A Cadence for the Calm
by Whitney Weinstein
Every Sunday during Fringe at Sound Space Performing Arts, Take It Away Dance joins with their house band, The Jazz Tap Quintet, for an afternoon of live-streamed tap and music. On this particular day at A Month of Sundays, David Underwood joined the cast with vocals.
The quintet opened the show, and it didn’t take long to see their liveliness. They shared their own dance: heads bobbed and torsos swayed to the music inside them, which manifested in a soulful sound that made my own body start to jam.
The show description grieves that “quarantine can feel longer than a month of Sundays.” This Sunday had me feeling timeless. I temporarily forgot about the nation’s tragedies and escaped to a place without time and space. As the music lingered, I patted a finger, and my ability to relax grew bigger and bigger. The smoothness of the music encountered a change in tempo when the staccato noises of the tap dancers began.
I sensed hesitation from some of the performers, either unsure of the routine or holding back in improvisational moments. The space was small, and their dancing seemed to reflect their awareness of that. I craved an explosion of sound. The music, in its laid-back nature, overpowered the movers, and the monotony of the movement, at times, was uncomfortable to watch.
It is apparent that these tappers are highly skilled with a solid understanding of and appreciation for the dance form, yet their technique and enthusiasm didn’t often translate far beyond their feet. However, there were enthralling moments of energized synchrony, instances of intensity and power radiating beyond the dancers’ bodies, every atom buzzing with rhythm.
As the hour continued, the pace picked up. The beats layered, becoming more intricate. The dancers’ personalities occasionally gleamed through the choreography, and through their masks, making their complex thumps and strikes more impressive.
This 6-year-old company prides itself on its inclusion of American history through its modern take on tap dance and jazz music. A Month of Sundays did not declare a strong political statement or overemphasize the importance of a major historical event. There were no fancy costumes, no elaborate scenery. Instead, they graciously offered an opportunity to indulge in a concert of quality jazz on a casual Sunday. It was a welcome break and fresh breath from the toxicity that surrounds us.
A Month of Sundays, Take It Away Dance, 2020 Fringe Festival, Sept. 13, 20, 27, Oct. 4.
By Whitney Weinstein
September 28, 2020