Tapestry Dance Company's Austintatious (Too)

This revival of a 2002 production paid tribute to the spirit of the city but also showed how the troupe embodies its best qualities


Acia Gray in “Waterworks: Agua Dulce” (Photo by Stephen Pruitt)

The title of the first number in this season opener for Tapestry Dance Company placed us "On the Banks of Auditorium Shores," and as soon as the bluesy kick of "Pride and Joy" hit our ears, we knew exactly where on the shores we were. Stevie Ray's statue was as fitting a spot as any for a choreographic celebration of Austin to begin, just as it was in 2002 when Tapestry debuted Austintatious at the Paramount Theatre.

The current company members immediately showed themselves to be full of Austin spirit, and watching them strut across the Rollins Theatre stage – joy on their faces, pride in their strides – wasn't just delightful; it was rejuvenating. It had you feeling as young as you were when you first saw Stevie Ray's statue or maybe even when you first heard him pluck magic from his electric guitar.

That wasn't the only instance when this show elicited a sense of the years shifting. Time made itself felt throughout – as much as, if not more so than, the city. After all, here was Tapestry marking the start of its 30th season with a show it premiered 17 years before. All of the dancers who had performed in it then have been long gone from the troupe, and the artists now filling their tap shoes were kids during that first run. The songs they're moving to now qualify as golden oldies, with some of them played by Austin bands and musicians who, like Stevie Ray, are no longer with us: Tony Campise, Daniel Johnston, the Asylum Street Spankers. The dances themselves reflected Tapestry's original character as a multiform company, performing contemporary ballet and modern dance alongside rhythm tap. Nowhere was that more evident than in the closing piece, "Waterworks: Agua Dulce," which had the dancers doing abstract moves, using handkerchiefs to kneel on and cover their faces, and imitating birds and other kinds of wildlife. Choreographer Dee McCandless, a major figure in dance locally in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, also had company co-founder and Executive/Artistic Director Acia Gray – the constant through Tapestry's three decades – periodically pass through the scene, transferring water from one jar to another, aging visibly with each appearance. Watching Gray move more and more slowly, her back arching and shoulders slumping, her feet shuffling, the sense of time passing – not just in us but also in this company – was inescapable.

That isn't to say, though, that the moment suggested time bearing down on and crushing Gray or Tapestry. On the contrary, every other appearance by Gray revealed her to be defying age, her steps the most eloquent and effortless of any on stage. Her tap dancing is its own language, capable of expressing elation, seduction, longing, grace, and music isn't just something she dances to; it's what she gets inside of and bonds with, her feet and body at one with the rhythm. The present company is well on its way to where she is, its five dancers showing us how they connect with the rhythm and expressing it in a range of feelings. Their freshness and craft beside Gray's enduring and inspiring artistry was testament to Tapestry's Austin spirit even more than the numbers centered on the city's love of a good time or its connection to nature. What makes this company "Austintatious" is its devotion to art, to collaboration, to innovation, and those qualities are what make you want to, as Stevie Ray says of his love, "stick with her until the end of time." Tapestry is our pride and joy.


Austintatious (Too)

Rollins Theatre at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside
www.tapestry.org
Oct. 19

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Tapestry Dance Company
Tapestry Dance Company's <i>April Fools</i>
Tapestry Dance Company's April Fools
This remount of the tap troupe's valentine to vaudeville brought the old art form back with delights in abundance

Robert Faires, May 11, 2018

Tapestry Dance's <i>One Step at a Time</i>
Tapestry Dance’s One Step at a Time
The rhythm tap company's production offers not just wonderful dance but perhaps the most necessary commentary of this electoral season

Robert Faires, Nov. 4, 2016

More Arts Reviews
Heartland Theatre Collective's <i>The Vineyard</i>
Heartland Theatre Collective's The Vineyard
The reasons to see this staging of Nicole Oglesby's new drama are the thorny questions it leaves you to answer

Trey Gutierrez, Nov. 8, 2019

<i>The Survivors/Los Sobrevivientes</i> at Texas State University
The Survivors/Los Sobrevivientes at Texas State University
Katie Bender's drama takes us inside the Alamo for the rare treatment of that story as something intimate, with feeling more than action

Robert Faires, Nov. 8, 2019

More by Robert Faires
2019 B. Iden Payne Award Winners
2019 B. Iden Payne Award Winners
Five shows share top honors with four awards each

Nov. 6, 2019

TILT Performance Group's <i>Pandora: Life Outside the Box</i>
TILT Performance Group's Pandora: Life Outside the Box
This world premiere of Allen Robertson's musical releases kindness and joy into the world

Nov. 1, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Tapestry Dance Company, Acia Gray, Stevie Ray Vaughan

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle