Jazz on Tap

March 16, 2001

Marcus R. Alford (left) and Jason Kalish danced a
Nakelli Warriors of Dance at Jazz on Tap.

Photo courtesy Jazz on Tap

Jazz on Tap

Southern Polytechnic University
Marietta, Georgia

March 16?18, 2001

Reviewed by Sherri L. McLendon

Marcus Alford?s fourteenth annual Jazz on Tap, an Atlanta-based jazz and tap-dance festival featuring classes and performances, attracted more than forty amateur and pre-professional performance companies from fourteen Midwestern and Southern states.

Alford?s influence and years as a teacher, performer, and choreographer with Gus Giordano?s Jazz Dance Chicago are strongly felt here, as is the legacy of jazz dance as a unique performance genre. The emphasis during workshops is on technique as well as performance, building dancers with strength, flexibility, and discipline.

Choreographer Nan Giordano?s Once Upon a Time, performed by Kentucky?s Owensboro Dance Theatre, drew heavily upon the contributions of modern dance technique and composition. It featured excellent space and level changes, and Giordano?s use of balletic footwork, such as bourrée, combined with clearly articulated torso and limb isolations for a mature presentation.

Also compositionally and technically proficient was choreographer Tonya Parent?s Nightmare, performed by Southern Exposure Dance Company of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The dancers sliced through space at all levels, with prone dancers? skyward arm movements isolated for maximum effect.

Dancer?s Workshop of Detroit, Michigan, proved to be a company to watch for its performances and adaptability to various types of movement. The ensemble performed choreographer Suzette D?Andrea?s elastic, lyrically strong dance Arms Wide Open, executing explosive leaps, falls, and rolls with clarity. Then the troupe explored the concept of the dancer as a living drum in Beth Nizza and Crystal Moerschell?s Acapella. Similarly, the emerging AthensF/X of Athens, Georgia, founded in fall 2000 under the direction of Danielle Mason, looked very professional and virtually exploded with energy in Roslyn Skinner and Rachel Breault?s Seduction of Orpheus, combining strong technique, hip-hop rhythms, and multiple lifts.

Hip-hop and rave-styled moves lent a youth-savvy edginess to Dena Rizzo?s choreography, which combined attitude with athleticism. Planet Claire, performed by Karavan Moving Company of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Who?s In the House by Dena Rizzo and Dancers deserve mention. Karavan?s Rhythm Makers, choreographed by director Christie Karavan, gave a hip-hop reinterpretation to the children?s song “Shortening Bread,” while the Mobile, Alabama-based company The Melinda Leigh Dancers performed a funky, strongly gymnastic A.M. Radio and Stronger, which combined staccato and sustained movement.