For those unfamiliar with the Yard’s stellar programming, the dance organization’s upcoming festival TapTheYard should prove the perfect introduction to what the Chilmark-based residency and performance campus does best — introduce Vineyard audiences to the hottest and freshest of what the global dance world has to offer.
“It’s been one of our most popular programs,” says Alison Manning, executive director and co-producer, who describes herself as a “born-and-bred tap dancer.” “It has attracted an audience that’s not always necessarily interested in dance, and has expanded people’s minds. We’re not just presenting tap. It’s actually the Vineyard Festival of Rhythm and Beats.
“That description is apt, as the three troupes featured this year all combine multiple dance disciplines. All are completely different,” says Manning. “I think it will be really interesting to come to all three shows.”
The festival kicks off with a performance at the Yard’s Nanon Theater by Caleb Teicher and Company. “He’s an incredible tap artist,” says Manning of Teicher. “He also plays with different forms of dance — some straight rhythm tap, swing, a couple of duets that are body rhythm. He’s rooted in some of the more classical American forms of dance — jazz, soft-shoe, Lindy hop, swing dancing.”
The company will present two pieces, one honoring the music of Ella Fitzgerald through jazz dance forms and the other dance, titled “Small and Tall,” will feature two female dancers who, according to the Yard website, “pair their unlikely measurements with incredible humor and heart, using a mashup of vernacular jazz, tap, modern, and lame acrobatics.”
The opening show will be followed by two performances at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center.
On Saturday, July 7, the famed Bang Group returns to the Island for the fourth time with a new piece called “A Mouthful of Shoes,” which premiered at St. Mark’s Dance Space in NYC before coming directly to the Vineyard. In reviewing the show, the New Yorker wrote, “Versatile dancers play a suite of thorny modernist scores with their feet and other body parts. It’s the choreographer David Parker’s latest venture in translating rhythms and dissonances into human behavior: tender emotions and low-comic shtick.”
The score will include a new composition written by the Vineyard’s Dean Rosenthal for the company’s women dancers. The Yard website describes the unique collaboration: “Originally scored for three oboes, this work will use dancers alone to embody and play this intricate and witty score.” According to Manning, “Mouthful of Shoes” is a very family-friendly show which features lots of comedic touches.
The festival will conclude on Saturday, July 14, with a new hip-hop based performance by Ephrat Asherie Dance.
Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie is a Bessie Award Winner and New York City–based bgirl, dancer, and choreographer. She and her brother, musical director Ehud Asherie, have collaborated on the current dance work titled “Odeon,” set to the music of Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth, known for mixing early 20th-century romantic music with samba and other popular Afro-Brazilian rhythms.
Manning says of Asherie, “Her work is a hybrid approach to movement including hip-hop, Brazilian, and club music. She’s using these vocabularies to create what she describes as a spatial space for all of these forms of dance that are usually separate from each other. She’s breaking down the boundaries to explore how they can all coexist. Her company is incredibly talented and beautiful. It will be one of our most exciting hip-hop events ever.”
Manning also promises a couple of treats for the PAC audience. “There are surprises in both Caleb’s and the Bang Group’s work that people will definitely want to see,” she says. “Specifically tap surprises. There are two solos that will knock the socks off of people. True tap lovers won’t want to miss any of these shows.”
The TapTheYard festival includes four public performances. Caleb Teicher and Company will present “Meet Ella” and “Small and Tall” on Thursday, July 5, and Friday, July 6, at the Yard Nanon Theater. On Saturday, July 7, the PAC will host the Bang Group’s work “A Mouthful of Shoes.” On Saturday, July 14, Ephrat Asherie Dance will perform at the PAC. All shows are at 7 pm. See the Yard website, dancetheyard.org, for details and to purchase tickets.