Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An afternoon of Brooklyn tap.

This past Sunday I went to the first annual BEAT Festival in Brooklyn to see Marshall Davis, Jr & Friends.  The festival is having performances of all types all around the borough of Brooklyn until this Sunday, Sept. 23rd.  The performance I went to was held in the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope.  Ironically, the only other time I've been there was years ago to see Jimmy Slyde perform.

Marshall was joined by another outstanding tap dancer, Maurice Chestnut and they sure "hit the boards" together and individually.  There were also three singers who interacted with Marshall and Maurice.  I don't want to describe much of the show because I want you to go see it.  Suffice it to say that there was no holding back in the energy of these fellows and interesting choices were made with music and rhythm.

To be honest, I have this ongoing concern with many of the current generation of dancers and the heavy tap that they get into.  It's incredible in terms of the rhythms they create and dedication they have to what they are doing when they dance.  But I wonder how their bodies will hold up for them as they move into their 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond.  Arthritis ain't fun.  I want believe that they will be dancing forever.  Having said that,  I still totally support what they do and urge you to check out his show.  There are three more performances this week in other Brooklyn venues as part of the festival.  GO! Click here for the info.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Winding down summer....

Well, yesterday was Labor Day, the unofficial sign that summer is ending.  A lot of tap has gone on in the last few months, the season for many tap festivals.  Feet were hitting the boards in Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Prague, Vancouver, San Francisco, to name a few places.  I had the pleasure of participating in the 3rd Annual New Jersey Tap Festival held in Bloomfield, NJ at the end of August.  Classes were held at Broadway Performing Arts and the final concert at Westminster Arts Center, a part of Bloomfield College, where I teach.

I did the history sessions, showing clips of dancers of importance and sharing some stories.  At one session I focused on Sammy Davis, Jr., because he's one of those people a new generation really know little about.  Below are three clips of Sammy and a clip of Michelle Dorrance, Hillary-Marie Michael (founder and director of the festival), Jeff Foote, Kyle Wilder and Evan Ruggiero jamming at the festival.

                            Sammy at age 7

Sammy in his 20's with his dad, Sammy Davis, Sr., and his "uncle" Will Mastin - The Will Mastin Trio

Sammy's last performance at a televised tribute for him.

By the way, if you haven't seen it already, check out the NY Times article about Michela Marino-Lerman's Wednesday tap jam at Small's in Greenwich Village.