Dorrance Dance SOUNDspace

Silva Concert Hall
Sunday, May 10, 2020 at 6:30 pm
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Originally a site-specific work that explored the unique acoustics of New York City’s St. Mark’s Church through the myriad sounds and textures of the feet, SOUNDspace (2013) has been adapted and continues to explore what is most beautiful and exceptional about tap dancing – movement as music.

From Michelle Dorrance:

During the winter of 2012-2013, when this piece was created, I was asked to consider my influences, lineage, legacy – “the web of connections that new generations of artists trace with the past through their work” – and I would argue that no dancers call upon specific individual influences of so many of their masters and their form’s innovators (our ancestors, if you will) more directly and more often than tap dancers. Their personalities and unique styles live deeply within most of us.

I have had the honor of studying with and spending time with a great number of our tap masters before they passed away: Maceo Anderson, Dr. Cholly Atkins, Clayton “Peg-Leg” Bates, Dr. James “Buster” Brown, Ernest “Brownie” Brown, Harriet “Quicksand” Browne, Dr. Harold Cromer, Gregory Hines, Dr. Jeni Legon, Dr. Henry LeTang, LeRoy Myers, Dr. Fayard and Harold Nicholas, Donald O’Connor, Dr. Leonard Reed, Jimmy Slyde and Dr. Prince Spencer. I would also like to honor our living masters whom I am constantly influenced by: Arthur Duncan, Dr. Bunny Briggs, Brenda Bufalino, Skip Cunningham, Miss Mable Lee and Dianne Walker.

While we are exploring new ideas in this show, we are also constantly mindful of our rich history. Dr. Jimmy Slyde was the inspiration for my initial exploration of slide work in socks (in the original work) and his influence continues to guide that work. In order to tap dance on the original wood floor of St. Mark’s Church, we had to turn away from aluminum taps towards using different surfaces on the soles of our feet. Leather soles and wood taps pre-date aluminum taps as they were used in the late 1800s when the form was still called “Buck Dancing” or “Buck and Wing”. There is a bit of a historical reference in some of the leather-soled work we explored, in that we explore the sounds of early tap dancing (imagine Bill “Bojangles” Robinson on the balls of his feet) before introducing the power of the rich bass in the heels. Tap master, John Bubbles, the game changer, is known for revolutionizing the tap dance in this way. We invite you to experience tap dancing with fresh pairs of eyes and ears, with both an acknowledgement towards the past and a look into the future. - Michelle Dorrance


“Ms. Dorrance makes full use of tone, timbre, volume, tempo and, of course, rhythm, constructing patterns that lock together thrillingly…The main emotion that “SOUNDspace” produced was excitement: excitement about sounds, and about the development of this talented choreographer, the most promising one in tap right now.” – Brian Seibert, The New York Times

During the hour-long dance’s most astounding section, the spotlight stayed below the knees to show how much [Ms. Dorrance] could make from how little. A tight row of feet barely lifted off the ground, only sidling sideways and rumbling from toe to heel. The City Center crowd — huge by tap standards — punctuated the mesmerizing minimalism with a frenzy of cheering. – Apollinaire Scherr, Financial Times 

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