What Wendy's Watching

What Wendy's Watching: Dorrance Dance Taps Up An Eclectic Storm

Michelle Dorrance, Jillian Meyers, Melinda Sullivan and Josette Wiggan-Freund performing Until the Real Thing Comes Along (a letter to ourselves) at The Joyce Theater. Photo © Todd Burnsed

I'm watching Dorrance Dance's tech/dress rehearsal at the Joyce. What a blast!


Michelle Dorrance is showing two major works. The world premiere, Until The Real Thing Comes Along (a letter to ourselves), is about four women entertainers. They are fabulous tappers, and they make reference to vaudeville and other traditions of entertainment. (I swear I saw a split second of the Marx Brothers in there). But Dorrance's choreography digs underneath for deeper characterizations, for instance playing with gender. Melinda Sullivan sings a sly semi-drag version of "Night and Day;" Josette Wiggan-Freund, wearing a ruby red dress, is the fancy, girly-girl; Jillian Meyers gets left behind and shows her pluck; and Dorrance herself does a terrific non-gendered drunken solo.

Leonardo Sandoval, Gabriel Winns Ortiz, Warren Craft, Michelle Dorrance, and Claudia Rahardjanoto performing "Myelination" (2017) at The Joyce Theater. Photo © Todd Burnsed

Dorrance's Myelination is all about rhythm. The word "myelination" has something to do with synapses firing. And that's what's happening here. You may see hip hop, house and rhythm tap, and sparks fly when these forms encounter each other. House dancer Ephrat Asherie rocks the house, and gangly Warren Craft is a total original.

Dorrance is not content to just make tap numbers. She envisions the entire stage when she choreographs, and that's evident in both these pieces. Dorrance Dance is at the Joyce until Dec. 31. Click here for more info.

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