30 Jun 2005
Dance Review | Tap City
A Joyful Summer Thunderstorm of Busy, Happy Feet
By GIA KOURLAS
Published: June 30, 2005
Tap City is a jovial affair that wastes little time getting to the goods. In its gala program, seen Tuesday at the Joyce Theater, the artistic director, Tony Waag, masterminded a best-of sampler that featured stellar performances by dancers like Brenda Bufalino, Sarah Petronio and Jason Samuels Smith.
Erin Baiano for The New York Times
Mable Lee and Tony Waag performing in the Tap City gala at the Joyce Theater on Tuesday night.
There were occasional cringe moments. Mr. Waag's opening song, "Rhythm Is Our Business," was thin, but he was a warm, unaffected host who made it clear that tap was the real star of the show.
The program provided a preview of the performances in the coming week. In the first act, Tap Divas featured Mable Lee, who wore a daring fringe minidress and silver heels and moved with sultry abandon. Ms. Bufalino, her fluid, unpretentious style intact, performed two solos, and the North Carolina Youth Ensemble lent Ms. Bufalino's energetic "Jump Monk" adorable heart.
Tapage, a collaboration between Mari Fujibayashi and Olivia Rosenkrantz, presented "Morango ... Almost a Tango," a contemporary work set against films of the choreographers as children; it was too brief to resonate. Michelle Dorrance and Friends closed the first act with the bubbly "Music Box."
The meatier second act began with an improvisation by Ms. Petronio, who moves with a wonderfully loose-hipped casualness that belies the highly cultivated rhythm of her feet. Barbara Duffy and Company offered homage to Gregory Hines in "Boom," and the evening concluded with "Copasetics Chair Dance," a tribute to Honi Coles & the Copasetics, in which the entire ensemble remained seated as their feet pounded the floor.
At a reception after the program, Ms. Petronio was presented with the organization's Hoofer Award and Delilah Jackson with the Tap Preservation Award. Sammy Davis Jr. and Peg Leg Bates were inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame. Fittingly, the highlight of the show was a tribute to both by Mr. Smith, who performed a virtuosic, musically sensitive solo, with his left heel seemingly glued to the floor. It was a bit spooky and wholly transcendent.
Tap City continues through Sunday at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800.