Tap billing

By Yang Fan Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-1 17:33:01

Worldwide hit dance show looks at the lives of construction workers

Australian dance spectacle Tap Dogs is stepping into Shanghai this month after sweeping through 330 cities across six continents.

The global hit features high-octane dance numbers, electrifying theatrical performances and explosive live music, bringing an imaginary construction site to life in 80 minutes of nonstop revelry. It's a celebration of both the strength of the working man and tap dancing talent, keeping everyone on their toes from start to finish.

The show starts with a single dancer building up the anticipation by showing off some skillful moves, before building into an uninterrupted assault of humor and energy on a variety of unusual surfaces like steel and water to create different sounds and rhythms.

A scene from Australian stage show Tap Dogs Photo: Courtesy of Qianshuiwan Culture Center

As the show progresses, six inexhaustible Aussie dancers decked out in street and work gear will tap their way around an industrial stage, dribbling basketballs, jumping through scaffolding, sloshing around in water and dancing upside down on the ceiling or against a backdrop of fireworks, flying sparks and metal grinders.

Dein Perry, Olivier Award-winning choreographer and creator of Tap Dogs, said that while there's no direct audience participation, those in the front rows may get a little splashed with water kicked up by the dancers, or have a ball land in their lap.

A scene from Australian stage show Tap Dogs Photo: Courtesy of Qianshuiwan Culture Center

"It is a very raw and skillful show, so funny things do happen from time to time. That's the great thing about live theater," he said.

According to Perry, the set will start out looking like a simple small stage at the beginning of the performance. It will then open out into all sorts of configurations as the show goes on, with components including ramps, ladders, ropes, pulleys, girders, lots of steel and power tools. "One hour and 20 minutes of pulling ropes, running up ladders, tapping across ramps and setting up scaffolding. We're athletes as well as dancers," Chaise Rossiello, one of the performers, said.

The show features six characters played by an adrenalin-pumping macho lineup. Leading the pack is Douglas Mills (Foreman), along with Sheldon Perry (21C), James Doubtfire (Rat), Chaise Rossiello (Funky), Richie Miller (Enforcer) and Nathaniel Hancock (Kid). "There is no script or dialogue in the show, but people will invest in the characters," Perry said.

A third of the show's music will be generated solely by the tapping sound of the performers' feet. Dancers will create a variety of footwork rhythms by clicking the steel plates on the bottom of their shoes. As Rossiello pointed out, "tap dancing is not just dance; it's musical. Tap-dancers become musical instruments and the audience can hear our feet. We're creating songs and joining in with the music; it's sort of mesmerizing."

Two live musicians, Lyndsay Evans and Noriko Terada, will play mainly percussion and also get involved in the banter and slapstick that take place onstage. Other sections will be accompanied by a rock music score.

Tap Dogs became an instant success during the Sydney Theatre Festival where it made its world debut in January 1995. It went on to play at the Edinburgh Festival, Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, a West End engagement and a production in New York.

The show has won 15 international awards including a Pegasus Award at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and an Obie award from the Village Voice for its off-Broadway production in New York.

The internationally acclaimed troupe returned to Australia in 2000 to perform at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games, wowing an audience of 3.4 billion viewers when the event was televised worldwide.

"Tap Dogs evolves all the time so there will always be something new in the show," Perry told the Global Times. No wonder The Times of London once claimed that the birth of Tap Dogs, as a milestone in world dance history, means "tap dancing will never be the same again."

The troupe was started in Perry's hometown of Newcastle, Australia, where Perry worked as an industrial machinist.

Small chorus parts in Broadway-style musicals led to his big break in show business. He then decided to create a contemporary work based on his industrial experiences with his Newcastle tap dancing partners. Tap Dogs was born. "I was very interested in exploring contemporary forms of tap dance, but also wanted to be able to do this for my job," Perry said. "I therefore created a dance that would hopefully appeal to a commercial audience as well. The idea behind the show was to treat tap dance as an instrument of its own and feature it and put that to modern-day music."

Date: Tuesday to September 21 (except September 9 and 15)

Venue: Qianshuiwan Culture Center


Address: 179 Yichang Road


Tickets: 150 yuan ($24.42) to 880 yuan

Call 6232-7582 for details

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Dance, Culture

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