BWW Review: LOTUS at The Kennedy Center
It's a real shame that you can't buy a ticket to a performance of Lotus, an exhilarating night of tap dancing and jazz excellence. That's because the performance was a one-night only, sold out reunion of tap dancers Joseph Webb, Baakari Wilder, Omar Edwards, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Derick Grant, and Jason Samuels Smith who first met while performing in the Broadway show Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk. I left the Kennedy Center's newly remodeled Terrace Theater on Saturday night upset that future audiences will not have the opportunity to experience this amazing show.
The evening certainly felt like a reunion of old friends. The dancers' joy and ease with each other was palpable. These good feelings extended to the audience. During a last curtain call dance, Omar Edwards shouted "welcome to our living room!", formally extending the invitation to join his family of music and dance. The dancers made it easy to clap along and gasp at the execution of a perfect step: we were all in it together.
The amount of talent on display was truly stunning. All six dancers were able to coax the most complicated rhythms out of their shoes without breaking a sweat. When they danced together, they executed choreography and improvised flawlessly.
They weren't dancers so much as musicians, creating beautiful interlocking rhythms. Speaking of musicians, the excellent work of the Lafayette Harris Jr. Quintet also deserves praise. The quintet was an impressively tight band in it's own right and complimented the dancers perfectly.
The performance was named after the lotus flower in order to honor the history of tap; just like the lotus flower grows out of the mud, tap dance has grown out of the struggle of being black in America. Each dancer paid tribute to this legacy by tapping over a recording of themselves speaking about the black leaders and dancers that inspired them. These tributes felt natural and genuine, and made me wish that the legacy of tap was more widely celebrated.
If you are able to catch any of the dancers from Lotus in one of their other artistic endeavors (Joseph Webb and Baakari Wilder are both D.C. natives), I highly recommend you do so. If that's not possible, you should investigate what else is playing at the new Terrace Theater, which is now a truly beautiful space and is hosting a range of diverse performances throughout the fall.