Dorrance Dance - ETM: Double Down

Silva Concert Hall
Sunday, May 10, 2020 at 6:30 pm
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This work is the initial exploration of a new world and a new collaboration. Constantly inspired by the range of possibilities inherent in being both dancers and musicians, in the visual and aural, we also embrace embodying the organic and inorganic, the acoustic and the electric. None of this work is remotely possible without tap dancer, percussionist and innovator, my longtime friend, Nicholas Van Young. He is the man behind the curtain. He has been developing the instruments you see here and has been experimenting with the technologies you will see at work tonight for years in order to make this world possible. I also want to acknowledge our musical collaborators and friends, Gregory Richardson, Aaron Marcellus, Warren Craft and Donovan Dorrance who, with intuition, incredibly open minds, and a wonderful sensitivity to collaborating with the sounds of tap dance, have created some inspiring compositions. It has been a dream of mine for almost a decade to collaborate with my dear friend and multi-form dancer, Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie, who's visual percussion, musical phrasing and dynamic range of movement inspire me tremendously. Tap dance was America's first street form and is deeply rooted in the foundations of Hip Hop and House dance. These communities have long been connected on the streets and in the club but are less likely to be found on the concert stage. As we enter the world of electronic music, looping and sampling, these worlds become even closer and that connection ever more important. Getting back to the beginning, I want to say thank you – Thank you Nicholas Van Young, for your artistry, your creativity, your tireless and endless work, your inventive mind, your friendship and your trust. I feel incredibly blessed to have been so warmly invited into your world to play and create.

Nicholas Van Young: It started with the simple need to find a way to amplify tap dance without feedback, so I could dance with a live band. Many people have used contact microphones (Gregory Hines, Tap Dogs, etc.) so I knew that was a possibility, and it led me to experimenting with guitar pedals and effects. I started out looping hand and body percussion with live and affected tap dance. Being a drummer as well, and working with electronic music since the early days of EDM, I've stayed in touch with what’s happening in the music production and DJ community. I knew contact mics could be doubled as drum triggers and I was already playing around with a masterful piece of software called Ableton: a live performance software, digital audio workstation. I got the idea to create small trigger boards to dance on – essentially wooden drum pads. In conjunction with my main dance board and effects this added a whole new sound set for me to experiment with. Over time I took online courses in Ableton and began to understand the limitless possibilities. Soon, I was able to play notes, arpeggios, chords, sound bites and quotes, and began composing scores in real time with improvised tap dance. The synthesized possibilities are endless and the combination of this, with the acoustic sound and attack of tap dance was a very exciting frontier for me to explore. The only thing missing was Michelle Dorrance. Being a company member of Dorrance Dance, Michelle had given me my first opportunity to perform a solo using this electronic set up in an evening length performance in Boston, presented by Thelma Goldberg in 2012. We, as kids, had dreams about experimenting with altered soundscapes for tap dance. We jokingly called it “Tap to the Max."

I was creating solos with my “Compositional Tap Instrument’ but had visions of several dancers across a number of platforms and boards. Dancing out elaborate choreographed phrases while simultaneously playing the musical composition. Once Michelle asked to me to collaborate on this show I knew it “was on." Her expansive creativity in tap choreography and movement, along with her sophisticated musical phrasing started to unlock possibilities in our set that were getting us both so excited. Simple ideas led to large discoveries and every time we workshopped an idea, 20 more were born. Needless to say, here we are. Pushing ourselves to explore the sonic potential in tap dance and tap instruments. In some ways we have created the ultimate tap dancers playground. Where you can let your imagination and your feet run wild.

About the Collaborators:

Michelle Dorrance (Artistic Director/Co-Choreographer/Dancer) is a New York City–based artist. Mentored by Gene Medler (North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble), she was lucky to study under many of the last master hoofers. Career highlights include: STOMP, Derick Grant’s Imagine Tap!, Jason Samuels Smith’s Charlie’s Angels/Chasing the Bird, Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer, Mable Lee’s Dancing Ladies, and working with Darwin Deez. Company work includes: Savion Glover’s Ti Dii, Manhattan Tap, Barbara Duffy and Co., JazzTap Ensemble, and Rumba Tap. Solo work ranges from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to commissions for the Martha Graham Dance Company and American Ballet Theatre. A 2018 Doris Duke Artist, 2017 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, and 2015 MacArthur Fellow, Dorrance is humbled to have been acknowledged and supported by United States Artists, the Joyce Theater, New York City Center, the Alpert Awards, Jacob’s Pillow, Princess Grace Foundation, The Field, American Tap Dance Foundation, and the Bessie Awards. Dorrance holds a B.A. from New York University and is a Capezio Athlete.

Nicholas Van Young (Associate Artistic Director/Co-Choreographer/Dancer/Musician) is a dancer, musician, choreographer, and a 2014 Bessie Award recipient. He began his professional career at age 16 under Acia Gray and Deidre Strand with Tapestry Dance Company in Austin, Texas, eventually rising to principal dancer and resident choreographer. Since moving to New York he has performed with Manhattan Tap, RumbaTap, Dorrance Dance, and Beat the Donkey; he has toured as a drummer for Darwin Deez; and he spent almost a decade performing with STOMP, where he performed the lead role and acted as rehearsal director. Young tours both nationally and internationally teaching and performing at various tap festivals, and founded Sound Movement dance company and IFTRA, the Institute for the Rhythmic Arts. He is thrilled to have found a home with Dorrance Dance, co-creating and developing ETM: Double Down, and the Guggenheim Rotunda Project, both collaborative efforts with Michelle Dorrance.


"His timing is flawless, and he is heaven to watch, because he has so much fun." – The New Yorker

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