Tapestry Dance Company

Word up, rhythm!

Matt Shields
Matt Shields

When you see the word "rhythm" in front of "tap," it's not there just to take up space – it's your reminder that this art form is about more than the sound of dancing across a field of firecrackers. It's about using those taps as instruments, the way a percussionist uses mallets or sticks to sound out complicated cadences, invigorating pulses, heart-quickening beats – in short, to make music. In recent shows, nationally acclaimed Tapestry Dance Company has been making rhythm even more explicit in its tap work, encouraging its dancers to play off jazz, improvising steps and sounds like soloists in a combo.

Now, Artistic Director Acia Gray is exploring how the rhythms created by her dancers' feet play out against rhythms made by a mouth – not singing, but speaking. The opener to Tapestry's 2010-2011 season, Voices of Rhythm, brings spoken word into the mix, with poet/hip-hop theatre artist Zell Miller III – an "inventive and incendiary wordsmith" and "dazzling stringer-together of words and bringer of truth," as we've called the multiple award-winner in these pages – laying down the linguistic moves against the footwork of the fast-tapping Tapestry corps.

By the by, you'll see some new feet in that crew this season. To fill the spots vacated by Jacqueline Coleman, Katelyn Thompson, Tony Merriwether, and Jason Janas, University of Texas Department of Theatre & Dance grad Kirstin Grbic, Ballet Afrique dancer Adriana Ray, Montreal native Tanya Rivard, and Travis Knights – fresh off the national tour of Tap Dogs – join company members Siobhan Cook, Brenna Kuhn, and Matthew Shields. Welcome them.

Voices of Rhythm runs Oct. 29-31, Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 2pm, at the Rollins Studio Theatre in the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside. For more information, call 474-9846 or visit www.tapestry.org.

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