Living in the Tap

The impact of a performance being live

By Nathan Durkin

Last week, I went to see Dorrance Dance, a tap dance troupe. I myself have very little experience with tap dance, so I was naturally curious about it. I watched a few videos about tap dance, one specifically about Dorrance Dance, but I don’t think any videos could have prepared me for what I saw on that stage that night.

I got to Krannart and was excited to see what tap dance would be like. Although I had seen videos of the troupe as background to their performance today, I already had a feeling that tap dance feels much different live than it does through video. I’ve been to live music performances before, for example, and I know fully well the difference when you’re there experiencing the music in person rather than listening to a recording. I got my ticket, and headed into the theater.

My ticket to Dorrance Dance’s performance
Taken 3/14/19 by Nathan Durkin

My seat was on the balcony, which gave me an excellent vantage point of everything that was going on. After a few moments, the lights dimmed, and the show began. The first piece was quite enjoyable, with jazzy music that complimented the tap dancing very well. The dancing was interesting to watch – artful, almost telling a story, or many stories perhaps. There were some moments when I wondered to myself how it was possible to move one’s feet so quickly. A few minutes after beginning, and the curtains fell, so that the dancers could prepare for their next dance.

A picture of my view of the stage.
Taken on 3/14/19 by Nathan Durkin

This second dance was also quite interesting – a very different feel to it. Using only three of the dancers, there was a much more clear story to it. As clear as these stories were, however, they feel almost impossible to explain. The stories told by tap dance really seem like they need to be experienced to be understood – I don’t feel like I know what words to use to describe them. Again, the curtains fell after a few minutes. There were only three dances scheduled – I was beginning to wonder if the dance would actually take up the entire hour it was supposed to run.

Then, the curtains rose again, for perhaps one of the most wonderfully strange performances I’ve ever seen. This dance lasted much more than a few minutes – most of the hour was spent on this dance, and there was a lot going on throughout. A live band, flashing lights, costumes, dancers flying in and out of the stage, playing different characters, telling different stories, and all the while making music with their shoes connecting to the floor. I felt stunned and in awe at the entire thing – again, it is really indescribable outside of the emotions I felt. Eventually, the curtains fell once more, and the show was over.

Dorrance Dance not only introduced me to tap dance, they showed me what a live performance can really do for a show. I felt as though I was living in the performance, this indescribable wonder that could only be explained through experience, and one I had never experienced before. It really goes to show what impact being present at a performance can do for a show. There are tons of flashy and strange things recorded these days, but none of them inspire the same sense of wonder that live performance does. There’s something about the physical act of being in the performance that does so much more for it than any recording could ever do.

The inside cover of my pamphlet for the performance.
Taken on 3/14/19 by Nathan Durkin

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