The last time Rhythmic Souls performed at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, it was three tappers doing a delightful, easy-breezy show called Tap This! in 2011. Now, two of those dancers, co-founders Katelyn Harris and Keira Leverton, return for the sequel Tap That!
That is not too different from This, in that the tappers narrate in a conversational and sometimes breathless manner between doing the stuff we really came to see: fancy footwork.
This time, they've added in funny video segments about their journey to become an official non-profit organization (lots of paperwork, which no artist likes doing), and the narration isn't an explanation of the types of moves in tap (as in 2011), but rather of the history of the artform with tidbits about some of its greatest innovators, including Charles "Honey" Coles and Leon Collins.
They've also added a live musician, Ashely Boucher, who plays stand-up bass for one number ("Taking a Chance on Love," a great song from the musical Cabin in the Sky), acoustic guitar for covers of Men at Work's "Overkill" and the Beatles' "Blackbird," plus her own song, "Running." (The latter is just her performing, without the percussive help of the tappers.)
Harris and Leverton demonstrate how tap dancing works with a variety of music styles, from classical to hip-hop ("Boom! I Got Your Boyfriend"), and although they excel at techniques like scuffs and toe stands, they seem to enjoy the fast, percussive, volume-changing tap work that Savion Glover has made into a tap/improv art (theirs doesn't go on as long, thankfully).
It's fun to see a dance group devoting itself to this artform, which is more often seen as a component of musical theater or something done by young dancers. Both women have charisma to spare, and they're getting better at threading the dance throughout a narrative.
In the opening video segment about Rhythmic Souls, flashy pull quotes appear on the screen, from such notable news sources as The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and, most hilariously, The Dallas Times Herald, which has been gone for more than 20 years.
Here's one to add, from TheaterJones.com:
"We hope Rhythmic Souls never taps themselves out. They rock!"
◊ Tap That! is performed in WaterTower's Studio Theatre. To see remaining performance times, click on the calendar icon in the factbox above.
◊ The 7:30 p.m. slot on the final day of Out of the Loop, Sunday, March 17, is reserved for the "best of the fest" in each of the three venues (Main Stage, Studio Theatre and Stone Cottage). These will be voted on by festival goers.