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Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012

Danceworks on Tap Pursues a Rhythmic Phenomenon

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“The Pursuit of Tappyness” is the title of this summer's annual concert by Danceworks on Tap (DOT). Steps and styles will be tracked down the corridors of history to the present in three performances at the Danceworks Studio Theatre, Aug. 10-12.

The concert of 10 new numbers will be interrupted now and then for choreographed tap “lessons” by DOT members Kelly Drake and Rachel Payden, who will demonstrate how the steps and terminology are linked to the colorful history of this irresistible art of marking time by tapping toes and heels. “People often think they could never tap dance, but they can,” insists DOT's founding choreographer, Amy Brinkman-Sustache. During interactive moments of Drake and Payden's vignettes, audiences will get the chance to prove her wrong.

Brinkman-Sustache will offer three dances made in specific response to music by pianist/composer Oscar Peterson, flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook and the Japanese drum group Kodo. “The rhythms jump out at me plain as day,” she says of her choreographic process. She's also choreographed a lighthearted duet for herself and the youngest company dancer, her 14-year-old daughter Gabrielle, to music by the American pop-rocker Jason Mraz.

In the comic “Tapology” by Brinkman-Sustache and company member Faith Halaska, the younger Sustache refuses to dance to a remix of Jerome Kern's “I Won't Dance” when she's given Broadway choreography to execute. The “moms” adore the cheesy showstoppers.

DOT's Annette Grefig contributed two pieces. “I'm Okay,” for herself and Payden to a song by Ingrid Michaelson in which the title is insistently repeated, shows girlfriends “talking” in fast rhythms, finishing one another's sentences. Grefig is also a modern dancer, but prefers choreographing tap, she says, “because it doesn't start by having to be about something. It's rhythmic, almost mathematical, which I love. By the end, it is about something.”

With guest artist Molly Mingey, a talented dancer/choreographer appearing everywhere this season, Grefig will dance “Tap Talk” to music performed live by D'Amato, a Milwaukee rap-R&B-funk guitarist and singer. Distinguished guest artists Lamont “Julio” Johnson and Adam Hess are returning soloists. The company will also perform “Drop Beat,” choreographed for this concert by former member Dylan Baker to an instrumental by Lil Wayne.

“Danceworks on Tap: The Pursuit of Tappyness” will be performed 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10-11 and 2:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at Danceworks Studio Theatre, 1661 N. Water St. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended. For more information, call 414-277-8480, ext. 6025, or visit www.danceworksmke.org.