The highly acclaimed "Tap Dogs" perform at Morris Performing Arts Center
By AMANDA GRECO
Associate Scene Editor
The Broadway Theatre League will present "Tap Dogs" at the Morris Performing Arts Center, Thursday Oct. 18 and Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m..
Created in 1995 by choreographer Dein Perry, "Tap Dogs" has received critical acclaim on stages across the globe. Comprised of six performers from Australia, England, Canada and the United States, the cast of "Tap Dogs" has become one of the most successful groups of international performers, having won 11 awards around the world.
"Tap Dogs" is the realization of Perry's lifelong dream. Perry began dancing at a young age in Newcastle, Australia; however, adolescence found Perry moving on to a job as a union industrial mechanic.
After six years, Perry left that job to pursue his true passion for performance. After achieving much on-stage success and building a solid reputation as a talented dancer, Perry struck out to create his own group and his own show.
With the funding of a government grant, Perry formed Tap Brothers, a dance group including Perry's childhood dancer friends. Perry then choreographed "Hot Shoe Shuffle," featuring the Tap Brothers, and earned his first Olivier Award for best choreography. Riding the tails of this success, Perry joined forces with designer/director Nigel Triffitt and composer Andrew Wilkie to create "Tap Dogs." Perry's desire to create a show true to his own life experiences served as the impetus for the storyline. Perry again received the Olivier award in1996 for "Tap Dogs," becoming the first person to win a second, consecutive award and the youngest holder of two Oliviers. "Tap Dogs" earned further accolades for Perry when it debuted in North America in 1997, where Perry received the Drama Desk award for choreography along with the 1997 New York Obie award.
The atmosphere of this show is far from the traditional tap ensembles harkening back to the swing era of the '40s. Dubbed "testosterone tap" by British reviewers, "Tap Dogs" is a strong showing of talent and surroundings.
Everything from the costuming to the sound, lighting and set projects the blue-collar harshness emblematic of the industrial lifestyle on which "Tap Dogs" focuses. The dancers are clothed in jeans and tank tops (which stay on until the dancers become too hot) and wear their taps screwed onto the bottom of Blundstones, a popular brand of Australian work boots. Two musicians perform the hard-rock style music live on stage. "We amplify the sound to get a rock 'n' roll edge," Perry told the Los Angeles Times. "We use heavy metal guitar in it and try to get the level of sound up to really huge, to the level of a rock 'n' roll band," Perry added.
Perry aims to create as much noise as possible. The work-site sound is emphasized by the dancers who actually construct the set piece by piece as the show progresses. "The guys build the set and then dance all over it," Perry said.
The final product is a set like a construction site, full of metal and wood, ramps, scaffolding and girders. Using different surfaces, the dancers can create different sounds with their taps. "I like getting on metal," Perry told the Los Angeles Times. "You get a huge amount of noise out of it."
The tapping even extends into water at some points of the show, offering a new sound and a dangerous feat for the dancers. Perry feels this adds to the hard and tough image of the show. To keep the momentum going, the 90-minute show has no intermission.
Riding the wave of performance reform begun by artists such as "Blue Man Group," and shows such as "Stomp" and "Bring on da' noise, bring on da' funk," "Tap Dogs" further revolutionizes traditional methods for the creation of sound and pushes the limits of conventional dance performance.
Student tickets are available for $20, and discounts are available for senior citizens and groups. Call (219) 234-4044 for more information and tickets.
Contact Amanda Greco at email@example.com.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, October 10, 2001