Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 9, 2015

Dorrance Dance: A Tap and Musical Sensation

Jacobs Pillow, Becket, MA
through July 5, 2015
by Mary Ann Dennis

“Listen to my feet and I will tell you the story of my life” was the line from the “pre-talk” that resonates. In The Blues Project, Michelle Dorrance returns to Jacobs Pillow with her all-star dancers featuring tap soloists Derick K. Grant and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards as well the stirring and soulful live music by renowned folk/blues composer Toshi Reagon and her band BIGLovely.

According to the New Yorker, Dorrance is “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today”. Not knowing what is being played each night, Dorrance gets a lovely surprise by Reagon's sparking excellent improv tap/music you. A great dialogue is "spoken" between these musicians as a distinctive style that is incredibly thrilling to watch musically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Dorrance notes that since she was 18-years old, she wanted to work with Toshi Reagon because she wields music the way Dorrance wields tap. This is a rock concert with guitarists' instruments seemingly to a conversing. That is exactly what the audience sees and feels from the musicians and dancers and between the dancers themselves.

Grant, a known Broadway dancer, defies nature on his toes as he slides through syncopations. Sumbry-Edwards, former tap coach to Michael Jackson, rattles off music with her feet. Amazing.

This hour-long show runs straight through, connecting one phase to another. The moments between each are sensitive, overlapping as one or two artists remain onstage while the next moment starts. Each dancer showcases his/her ability and personality in solos within the numbers and duets. The troupe's unison percussions are jaw dropping.

A few words about lighting -- the design sets the mood perfectly for the lively choreography, making it all quite a visually intriguing production.

A big “thank you” to the cast for keeping the tap alive! Dorrance is a two for one deal: You get a deal: music AND dance. Music AND Dance.