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© 2017 The Strand Magazine

'Tap Dogs' - The Peacock Theatre

October 25, 2018

Tuesday 23 October - Saturday 10 November

Tickets: £15 - £45

When you say to someone ‘I love tap’ the first thing that comes to mind tends to be a chorus line stuck in the 1920s, but that all changed in 2000 when Dein Perry’s troupe the Tap Dogs smashed the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympics and with it the stereotype about tap as the dance of a by gone era.

 

18 years later and Tap Dog’s return to Sadler’s Well proves that the team is as electrifying as ever! In this production, the Peacock Theatre transforms into a construction site in which every surface can be used to make a sound; and the team, consisting of 6 dancers and 2 percussionists, become the workers led by foreman Anthony Russo.

 

The set begins as a simple red tap floor on which the 6 dancers introduce themselves in a series of solos that demonstrate every technique in the book. From here they begin to move around the stage which uses all materials from wooden floors to steel beams giving all the sequences new layers of sound.

 

 

Throughout the show the energy only builds first with the introduction of props such as basketballs adding rhythmical complexity and then torches drawing the focus to the percussive nature of the tap. The momentum then builds again with a series of elaborate set changes in which the staging becomes a 3-dimensional surface with dancers jumping between ladders and even performing call and response upside down.

 

What really brings this show to life is the dynamic between the performers. During the opening solos, each uses their distinct style of tapping to illustrate a character: from the professional and directive foreman, to the youngest in the team keen to learn the ropes. The team feels like a group of friends going through their day at work with wit and banter as they throw riffs around and crack jokes at one another’s expense. It’s this dynamic which translates beautifully into the tapping as the texture of the beats builds up in layers, often starting with a single riff that is then played on, responded to, and reversed like a witty conversation for the audience to follow along with. The audience also becoming a source of rhythm in itself, being encouraged to click or clap a base beat for the dancers to use.

 

This production really is a showcase of everything that tap can be, as a dance style, rhythmical conversation, and a challenge to master; but despite the intricacy of the steps and constantly moving steps all 6 of the dancers move with an enviable coolness. Everything is performed in impeccable patterns of canon, call and response, and textural layering while the dancers shout one another, building the momentum consistently for the whole 80 mins.

 

This is a show that is powerful, gritty, and makes the tap buzz; a perfect welcome to the genre for people who don’t know the style, and for those already invested, a pure celebration of everything that makes tap so versatile and genuinely exciting.

 

 

 

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