28 Oct 2005
PBS Presents: Melbourne International Tap Festival 2005
There’s nothing like the rhythmic sound of metal on wood. When it’s done by some of the world’s best tappers right here in Melbourne, you won’t be able top it for tapping inspiration.
The city’s energetic tap family are joining the talents of some of the best international hoofers in the game during the first ever MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL TAP FESTIVAL October 13-18, 2005.
An intensive week of performances and workshops will get Melbourne’s tappers deepening their skills and will thrill audiences with some of the newest, cutting-edge moves in the craft.... read more.
Top international draw card Jason Samuels Smith (USA) will show Australian audiences why he’s one of the world’s best contemporary hoofers. And Melbourne’s own Grant Swift (AUS/NZ) - the festival’s artistic director - will reveal how he’s helping Australia keep in time with the international tap community. The festival will also feature former Aussie Tap Dogs Ben Read and Paul Davis, Canadian hoofer Roxanne Rout, and leading Australian tap troupes “The Swift Rhythm Hoofers”, “The Swift Rhythm Kids” and Foot3”. Each will let loose their unique and vast talents and experience on audiences during the week.
With special guest artists Lamine Sonko (African Dancer and Drummer from Senegal) and three-time Australian Breakdance Champions ”Wickid Force” , the festival will be both inspiring and inspirational, linking in the African origins of the art and the hip-hop culture that has come from it.
Tap was born out of the rhythms of a down-trodden African American people, who were taken from their homeland and shipped to North America in the 1700’s as slaves. In an attempt to crush their spirit, they were later banned from playing their tribal drums. Their masters tried hard to remove them from their links to the past and their hopes for a better future.
But what this resilient people couldn’t do with their hands, they took up with their feet. Tap was born - way before Fred Astaire and Shirley Temple helped take it to the silver screen and introduce it to the white population of the world.
Samuels Smith is an Emmy Award winner and one of the great hoofers of today, at just 24. He is a talented choreographer, and is considered a truly gifted and highly respected teacher, musician and host. He is the co-director of the annual LA Tap Festival, and with a true love and passion for tap dance, his visit to our shores promises to be inspiring.
Swift, as a street dancer, teacher, choreographer, director and performer, has traveled from one side of the planet to the other. Self taught with a deep respect and love for tap and its history, and known for his improvisation skills, he encourages individuality and improvisation while staying true to the form.
The Melbourne International Tap Festival will be loaded with workshops, masterclasses, films/talks and jam sessions, and will be highlighted by three performance shows at the Chapel Off Chapel Theatre, Prahran. Entitled “United We’re Strong”, the performance shows promise to be an explosion of the most exciting tap dance, jazz and breakdance talent ever to be seen in Australia.
UNITED WE’RE STRONG
Top-class show of talent to spear-head tap festival
Audiences will witness an explosion of rhythm and movement at the Melbourne International Tap Festival’s headline event - United We’re Strong.
The celebration of the roots of rhythm tap dancing, its track through history, and the other dance forms which have sprung from it will bring together in one show a talented list of world-class acts.
United We’re Strong will feature Emmy Award Winner Jason Samuels Smith (USA), one of the most dynamic and skilled tap dancers in the world today. His part in the show will leave audiences with no doubt about where the roots and future of tap lay.
The show explores the relationship between tap dance and break dance and the African beat and spirit from which both were born. It illustrates how Hollywood took over tap and its shameful treatment of the great Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, who was just one of the many great black acts never allowed to speak with intelligence in the movies.
The show will feature Melbourne tap master Grant Swift - Australia’s key link to rhythm tap roots - and two former Tap Dogs, Paul Davis and Ben Read. This group has had an enormous influence on the popularity of tap in Australia - daring to build a bridge between classical syllabus tap and several steps closer to the “promised land” of the rhythm tap dancer. Canadian hoofer Roxanne Rout, leading Aussie troupes the ‘Swift Rhythm Hoofers’ and the ‘Swift Rhythm Kids’ and all-girl outfit ‘6Foot3’ will also join the lineup.
African drummer and dancer Lamine Sonko (Senegal) will perform his wild moves and undisputed Australian Breakdance Champions Wickid Force will show one of the dance forms to come from rhythm tap.
United We’re Strong show
October 15 & 16, 2005
Chapel Off Chapel Theatre, Prahran
Three shows only
(Saturday October 15 2005 7pm & 9:30pm; Sunday October 16 2005 7pm)
General Admission ($40; children and concession $33)
For more information, check out the festival website (link below). Tickets on sale now through Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran ph: (03) 8290 7000
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