A Rhythmic Feast: "Sound Check" at DTW

April 14, 2010

Last night I caught a preview performance of the American Tap Dance Foundation’s “Sound Check” at Dance Theater Workshop. This annual series (now in its second year) aims to present tap in all its many forms—from hoofing and rhythm tap to vaudeville style show tap. This year, the show also incorporates tap on film (the mesmerizing short opener features Barbara Duffy’s fantastic feet) as well as other rhythmic forms, including flamenco and belly dancing. And “Sound Check” marks the premiere of the new American Tap Dance Orchestra, a group whose first incarnation began in 1986 and was spearheaded by ATDF artistic mentor Brenda Bufalino, her mentor and tap legend Charles “Honi” Coles and ATDF artistic director Tony Waag.

This new group (featuring DS favorite, Warren Craft!) was created to preserve choreography from the original ATDO and last night they presented two archival works: Bufalino’s “Buff Loves Basie Blues” and “Haitian Fight Song.” Both were standouts in the program, particularly “Buff Loves Basie Blues,” which was cool yet dynamic, with a range of tempos and moods.

Sprinkled throughout the show are excerpts from Bufalino’s work-in-progress, “The Last Rehearsal Hall,” a musical about the many characters who wander in and out of an old dance studio. This sort of behind-the-scenes narrative that pays homage to tap’s lineage suited “Sound Check”‘s overall goals and was amplified by film excerpts from Bufalino’s 1975 documentary, “Great Feats of Feet,” about the Copasetics. And to top off this historical theme, song-and-dance man Harold Cromer (who made his professional debut half a century ago!) performed alongside a young tap phenom, Cartier Williams, whose feet tremble with energy, both hard-hitting and gentle.

If you’re in NYC, catch “Sound Check” at Dance Theater Workshop through Sunday.