(photo: Eduardo Patino)
And Still You Must Swing
at The Joyce Theater
No hype. Dormeshia has been crowned Queen of Tap and, while some might find the notion of regal hierarchy in the arts a bit distasteful, there's no denying the evidence of one's eyes and ears. Mastery is mastery. Moreover, the refined ability of this artist to make and switch up minute mental/physical calculations with every passing microsecond qualifies her for superstardom. Go see And Still You Must Swing, one of Aaron Mattocks' great tap presentations at The Joyce this season. All hail the Queen.
Dormeshia's show, which premiered in Summer 2016 at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, teams her with veteran dancers and frequent running buddies, Derick K. Grant and Jason Samuels Smith, of whom we can never ever see enough. The tap firepower is strong with this endearing trio, as we've come to expect. But look who's also in the house: Camille A. Brown, top-notch performer and in-demand choreographer of contemporary and Broadway dance. Her unmatched embodiment of Black culture and legacy adds a distinct, dedicated underpinning of wokeness/awareness to this seamlessly entertaining show.
|From left to right:|
Derick K. Grant, Dormeshia, Camille A. Brown and Jason Samuels Smith
(photo: Christopher Duggan)
|Jason Samuels Smith|
(photo: Christopher Duggan)
And Still You Must Swing, a 75-minute suite of dances and musical interludes, has a tight, intermission-less structure with generous fun but no time for fluff. Choreographed and "improvographed" solos, duos, trios and quartets each aim, jump and achieve high spots you think can't possibly be topped, all supported by a vivacious jazz band as sumptuously warm as it is driven--musical director and pianist Carmen Staaf, drummer Winard Harper, bassist Noah Garabedian and percussionist Gabriel Roxbury. And the linkage between the lush, expressive fluidity of swing in dance and swing in music--and the roots of all this in Black experience and sensibility--comes across clearly without being forced. If you can't imagine why a djembe, the iconic West African drum, deserves to get a highlighted moment in the middle of a tap show, no one will get up and tell you. But just wait for Brown's solos; she channels the innovations of enslaved African taking back the power of intense vibration and rhythm, preserving and expressing this freedom through the body. Drums, you see, were forbidden to a stolen people but never truly silenced.
Brown adds outrageous gutsiness and quirk to Dormeshia's lineup. The charming bros--often bookending sleek, slithery Dormeshia--add hoofericious heft while dazzling us with the possibly limitless variety of ways heels, toes and sides of feet can ring changes on the meeting of metal and wood. Legs and feet fly like the digits of a 75 wpm typist.
Breathless, you eventually stop thinking How'd they do that? and surrender to your own connection to the music.
Good. They got ya.
Original music: Allison Miller and Dormeshia
Lighting design: Sue Samuels/Divine Rhythm Prod./Event Systems & Design Inc.
Costume design: Javier Pedroza
And Still You Must Swing continues through Sunday, December 8 (Wednesday, 7:30; Thursday and Friday, 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 2pm and 8pm). If any tickets remain--and that's chancy--grab them here. In the event of sold-out shows, there will be a ticket line for hopefuls starting one hour before curtain time.
175 Eighth Avenue at West 19th Street, Manhattan
DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.
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