The North Door
"...The great American art form of rhythm tap couldn't ask for a more graceful practitioner or more committed advocate than Acia Gray, and now it's giving her a great big thank you. On July 10, the American Tap Dance Foundation will honor the co-founder and longtime artistic director of Tapestry Dance Company with a Hoofer Award, presented to prominent tap artists for "their unique contribution to the form and for inspiring future generations." Those of us who have been fortunate to see Gray's masterful footwork on local stages for three decades, her skill as a choreographer of tap, and her company memers' proficiency in the form know how deserving of such an honor she is..."
"...First, Acia Gray was a leading force of rhythm tap in Austin, then around the country. Now, the co-founder and artistic director of Tapestry Dance Company will be a leading force for tap in the world, by virtue of her new position as president of the International Tap Association..."
"...Acia Gray never expected dance to be the death of her...."
"...Acia Gray has been dancing in this community for so long, it might not occur to most people that there's something radical about her. But there is, and it's this: She's a woman who taps...."
"...Anyone who knows Acia Gray knows it takes a helluva lot to keep that tenacious hoofer off her feet. In her 30-plus years of dancing professionally, you can probably count the times that something's kept her out of her tap shoes on one set of toes..."
"...photograph by Kenny Braun It isn't exactly the best time to be talking with Acia Gray. As a rule, three weeks out from a big performance is not the point when an artist working on that performance is going to be just bursting with confidence about what he or she is doing..."
"...Tapestry set itself quite the challenge when it took on the task of re-creating more than a dozen historic rhythm tap routines from Hollywood's golden age and the heyday of vaudeville for its 2006-2007 season. Artistic Director Acia Gray and her company members wouldn't be just trying to dance like Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers and Eleanor Powell and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson..."
"..."Always leave 'em wanting more," goes the old showbiz adage, and you could have accused Tapestry Dance Company Artistic Director Acia Gray of violating this sacred precept with her revised edition of The Souls of Our Feet: The program boasted eight new re-creations of classic rhythm-tap routines from the vaudeville stage and silver screen, adding up to four more numbers than the honored original had. But the show itself proved no less rousing than before..."
"...Last fall, Acia Gray could scarcely move, the pain and exhaustion from aggravated health problems having crippled the Tapestry artistic director. Eight months ago, she led her dance company through a comeback show, the intensity of which signaled a fierce resolve to survive..."
"...It's a work that combines rhythm tap, live jazz, and spoken word by guest artist Ebony Stewart to spin its story of youthful dreams and inspiration. The Chronicle checked in with Shields to find out what kind of dreamer he was when he came to Tapestry, how he and the company have changed, and how it feels to be the first person besides Tapestry founders Acia Gray and Deirdre Strand to create an entire stage production for the company...."
"...The last time Tapestry Dance Company presented the program Swingin' Then & Now, the multiform dance troupe had just turned pro, and Acia Gray was still in her first season of flying solo as artistic director, her co-founder and partner Deirdre Strand having surrendered her co-artistic directorship for a position at St. Stephen's School..."
"...• Speaking of free dance classes, Tapestry Dance Company has started offering free introductory dance classes for adults and teens every Saturday at 11am. The first Saturday of each month is introduction to rhythm tap, taught by Tapestry co-founder and Artistic Director Acia Gray..."
"...If one dance had to stand for the history of Tapestry Dance Company -- and given the varied styles and moods this troupe encompasses, that's asking an awful lot -- it might well be this one: Acia Gray's Biorhythms, taken from solo series From the Inside Out. In it, Gray's beleaguered dancer is an accomplished artist whose movements inspire joy but whose labors and achievements are consistently challenged, diminished, dismissed..."
"...The show's first half featured a tour of Austin's carousing spots, starting early in the evening "On the Banks of Auditorium Shores" and winding up at "2:00 AM, Somewhere on Sixth Street." These superbly performed and choreographed pieces succeeded in capturing the spirit of some of Austin's premier haunts. Take "One Too Many at the Broken Spoke," a drunken riff of a Texas two-step set to the Derailers tune "Country-a-Go-Go." It featured casual, wobbly-legged, and, well, wasted-looking choreography (by company members Tasha Lawson and Poet Powell, with Acia Gray) that belied the control and technique required of the dancers (Lawson and Powell)..."
"...It's a Friday afternoon in early November, and Acia Gray, director of Tapestry Dance Company, is clearly disturbed by the escaping time. Back in the rehearsal studio after a two-city tour, the company has only two weeks to put together its new evening-length piece, Footprints..."
"...And now it's Tchaikovsky's irresistible rhythms – and, in fact, rhythm itself – that is inspiring the latest dance variation on The Nutcracker, what Tapestry Dance Company Artistic Director Acia Gray considers an Austin-tatious spin on the yuletide perennial. In Of Mice & Music, which opens at Salvage Vanguard Theater on Monday, dance isn't just the medium for telling the story, it's the message, with the tale's enchanted cracker of nuts now representing tap and introducing girl heroine Clara to a world of rhythm, embodied in a new hepped-up version of Tchaikovsky's score by local jazz trio Blue J...."
"...In 2006, Tapestry Dance Company Artistic Director Acia Gray set her company the daunting challenge of re-creating live onstage a number of classic rhythm tap routines immortalized on film. We're talking routines by top-of-the-line masters: Eleanor Powell, Fred Astaire, the Nicholas Brothers, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, et al..."
"...The first one, JASS, was originally staged just after September 11, and in the four years since, the company has seen almost a complete turnover in the corps of dancers. The Chronicle checked in with Artistic Director Acia Gray to find out what it's been like revisiting an old show with new dancers...."
"...On a Monday afternoon, tap legend Acia Gray watches two Tapestry Dance Company members run a routine. As they swing through the song's irresistible chorus -- "Strangers in the night/Two lonely people, we were strangers in the night" -- the company's other dancers clap and cheer..."
"...The other change might be categorized as unexpected, although it brings with it a whiff of déjà vu. Deirdre Strand, the choreographer who co-founded Tapestry Dance Company with Acia Gray and has shared the artistic direction of the company with Gray for almost the entirety of its 10-year existence, is resigning her leadership role with the company at the end of the current season..."