Seeing, hearing, feeling this performance may be the only way to describe its magic. Our evening was full of surprises! And what surprises! Weâ€”and by that I do mean the entire audienceâ€”were captivated by what we saw and heard and feltâ€”the beat.
For openers, the elegant Vijay Tellis-Nayak Trio providing the musical context for the graceful tap dancing of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project's (CHRP) resident tap ensemble, BAM!
Add to that the interactive, constantly changing backdrop and all the elements merged to form one rhythmic impression. The sound of the taps, punctuate the smooth jazz.
The music provided the lilt, grace, lift and sway of the dance and the colorful light show signaled the mood of each piece. The dance was rhythmic, athletic, graceful and percussiveâ€”the way the dancers moved was punctuated the way they sounded. And their movement was just this side of ballet.
BAM! boasts one of the most diverse repertories of American tap dances in the world. Directed by Lane Alexander and Kristi Burris, we can look forward to new works by Spanish tap and sand dance master Guillem Alonso, Ted Levy and a collaborative work created by Barbatuquesâ€™ lead percussionist, Bruno Buarque in coming 20th anniversary concerts in 2010.
Next, we were astonished by the energy, agility and--yes! you guessed it!--rhythm of Jason Samuels Smith ( Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk). His feet, arms, legs just flyâ€”and all without musical accompaniment. He plays a drum solo without drums.
And then we were enthralled by the Chicago debut of the Brazilian â€śbody-bandâ€ť Barbatuques.
These 14 men and women defy boundaries by combining Afro-Brazilian chants, body drumming, stomping feet, chest slaps, mouth vacuums, vocal resonances, video montage and pulsating rhythms.
Amazingly, they create an unpredictable visual and auditory feast full of joyous mayhem and audience interaction.
We were so completely mesmerized, we clapped, shouted, hummed and gladly played along.
At one point, the Barbatuques ran into the audience. One even came and drummed on my knee! Who knew my knee had rhythm? Another surprise!
COMING THIS SUMMER
Chicago Human Rhythm Projectâ€™s 2009 season continues with the 19th Annual Rhythm World, the oldest and most comprehensive festival of American tap in the world, July 27â€“August 9 at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Fine Arts Building, Chicago Cultural Centerâ€™s Claudia Cassidy Theater, Roosevelt Universityâ€™s Ganz Hall, Loyola University and the MCA. The season concludes with Global Rhythms, contemporary percussive arts performances featuring the Chicago debut of Washington D.C.â€™s Step Afrika!, November 19, 20, 21 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park. For information, visit chicagotap.org and check the Chicago-Splash calendar so you wonâ€™t miss a beat!