JASON SAMUUELS SMITH
July 10, 2012
Tap dance comes in all sizes and sounds. Intent on making his own individual mark, the congenial Jason Samuels Smith took his place on the Joyce theater stage with his company and a live jazz combo.
Improvisation forms the heart of tap dance and in the first piece “Imagine” Smith shifts around light tap flurries swinging to Charlie Parker's "bebop" and Horace Silver's "lonely Woman." Credited as the pieces’ “improvographer” (instead of choreographer) he punctuates syncopated rhythms and underscores the melodic vitality.
Over the past couple of years, Samuels’ has expanded and deepened incorporating traditional tap steps and contemporary dance body positions.
In “Charlie's Angels” to the music of Charlie Parker (one can never get enough of a good thing) the ladies of tap step out: Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, and Dormeshia Sumbry - Edwards.
These women add an intricate netting of sounds that tickle the higher register, only to plunge into the basso, hard taps associated with men. Gone are the dainty tap twirls defining female tappers, instead these ladies prove the vigor and athleticism infiltrating all sexes and levels of performance.
The final entry “Chasing The Bird” suffers from audio imbalance between the jazz musicians, Baakari Wilder 's spoken text and tap soundtrack. Clearly, Smith loves jazz music and the bebop musicians who changed the sound of American music forever, but this piece needs some re-focusing.
Regardless, the dancers unfailingly ripped up articulated patterns while their bright personalities infused the theater with a strong promise of tap to come.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis