Home ArtsDance Review: Dormeshia Coasts on Her Tap Mastery in ‘Rhythm Is Life’

Review: Dormeshia Coasts on Her Tap Mastery in ‘Rhythm Is Life’

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It’s no wonder that the show “Rhythm is Life”, which Dormesia Tap Collective will perform at The Joyce Theater this week, is a classy event. Tap dancer Dormesia is the epitome of elegance and has been around since childhood. But she’s not just classy. She is classical. She is so familiar with tap traditions and techniques that she puts it all under her command and doesn’t have to worry.

“Rhythm is Life” is a classic tap concert. The Dormesia is attended by a jazz trio and three other Hoofers, alternating solos and group numbers. The group number switches between the Unison section and the serial spot for solo improvisation. Dormesia’s choreography is very similar to her improvisation. Perfectly measured, modulated, complex rather than messy, always clear, and without the buoyant rhythmic sensation called a swing.

Unlike her last show at Joyce in Dormesia, “And Still You Must Swing,” she was surrounded by fellow Derrick K. Grant and Jason Samuels Smith. “Rhythm is Life” is surrounded by disciples who represent the female tap generation. A dancer who grew up with her as a model. The costume designed by Dormesia incorporates her tasteful style as a company uniform. A powder blue pant suit with a white belt to match white shoes. “We are all equal,” the costume suggests, even though one dancer is original.

Dormesia is generous in sharing the stage with these young women, both by performing her difficult choreography as if they were in one voice, and by providing their own developing voice. Reward her trust. Amanda Castro is the most lively and theatrical. Even if you get absorbed and close your eyes, it seems to give the audience that joy. Christina Karminucci is the most serious and shatters her phrase in search of stronger strength. Melissa Almaguer, like many talented Tyro, can throw too much at once, but she has merchandise.

As you can imagine, Dormesia saves the penultimate slot for her solo and is a master class. Like her other mature artists, her most amazing element is not the fireworks (although she has a lot of them), but the abandoned wiggle decoration, the impression of perfect control. During the premiere on Tuesday, she wasn’t giving the solo a big finish, it was just a character when she left — an ambiguous gesture somewhere between arrogance and humility.

It was the “leave more wanted” moment of the “leave more wanted” show. The entire program started in less than an hour, and while such conciseness is certainly a virtue, the first production commissioned by Little Island feels too modest for the Queen.

Part of that impression comes from music composed and arranged by Dormesia and bassist Noah Galavedian. Often delicious, but of functional quality. It’s certainly made for tap dancing and changes effectively, but as the titles of songs such as “Music”, “Heartbeat”, and “Dance” admit, it’s common. Each song is not unique and memorable enough to become its own jazz standard, suggesting some jazz standards. Galavedian, pianist Chris McCarthy, and especially drummer Sirazette Tinnin, play with high skill and sensitivity, but with little risk.

Ultimately, the risk, or ambition, is what the show seems to lack. “Rhythm Is Life” tells us what Dormesia knows about taps and knows better than anyone else. But what does she not know? What has this great artist discovered yet? May her next show be a surprise.

Dormesiah Tap Collective
Until sunday Joyce Theater..

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