Tap-dancing feet contribute to the musical score as Dorrance Dance returns to the Bay Area with a work called ETM: Double Down. Associate Artistic Director Nicholas Van Young describes the set that includes ‘tap instruments’ for the dancers to trigger as they dance. It’s a co-production of San Francisco Performances and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
There’s more information about the performances at the San Francisco Performances website.
“We basically created a playable set for our dancers,” Van Young explains. “You can kind of think of it like a gigantic electronic drum set. We have about 40 some odd boards that are on the stage and on platforms, and at different stations… We’re creating the melodics, we’re creating the music as we dance.” He began working with the idea when he was developing a solo piece years ago. Michelle Dorrance was enthusiastic about creating larger works for the company, and that became first ETM: The Initial Approach. This piece expands on that. “ETM: Double Down, where we double down on choreographing and creating to this concept one more time, but also, literally kind of in boards, we like doubled the amount of boards we have on stage.” Van Young says it gives the dancers another means of artistic expression: “Just to be able to play melodies, and sort of figure out a way to express to an audience what is sometimes happening in tap-dancers’ minds… While we speak percussively, we also speak melodically. Sometimes it might be abstract, but a lot of tap dancers think about running arpeggios, or creating sustained notes, and the listener doesn’t always hear that… It’s just really fun, with so many bodies and so many dancers, and we figured out we have exactly 16 pairs of feet, and so we’re going to have 16 notes. And we took that idea to the composer we’re working with and said, ‘OK, you have 16 notes, now we want you to compose pieces that have this feel, and this sort of energy.'”