Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Rhythm in Motion" tappers bring their A game to Program B

L-r: Gabe Winn, Elizabeth Burke and Caleb Teicher
dance one of Teicher's Variations.
Photo: Vitaliy Piltser
Live and on video,
Chloe Arnold's hard-charging dancers
lay claim to fame and New York City
in Apartment #33...Where Dreams Are Made.
Photo: Vitaliy Piltser
L-r: Japan-born tap star Kazunori Kumagai
with vocalist Sabrina Clery and guitarist Masa Shimizu
in Kumagai's Excuse Me Mr.
In the face of discouraging world events, Kumagai says,
"music always helps me and inspires me to move forward."
Photo: Vitaliy Piltser

With his Rhythm in Motion programs, Tony Waag (American Tap Dance Foundation) has created an important new resource--space for the bumper crop of contemporary tap choreography of stylistic and thematic diversity. And he has found a congenial, if somewhat confined, home for it at The Theater at the 14th Street Y.

I missed this season's Program A. But, lordy, Program B--with works by Chloe Arnold, Felipe GalganniSusan HebachKazu KumagaiMichela Marino LermanCaleb Teicher and Nicholas Young--was killer.

Introduced by Waag's appealing video montage of dancers at work and play in ATDF's studios, the show raced through ninety tightly-structured minutes of cool. Cool enough that even sand dancing--by a trio from Hebach's Nica's Dream crew--looked fresh enough to be the next street dance trend. Cool enough for me to take more interest in body percussion than I usually do (Young's intricate and social justice-minded WhiTeNoiSe). And even cool enough that the show's most traditional piece--Stardust, Marino Lerman's jazz duet with partner Dan Mitra--sustained its easygoing ways at length without wearing out its welcome.

More highlights included new pieces from Teicher and Kumagi.

Teicher has launched a study Glenn Gould's recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations, and Waag wove three of these trios--so far, he tells me, there are nine--throughout the Program B. Teicher, along with colleagues Elizabeth Burke and Gabe Winns, executes stark lines, delicate expressiveness and fiery speed with equal care. He looks poised to follow the acclaimed Michelle Dorrance into wider recognition as a striking performer and inquisitive dancemaker. Excuse Me Mr.--Kumagai's raw solo, accompanied in song and by guitar--plays the floor as a multi-voiced instrument and channel of soul. A modern rock star of tap, Kumagai holds true to its great Black ancestors while listening to his own empathic heart. And that will always be fresh and cool.

For information on future ATDF events, including this summer's Tap City festival (15th Anniversary, y'all!), click here.

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