Get a child in need a pair of shoes for free
DIRECTOR: Nigel Triffitt
CAST: Members of the Tap Dogs Company
VENUE: Artscape Opera House,
Not for the first time, the sizzling sextet of male dancers known as Tap Dogs is hitting the stage (literally) in Cape Town, and whether their offering is familiar to lovers of this dance genre or whether it has all the impact of novelty for first-time spectators, there is no question that this show appeals to a broad spectrum of taste.
Tap dance is at its most engaging when performed without musical accompaniment, as this allows the dancers’ feet to create their own rhythm and initiate dialogue between the executants – and these artists have honed their technique to a fine art, giving an impression of unforced pleasure in recreational activity rather than tackling an agenda of challenges for public performance.
Those who saw Tap Dogs the last time they toured South Africa will rediscover the arresting tours de force that account for the production’s success: tap-dancing upside down with the feet doing the talking on the ceiling instead of the floor; stomping in a trough of water, to the discomfort of viewers in the front row; conducting a chatty duet for four feet while seated; incorporating balls into the choreography; tap-dancing on intersecting ramps and ladders; performing amid spectacular sparks from angle-grinders… the familiar excitement and spectacle are rekindled with unabated dynamism.
Even the humour has not changed, but as it is not related to topical events or politics, this is not necessarily a flaw. It would enhance the show, however, if some new elements could be injected into the proceedings, and if there were a re-think about the inclusion of a less-than-proficient newcomer in the cast, with attendant deliberate mishaps. Losing your footing in a sophisticated ensemble piece is amusing only the first time it happens. Thereafter it becomes predictable and, when overdone, tedious.
Although they are only featured intermittently, the two glamorous percussionists also add to the vitality of the show with perforances of stupendous energy.