Tap dogs


"Tap Dogs" is a tap dance group, created by an Australian dancer and choreographer, Dein Perry. The original production of the show had its world premiere in January 1995 at the Sydney Festival in Australia, and was produced by the Sydney Theatre Company.

Due to the unique and original staging ideas featured in the show, the Tap Dogs are often recognised within the dance community, as having revolutionised the way tap dance is presented to a modern day audience and subsequently, different variations of the show are now performed in major cities around the world, with numerous dance companies attempting to emulate the tap style seen in the show.

Whilst the original stage show achieved international acclaim, the Tap Dogs are most famous for their performances at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

The show

The original production of "Tap Dogs" was 80 minutes long with no interval and featured six Australian men performing non-stop tap dance routines on a set that was designed to appear like a construction site. The staging of the show was intended to represent the steel making community in which the original dancers had grown up, whilst also appealing to the modern dance audience. It is recognised for its simple costuming of faded jeans, lumberjack shirts, vests and baseball caps, although the key feature and 'trademark' of the Tap Dogs, are the specially modified boots that the dancers wear. These are in fact 'Blundstone' boots, one of Australia's most iconic brands. The company is an official supporter of the show worldwide and provides boots with specially prepared soles, fitted with metal plates to the toe and heel areas, which are then 'beaten' on the ground to create the 'tap' sounds.

The primary theme of the show Alone, in groups and all together these nine fantastic dancers tap together, tap alone, tap fast, tap slow, tap in simple and complex rhythms, tap on water, tap with basketballs and iron rods, tap hanging upside down suspended from ropes, and, just when you are beginning to become numb to the skill, they tap on ladders while showering a solo tappist with sparks from angle grinders. They tap on the moving parts and chasms of Nigel Triffitt's industrial stage sets as new scenes are created around them, and tap into a frenzied climax as the set is gradually deconstructed, the steps grows more and more complicated, and everyone ends up covered in water (raincoats are provided for those in the first row).

History

The concept of the Tap Dogs was created by Australian dancer Dein Perry. As children, Perry and the other original cast members of Tap Dogs lived in the town of Newcastle near Sydney. Newcastle has a strong industrial heritage and steel is one of the towns major exports and this would become a major influence on the set designs for the show. From a young age, Perry and the other original cast members learnt tap dancing in the garage behind their dance teacher's house. At first it did not appear that any of the Tap Dogs would follow a dance career, each of them finding careers in other industries.

After deciding to pursue a career in dance, Perry left Newcastle and found work as a chorus dancer in Sydney, including a contract in the professional Australian production of the musical 42nd Street. After 42nd Street closed in Sydney, Perry decided to create a contemporary show around the themes of his industrial experience with his former dance class colleagues from Newcastle and was awarded a Government grant to form the dance company which would later become Tap Dogs.

The show started with six men from a steel town north of Sydney, Australia. Olivier Award-winning choreographer Dein Perry headed the team with designer/director Nigel Triffitt, and composer Andrew Wilkie and created TAP DOGS; an 80 minute reinvention of tap for the New Millennium.

The original production of Tap Dogs premiered at the Sydney Theatre Festival in January 1995, and featured on-stage musicians Andrew Wilkie and David Anthony.

Tap Dogs went on to play to packed houses at Sadler's Wells in London; return tours of Australia; a West End engagement, for which Dein won a second consecutive Olivier Award in 1996 for his choreography; and an off-Broadway, New York season in 1997. So far the company has won 11 International Awards including a Pegasus Award at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and an Obie in New York.

The Australian dance sensation returned home in 2000 to take part in the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. 1000 Tap Dogs from companies around the world performed to an audience of 3.4 billion viewers as the event was televised across the world.

The Tap Dogs story has gone on to immortalised in the movie Bootmen, directed by Dein Perry and inspired by his Tap Dogs experiences. The stage show continues to wow audiences all over the world with 2002 seeing TAP DOGS perform in Venezuela and South Africa before returning to the UK for another regional tour.

