Can Michelle Dorrance, erstwhile tap megastar do everything else well too?
This summer on Facebook I saw Heather Watts’s posts on Dorrance at Damian Woetzel’s Vail Dance Festival. I had seen Dorrance last year at the Joyce and was suitably impressed but there was something else going on in Vail that was even more intriguing.
It turns out to be Dream within a Dream, a new ballet which just premiered at ABT. And yes, she has figured out how to transfer her tap to the ballet dancers. With a combination of canes, claps (or as we call them in flamenco, palmas) and the wooden toes of the ballet shoes, Dorrance has made the syncopation an integral part of this new piece.
The dancers are game! They have fun to the forties Duke Ellington medly. One, James Whiteside, can really tap and shows off all the lessons he must have once taken (or takes) and he’s really good. What the dancers get more than anything is the Dorrance shuffle, or crouch, or sidestep. They have picked up on her ability to perambulate like no other.
Calvin Royal had just danced Alexei Ratmansky’s Robbins-Russian inflected Songs of Bukovina with Christine Shevchenko which premiered last year at this time. Both did admirable double duty in the Dorrance.
A good time was had by all.
Photo Credits: Dream within a Dream, photographed by Marty Sohl