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Tap Affect

Tap Affect
The Australian Tap Dance Company
Riverside Theatre
December 15 – 17, 2021

The newly formed Australian Tap Dance Company is the inspiration of founders, Peta Anderson, Jack Egan, Thomas J. Egan and Brianna Taylor. They hope to bring both virtuosic and feel-good tap dance works to an Australian audience and have gathered together an ensemble of skilful, dedicated and entertaining tap dance performers.

For many people tap dance is till associated with American movies – with Bill Robinson, Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, Shirley Temple and later Gene Kelly – and a feel-good, up-beat mood. The performance gives a nod to the musical in a lively number by Julian Bonser and Reid Perry with vaudevillian black hats and the very athletic jumping of scarves.

While the advent of sound technology extended the reach of an already popular vaudeville and nightclub entertainment the origin of percussive dancing has a long history. West African step dances, European clog dances and various jigs and hornpipes went into the mix that became the dynamic urban form of tap and its various styles. African roots are recalled in a short bare foot slapping routine performed to drumbeat (Andy Freeborn) by Michaella Mead, Charlie Cameron, Reid Perry and Julian Bonser.

As the narrator points out human beings are accustomed to rhythm evolving in the womb to the accompaniment of their mothers’ heartbeat. Young children love repetitive rhythms and become fully engaged in bodily movements that accompany rhymes or songs.

And so it seems, to borrow from a Gershwin song performed by a glamorous Peta Anderson, “we’ve all got rhythm” as we respond to the dancers striking the floor in traditional and innovative rhythms with rapt attention. How is it that the elegant Thomas J Egan and the vigorous Jack Egan can make complex demanding rhythms seem so effortless, so mesmerising?

Within the group there is room for fun and challenge but nevertheless there is a different aesthetic at work reflecting contemporary interest in the journey both of the individual, of the group and of tap as an art form. Expect to hear more of this innovative company in the future.

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theatre@ssh.com.au

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