Sparks Fly Between Jared Grimes and Lil Buck

April 3, 2016

The latest example of dance fusion took place last weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Two stars from different firmaments of the dance world collided: tapper Jared Grimes and Memphis jooker Charles “Lil Buck” Riley. The evening, called “Spaces,” was led by Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

A still shot from The Late Show, with Lil Buck at left and Jared Grimes at right.

Of course, it wasn’t really fusion. Judging from this clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Grimes and Riley both stuck to their own forms. But they borrowed a bit from each other, and the synergy was pretty exciting. Grimes went on pointe for a split second à la Lil Buck, and Lil Buck got jazzy in the knees, echoing Grimes. But while Grimes was strongly energetic, Lil Buck drifted in as though on a cloud.

This duo was masterminded by Damian Woetzel, who has also paired Tyler Peck and Bill Irwin with a happy result. Woetzel knows that you get bursts of energy when you bump two different forms up against each other—like rubbing two sticks together to make fire. Methinks he’s been learning that at Vail International Dance Festival, where he has been a forward-thinking impresario. 

In this case, the two dancers shared the common ground of Marsalis’ jazzy music; he and his band gave the dancing that special swing. It’s cool to see Marsalis smiling, even with trumpet to lips, as he watches these two superstars dancing. When he’s not playing, he’s jouncing in rhythm as though he wishes he were dancing too.

Jared Grimes, Dance Magazine, May 2007

Lil Buck, Dance Magazine, Aug. 2013











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