Dance on the Edge taps into cheerful rhythms

April 01, 1996|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The long-awaited return of the Dance on the Edge Series took place Saturday night at Towson State University's Stephens Hall Theatre with dance performances more on the periphery than on the edge of modern dance.

With co-performances of New York-based tap dancer, Anita Feldman, the Washington group, Tappers With Attitude and Towson faculty member Debbie Meyers, the series celebrated the world of tap dancing. Ms. Meyers, who is also the Dance on the Edge series producer and managing director, cheerily told the audience that the art of tap dancing is close to her heart (she teaches it at TSU), and that she plans an annual tap festival as part of the series.

Ms. Meyers' duet "Ginger Becomes a Feminist, Fred's Not Happy" opened the evening. A tongue-in-cheek look at stereotyped boy-girl dancing and relationships, Ms. Meyers and partner, Darrell G. Moultrie gleefully mugged and hammed and tapped their way through their dance to the delight of the audience.

The first half of the program was devoted to Tappers With Attitude, a multi-cultural ensemble of young women and men from the District of Columbia who are highly gifted with spirit and talent.

Co-directed by Yvonne Edwards and TSU alumna, Renee Kreithen the company explored various rhythmic avenues in their program's four works. Interspersed between the dances were cool musical interludes provided by TWA music director, Joe Harris along with Glen Douglas and Myrna Sislen, that acted as buffers between performances.

A highlight of the program was "All Blues/Tacit/Latin" a work that juxtaposed the smartness of modern jazz rhythms with the complexities of flamenco.

Anita Feldman may be the only dancer to apply for a patent. Her Tap Dance Instrument, a raised floor constructed of various woods and metals is more than just a gimmick, it is an instrument that relays various pitches depending on how and where it is struck. Ms. Feldman, however, is more than just someone who has invented the ultimate tap floor, she is also a mean dancer.

Opening the second half of the program was her work, "Twister" performed by Rhonda Price on the Tap Dance Instrument. Here, the footfalls of the dancer became the accompanying percussion to an original music score by Ms. Feldman and Lois V. Vierk. It sounds odd but if you closed your eyes, you wouldn't know someone was dancing.

Ms. Feldman's "Landings Takeoff" was a wonderful dialogue between dancer and percussionist Gary Schall. Ms. Feldman displayed her wicked sense of rhythm against that of Mr. Schall, then Ms. Price took her turn with a more laid-back, yet still intricate, attack. It was helpful that at one point, Ms. Feldman left her instrument and took to the floor, which gave us a visual relief.

"Tapping Music" a wonderful upbeat trio, had Mr. Schall, Ms. Feldman and Ms. Price wittily tapping and clapping out contrasting rhythms so quickly that the whole dance became a delightful blur of happy feet and hands.

Pub Date: 4/01/96

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