When the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students filed into the Webb Center yesterday morning, most of them were not expecting much. Some of the students were not even sure what they were seeing at the theater on a Tuesday morning, only that it meant not attending class. Other students, merely aware it was “some sort of tap dancing show” had never heard of Dorrance Dance or their award-winning show, “SOUNDspace.”
As part of the Webb Center’s continued Mission to provide performing arts & educational experiences to our community, we invited middle school students from in and around Wickenburg to attend a free performance from New York City tap company, Dorrance Dance.
Founded by Michelle Dorrance over a decade ago to present Tap Dance in a new way and upend any trite reputation about the American artform, Dorrance Dance presented excerpts from their brilliant acoustic show, “SOUNDspace” in the morning for the students before performing it in its entirety for the Webb Center audience during an evening performance.
A member of the dance company took the stage ahead of the morning performance and offered students some history, backstory, and iconic names to look up later: John Bubbles, Jimmy Slyde, and Chuck Green. She asked the audience not only to watch the show, but also to listen. “Close your eyes once in a while,” she said. “Hear the music. Feel the music.”
Accompanied by a single stand-up bassist and set against a very clean and minimalistic stage, “SOUNDspace” surprised some students with its humor, detail, and cool laid-back style. Using different shoes, socks, and sometimes their own bodies, the dancers gave students a highly entertaining and fresh show, and a completely new way of thinking about Tap Dance than they’d had just 65 minutes before.
Some of the things we heard as they were leaving the theater:
“That was way cooler than I thought it was going to be.”
“I mean, it was actually good.”
“If I wanted, I could probably do that thing he was doing.” (Slaps chest and thighs while beatboxing and stomping on the ground.)
THANK YOU to the students for coming to the Webb Center.
THANK YOU to the teachers for bringing the students.
THANK YOU to the company for offering yourselves and your work to the students and the teachers.
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.
Webb Center Staff