Butch boys in Blundstone boots they might be, but the faded jeans, lumberjack shirts and baseball caps belie formidable talent and astounding poise. These nine Aussie men (and now, in this "rebooted" version, three Aussie women) whirl a delighted audience through 75 minutes of tap dances that are dazzling, inventive, witty and joyful. This is Dein Perry's self-styled "reinvention of tap" that won international acclaim and awards at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. The show does not pretend to be profound (in fact the casual clothes, informal humour and cutely amateurish style pretend the opposite) but is a literally breathtaking and relentlessly upbeat display of tap-dancing talent.

Tap Dogs begins with a combination of brilliance, humour and surprise that runs throughout. A series of feet sticking out below a metal wall appear and disappear with immaculate rhythm until you cannot tell whose are whose. The launch of women into the Tap Dogs world is signalled by a pair of kinky red stilettos, and the joshing schoolboy laughs begin when one pair of feet pisses on another. From then on each scene is a showcase for tap.

The driving force is rhythm, and these guys have got it. Only the dancers' arms and mouths are allowed to run individual riot while their feet are human drum kits (literally in one scene in which they tap on pressure pads each individually amplified to sound like a different drum) and even the bold lighting and set changes form part of the music. At times the tapping sounds like raindrops, like running horses, like a train, and the range of emotion is surprising - one scene has a teacher (Drew Kaluski, the best male tappist) teaching a student (both seated) through his feet. Another is a tense love scene with the brilliant Vanessa Schembri. A far cry from Fred and Ginger, but there are respectful nods to old-style tap as the dancers swing around metal poles in the rain. The dancers' enjoyment is palpable, and it would be hard not to come out of the exhausting whirl energised and satisfied.

Tap Dogs are currently taking the world by storm with their unprecedented tap show. Known as 'the hottest show on legs' find out what all the fuss is about when the dancers come to the Hall for Cornwall for a week long stay in October.

The Tap Dogs cast came together in 1995, and have gone on to gain worldwide acclaim, including an Olivier Award. The show is still touring with visits in 2013 to South Africa and Australia; in 2012 to Australia, USA, Taiwan, Bahrain and Italy. 2011 tours included France and Australis; 2010 tours included London West End (UK) and a Canada & US Tour. Other countries over the years have included the Netherlands, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Spain, Korea, Germany, Monte Carlo and Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya & Osaka).

The lads from TAP DOGS

The show originally started with six men from Newcastle, New South Wales, a steel town north of Sydney, Australia. Olivier Award-winning choreographer Dein Perry headed the team with designer/director Nigel Triffitt, and composer Andrew Wilkie and created TAP DOGS.

The show is now a well known reinvention of tap for the New Millennium.

TAP DOGS was the instant hit of the Sydney Theatre Festival where it had its world premiere in January 1995 – it caused an equal sensation at the Edinburgh Festival later that year.

The dance spectacular went on to play to packed houses at Sadler's Wells in London; return tours of Australia; a West End engagement, for which Dein won a second consecutive Olivier Award in 1996 for his choreography; and an off Broadway, New York season in 1997. So far the company have won 11 International Awards including a Pegasus Award at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and an Obie in New York.

Some of the better known members of the cast include: Dein Perry, Sheldon Perry, Ben Read, Adam Garcia, Nathan Sheens, Ben Mayne, Drew Kaluski, Chris Horsey, Gil Stroming, Jeremy Fullam, [Anthony LoCascio,]Anthony's Blog Jeremy "the Rocket" Kiesman, Latty Cooper, Jason Kalish, Dean Margi, Nigel Long, Aaron Sweetman, Chris Ernest, Grant Turner, Pat Kaluski, Shane Preston, Matt Pappa, Tim Varney, Joshua Allen Cyr, James Doughtfire and Joll love.

External links

  • The website

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