Muddy Must See: Tap Factory
Tap Factory are coming to the West Country as part of their UK tour. It’s their second since 2014 proving that, at a time when everything seems to be making a comeback – from tea dances to vintage clothes and swing classes to trapeze acts – tap is enjoying a much-deserved resurgence of its own.
Jo over at Muddy Norfolk saw Tap Factory when the boys were in Norwich last month – here’s what she thought of the show…
The thing with this particular type of dance is that – while being incredibly skilled – it can look effortless making it potentially less engaging to watch than ballet, acrobatics or opera. This is possibly why Choreographer and Artistic Director Vincent Pausanias decided to draw on a long career in the theatre and incorporate other elements into Tap Factory such as drum percussion, displays of acrobatic prowess and slap stick comedy.
The whole performance is stripped back, raw and intimate, with just one backdrop throughout and a tiny cast of eight performers – interestingly all men – who tap their hearts out on anything they can find, including chairs and ladders.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, they also perform somersaults at the drop of a hat and perfect death defying circus tricks. At one point, the shirts come off – yes ladies, off – revealing beautifully toned bodies. Now if that isn’t engaging… Interestingly, there is no band at all, just one drum kit and anything else they can make noise on – think big barrels, drinks cans and wooden steps.
The cast is an international ensemble of dance champions, from the beautifully named Jeremie Champagne (as surnames go, this has got to be my favourite), finalist of So you Think you Can Dance in France, to Congo-born Jorffy Mayomba who specialises in hip hop, acrobatics, salsa and African dance. While there isn’t really much of a plot – a group of factory workers dancing in blue overalls – there isn’t any speaking either, something you don’t instantly notice because you are so drawn to the performance.
This is where Director Pausanias has used his nouse – the absence of dialogue gives the performance instant global appeal without the need for translators or scrip re-writes (the tour started in France before travelling to Germany and the UK; it will finale in China in November). It’s funny too, think Charlie Chaplin meets the Dream Boys but in tap shoes. What’s not to like?
But just how good are the boys? “They’re phenomenal,” said a tap dance student in the audience, “Tap is incredibly difficult – a foot wrong is instantly audible, particularly when six dancers are tapping side-by-side and in perfect sync. The speed is super impressive too – it’s exhausting to tap that fast for a minute, let alone a whole show.”
So, Tap Factory is a high octane, highly talented, highly watchable show that comes highly recommended.