Australian Dance Reviews

The Forge Tap Project: ‘Swung Outta the Park’

The Forge Tap Project. Photo by Nicole Saleh.
The Forge Tap Project. Photo by Nicole Saleh.

University of NSW Studio One, Sydney.
25 November 2018.

If the next generation of Aussie tap dancers from The Forge Tap Project are anything to go by, it’s clear the future of tap dance is strong and flourishing.

A fantastic initiative by professional dancer and choreographer Thomas J. Egan (The Tap Pack, Singin’ in the Rain, Tap Dogs), The Forge Tap Project brings together 12 of the best tap dancers from dance schools around Sydney to participate in master classes, performances, choreography and dance films throughout the year.

Swung Outta the Park held at the University of NSW, Studio One, was a showcase of what The Forge tap students have learned this year. The cast included Anthony Garcia, Kurt Dawson, Niki Trifon, Laura Watson, Jordan Koulos, Jai Merrick, Ross Psaroulis, Emmasen May, Nicholas Mullane, Patrick Dixon, Jackson Biala and Lexie Mavromatis. Together, they are a rhythmical ensemble, sweeping the floor with cool swing beats set to jazz music.

The Forge Tap Project.

The Forge Tap Project.

The first piece, “Sensory Deprecation”, started in the dark and only the musicality of tap beats and a few whimsical squeaks could be heard with a few laughs from the audience. This set the scene for next 40 minutes filled with pure tap rhythms. The next piece, titled “Trading Places”, allowed the dancers to express themselves improvising their own four-bar time step consisting of “three and a break”, a commonly used pattern in tap dancing. Understanding tap as a musical artform was explored in Metro Gnome, with tap combinations designed to be practiced with a metronome. Keeping strict timing the dancers derived dynamics from light and shade rather than from tempo fluctuations.

Placing importance on understanding the history of tap dance, “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” was a homage to John Bubbles, Bill Bojangles, Honi Coles and Eleanor Powell, some of the most skilled tap dancers in the history of tap dance. With a single dancer on stage sitting on a chair fixing her tap shoes, the mood shifted as we heard a voice-over about these legends of tap.

The show ended in a wonderful tap jam with a live musician, giving all the dancers the opportunity to improvise for 16 counts. The personalities of each of the dancers shone as they had fun confidently creating their own rhythms to wonderful jazz standards including: “I Got Rhythm”, “Night and Day” and “Sweet Georgia Brown”. It was hard to resist not joining in.

The Forge Tap Project is a wonderful initiative that hones the talents of our next generation of tap dancers. In this showcase, the dancers not only swung it outta the park but hit a home run, too!

The Forge Tap Project is holding open tap workshops nationally with some of Australia’s leading tap dancers in January 2019. For more information, visit @forgetapproject.

By Nicole Saleh of Dance Informa. 

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