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Flash Review 3, 2-21: Tip Top Tap
Not-so-Still Life with Blumenfeld
By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carr
NEW YORK -- With rhythm as his raison
d'etre, Barry Blumenfeld's Tap Fusion is part experiment and part entertainment.
His mission is to find an innovative blend of tap and modern dance. Along the
way, Blumenfeld incorporates live music and a certain dramatic flair. These elements
make the formal, rather cerebral, process of fusion both accessible and enjoyable
for the viewer. Each of the three works presented at the Williamsburg Art neXus
earlier this month was driven by the emotions of real life events.
"Sheva B'Rachot" is Hebrew for the
"Seven Blessings" that are an important part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. Blumenfeld
interpreted the first blessing as a hypnotic circle within which the dancers added
mesmerizing arm and torso movements on top of rhythms that slowly built in intensity.
Jennifer Uzzi's solo, representing the third blessing, was a further rhythmic
study that utilized full body percussion. Uzzi developed her sequences with a
precision and deliberateness that was extremely satisfying to watch. "Sheva B'Rachot"
was inspired by Blumenfeld's own wedding, but it also celebrated the marriage
of live music and dance with a beautiful score written and performed by Katie
Down, along with vocalists Nikki Maack and Suzie Mellring and percussionist Greg
Erik Jekaboson's innovative score
for strings was performed live during "Subway Observations." The rhythmic clacking
of dancers' taps combined with the occasional, but deliberate, screech of the
violin to create a remarkably accurate soundscape of a journey on the MTA. Blumenfeld's
humorous treatment of familiar scenes -- waiting impatiently for the train, pushing
to get ahead in line, grimacing as a stranger stands too close to you -- was captured
particularly well by Enid Smith.
In his new solo, "Still Life with
Dancer, " Blumenfeld again displayed a penchant for self-deprecating humor that
works well with the audience. A series of vignettes portrayed a tap dancer not
fitting into a ballet class, not fitting inot a club scene, not fitting in with
anyone but himself. Both his comedic and rhythmic timing were dead on and the
work was a crowd pleaser, drawing audible laughter from the house. I only wish
he'd elongated the rhythmic sequences, because they were very good and I wanted
to see more.
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