so effortless and endlessly enjoyable that it really does seem like Anybody Can Get It.