Dallas — Sunday (Jan. 18) included an equally full schedule of dancing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dallas native and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts alum CK Edwards challenged a packed adult class at 3 p.m., with a drastically different teaching style than Justin Lewis.
Donning silver and gold tap shoes, he started with a brief but very brisk brain teaser of a warm-up then moved straight into the first combo, set to Nikki Yanofsky’s rendition of “Sunny Side of the Street.” The crowded floor made it a little difficult to see his feet as he taught, so rather than throw everyone off with my off-rhythm version of his steps, I took a spectator role.
I’m glad I did. Lewis’ comments from Saturday about allowing more processing time for adults kept echoing through my head as I observed the rest of class, which included a second combination performed a cappella. Edwards breezed through the combinations, and if you blinked, you might have missed something. It definitely kept the participants on their toes, and his rapid-fire approach put this class into a more advanced category. He’s currently on tour with The Book of Mormon, and that Broadway charm permeated every move he made.
The last class of the day with Keith Terry proved to be a more intimate affair, with about half the participants of the previous class, but the smaller class allowed us to absorb more of the subtleties of Terry’s art of body music or body percussion.
He packed a wealth of information in the 75-minute class, but his smooth, approachable demeanor made it easy to quickly immerse oneself in the material. He started by introducing some traditional body music forms, such as the hambone (a slave dance of West African origins), the Gumboot dance of South Africa, katajjaq (Inuit throat singing), and various forms from Morocco and the islands of Indonesia. We experienced different rhythms and ways to hold the body and cup the hands in order to create the proper sounds and tones.
Terry’s “rhythm blocks” were the best takeaway from the session and is an exercise that has multiple uses beyond tapping and percussion. Utilizing claps, brushes, stomps, and slaps on various parts of the body, the exercise turns into a math lesson—literally. Terry, along with an elementary school teacher, morphed it into a math curriculum for grades 3-5. It’s a diverse tool that can be adapted to multiple dance forms and educational environments.
Monday’s classes added an international flair with folklórico, Irish step, and flamenco. Other issues such as the business of tap and Broadway received treatment as well. The weekend was an enormous success, and next year’s festival is likely to grow.
» Read about Saturday classes here.