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BWW Review: Turning Up the Volume with the AMERICAN TAP DANCE FOUNDATION's Rhythm in Motion

The American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF), under the artistic direction of Tony Waag, presented its 5th yearly showcase Rhythm in Motion, March 29-April 2, 2017 at the Duke on 42nd Street. The series featured two distinct programs of fresh, groundbreaking tap dance choreography, with some strong and emotional statements. This is a very interesting time for tap dance as "the world has finally realized that tap dance and tap choreography can also test the audience, tell a story, be influenced by world issues and express anger, fear, sadness, and spirituality" said Mr. Waag, ATDF Artistic/Executive Director and curator of this show. The program featured some of the best and emerging tap dancers/choreographers of this time.

Rhythm in Motion is a platform to enable the art of tap dance to be presented, move forward, and grow. And it did just that! I had the amazing opportunity to see Program B.

The program opened with Partido by Leonardo Sandoval with improvisation by the dancers. This was a fun piece because it fused tap with percussion sounds. Some of the instruments used were "unusual' instruments such as plates, spoons, glass bottles, and bags of coins- all done while dancing at the same time might I add! It was a nice play on rhythms and fun to watch. Next was All My Trials, choreographed and performed by Felipe Galganni. This was an emotional number. You could definitely feel the dancer's heavy load in life in the room. Galganni has such clean and crisp sounds.

The show continued with Now and Then danced and performed by Ana "Rokafella" Garcia. This was not a tap piece per say, but rather street dance number. It discussed the frustrations of what happens when dance becomes "mainstream". I have personally struggled with the field to some extent asking myself, where do we draw the line when art gets "watered down" too much to attract a broader audience? This was followed by Apartment 33 by Chloe Arnold. This was a powerful, yet heavy piece. Arnold was very political about her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and women's rights/suffrage. As both a woman and person of color, I was very moved by this piece. There was also a slide show full of images of many influential people for both movements including the Obamas, Nelson Mandela, Misty Copeland, Gabby Douglas, Susan B. Anthony, and Hillary Clinton, just to name a few.

Next up was Fire by Gabe Winns Ortiz. This dance was all about the sounds of the taps. It wasn't flashy, nothing fancy, but that is what makes tap dance so great. The program concluded with Beats, Rhythm, and Tap Shoes by Alexandria "Brinae Ali" Bradley with live music and DJ by J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest. This was also a political piece about fighting for equal rights and how the arts have been a medium to discuss hard topics. It also showed the collaboration between tap, hip hop, and music, and its relationship to advocacy. And did I mention that Ms. Bradley has a wonderful voice?!

This was such a fantastic program. I was sad to see it end! I wanted more! The dancers and choreographers were very bold with their statements, and showed the many forms tap dance can take. They definitely turned up the volume, making tap more visible in a lot of ways.

I love tap dance. It is truly an American dance form with a rich cultural history. It is art like this that needs to be celebrated, presented, and preserved. Art is what makes this city and this country great. I applaud Mr. Waag for continuing to push the envelope forward in what tap dance was and continues to be. Thank you for tirelessly working to promote this beloved American dance form.

ATDF is a nonprofit organization that strives to make tap dance an integral and vital component of American dance through the creation, presentation, education, and preservation of tap dance. Be sure to take part in their upcoming event, Tap City- a tap dance festival based here in New York City, with a week full of activities including master classes, performances, historic tap dance tours, and awards honoring the legendary Duke Ellington. For more information, please visit their website

Photo Credit: Vitaliy Piltser

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