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Flash Review 3, 2-21: Tip Top Tap Fusion
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 Burrows.

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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