Contemporary tap company hosts week of events

Madison Weaver, Staff Writer

“I was so impressed with the whole atmosphere and energy of the company; it was so inclusive, it was so respectful of all dance, it was so honoring of the ancestry of tap, it was so playful,” Associate Professor of Dance Kelly Knox said in reference to Dorrance Dance’s performance in the Weis Center.

On Jan. 29, the contemporary tap dance group earned a standing ovation following its performance. The group was active on campus throughout the week leading up to the performance, as it hosted a free tap class for University and community dancers on Jan. 27, facilitated a discussion in the Weis Center lobby on the afternoon of the event, and held a question-and-answer session following the show. 

“I loved that [the master tap class] was multi-generational. There were six-year-olds there, there were 65-year-olds there,” Knox said.

The show was separated into four pieces and experimented with different tap styles, incorporating both modern and traditional aspects of the art form. The performance featured leather-soled shoes that paid homage to older techniques, but also incorporated modern, creative rhythms in integrating metal chains and clapping.

“This was definitely one of my favorite shows,” Megan Summers ’19 said. “The style was really unique and unforgettable. I was so impressed with the artistry of the choreography and the athleticism of the dancers.”

The show was choreographed by Michelle Dorrance, the founder and artistic director of Dorrance Dance. Some pieces were performed a cappella style, while others arranged the sounds and movements of the dancers to live singing and musical instrumentation. Some of the performers themselves sang lead vocals for the pieces.

“You don’t think of dancers being musicians, but I feel like they were musicians first; some just happened to play their feet,” Knox said.

“I really enjoyed the a cappella in the beginning, especially because [Michelle Dorrance] taught us a part of dance in the class that they performed [on Wednesday]. It felt like they valued us as dancers,” Trevor Kunz ’19 said.

“[Michelle Dorrance] shared her passion, shared her skills … it was more than just a master class; it was something that planted a seed for really understanding where you come from as a dancer and as a human being,” Knox said.

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