This summer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, tap program director Michelle Dorrance curated a mixed repertory program that showcased the best of the best in tap innovation. Four extremely diverse acts graced the stage of the Ted Shawn Theatre for a one-of-a-kind tap extravaganza. Here are three of our favorite tap trends that we hope to see much more of.
1.Tap and jazz music go hand in hand: OK, so this isn’t so much of a trend as an integral facet of tap history and culture, but in TIRELESS, tap dance and jazz music were fused like never before. Brother/sister duo Joseph Wiggan and Josette Wiggan-Freund brought tracks by Duke Ellington to life in their harmonious duet, part choreographed, part improvised. Later, Jumaane Taylor of Chicago’s M.A.D.D. Rhythms closed the show with Supreme Love—a reverent, yet crowd-pleasing tribute to John Coltrane.
Joe Orrach in In My Corner. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow
2.Tap + theater = #winning: Joe Orrach’s blend of dance and theater in In My Corner was a recipe for success. With first-person narration, live music and even some boxing segments with a punching bag, Orrach shared a heartfelt interpretation of his journey from welterweight boxing champion to tap choreographer. With all eyes on Orrach, you could hear a pin drop in the theater.
Reona and Takashi Seo in Aun. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow
3.Improvisation at its finest: In Aun, Reona and Takashi Seo showed the audience the extent to which two performers can be on the same wavelength. With Takashi on upright bass and Reona tapping, the pair carried on a completely improvised musical conversation, pushing their respective instruments to the limits. At one point Reona tapped on top of and then inside a metal bucket while Takashi riffed off her rhythms on bass.
For more on TIRELESS, check out the postshow talk with Michelle Dorrance and the performers.