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Upcoming Tap Dance Shows Worth Checking Out in New York City

by Marian Horosko
February 17, 2009
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
"Soundcheck" is the name of Tony Waag's new tap dance series to be performed at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, February 12-20. Acoustically, there isn't a better venue for this dance form… intimacy, high ceilings and a feeling of close sharing in the seating.

Waag, as director of the series, has remarked that "there is a consensus among tap artists today that there's a need for more production opportunities for conceptual pieces…pieces that involve the use of story lines or dramatic themes including singing and acting." Waag feels that there's more to tap dance than just a line-up of soloists improvising.

The line-up for "Soundcheck" is: Christopher Scott's "W-L-U-V" shared on the program with Katherine Kramer with 4 dancers and 6 musicians performing to "afro-brazilian-gypsy music.

Vaudevillian Joshua Hilberman in his "Heeling Powers-rhythms of the left brain" with pianist Paul Arslanian on February 13. "Promordial Memories" with choreography and performance by tap legend Brenda Bufalino will be joined by the energetic and cheerful Tap City Youth Ensemble.

On February 19, Barbara Duffy choreographs for her company, exploring love, friendship, self-doubt and courage followed by the story of three hoofers, in "Parallel Exit" with Ryan Kasprzak, Brent McBeth and Derek Roland. By February 20, "Tapsloitation" with Michaela Marino-Lerman and partner share the evening with Max Pollak's group of tappers, musicians and vocalists that merge tap with Afro-Cuban music and dance.

Tap dancing, America's indigenous dance, derived from Irish and Landcashire clog dancing had dancers standing upright and tapping on wooden clogs. Before the manufacture of metal toe and heels cleats used today, dancers affixed the metal tops of "Coca Cola" metal tops. Sand dropped by the early railroad cars used to put out the engines fires, afforded the dancer another sound, known as "sand-dancing." The greatest exponent of that form in the vaudeville circuit was "Sandman Simms." From vaudeville, to movies featuring dancers such as Bill Robinson, Eleanor Power, Fred Astaire, Eleanore Powell and Paul Draper, who used classical music as accompaniment, tap dance became an ever-changing reflection of the country's spirit, creativity and societal changes. It knows no barriers of age, since children as young as 5 years-old can benefit by developing musicality and oldsters increase their sense of balance by the study of tap dance, and is an individual expression from wild and explosive dance, with props, and daring slides to the elegant, poetic and classic form of Brenda Bufalino.

"Tapping the Source," tap dance stories, theory and practice is the name of Bufalino's biography (Codhill Press, New Paltz, NY, wwwcodhill.com). As a performer, choreographer and master teacher, she recounts her stories about her early training and professional career in collaboration with Honi Coles. Probably no other tap dancer is so poetic, inventive, musical or articulate. She will be dancing on the "Soundcheck."
For tickets to the series, call 800-838-3006.
Brenda Bufalino

Brenda Bufalino

Photo © & courtesy of Unknown

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