August 10, 2003 --
The Duke on 42nd Street, New York City
Everybody likes Mike. It’s not
hard to see why tap dancer Mike Minery has such a fan base in lively attendance
for his Tapaholics performance at the Duke on 42nd St. last Sunday afternoon.
This following consists mainly of young dancers – boys who want to be
like him and girls who regard him as a shuffling Justin Timberlake – but
he charms audience members of all sorts with his athletic dancing and
easy going manner. Minery’s background with the New Jersey Tap Ensemble
and Manhattan Tap, not to mention his work as a soloist, have earned him
this appreciation. Now he’s building on that with a company of his own,
a “complete addictive rhythmic experience.”
Minery’s talents as a director and choreographer, however, fall disappointingly
short of his skills as a performer and are further hindered by the significant
technical gap between him and the rest of his company. While lively and
committed to their performance, these twelve dancers simply cannot match
Minery’s expertise or experience. The production, a series of short pieces
resembling a dance competition line-up, could have been elevated by more
solos by Minery rather than other company members. His appearances without
the entire cast, a trading session with a percussionist and a song and
dance duet, only drew more attention to the differences in skill level.
Steps are like fashions to the Tapaholics. Apparently, flaps are so last-year
and silence completely worn out. Minery packs his pieces with toe stands,
flams on the outside of the foot, and those scuff-heel stand things he
likes to run together. Even solos choreographed by the performer sported
the latest trends in tap tricks, so much so that tap dance became a monochrome
backdrop for ideas communicated by the production’s supporting elements.
Accessorize your dance with polyester prints and Wild Cherry and you’ve
got six guys playing “old school.” Change it up with red shirts and clavé
sticks for a “Latin” groove.
The most interesting (and sometimes the only) rhythms to come across were
upper body movements. Whether organic manipulations of the torso to produce
a certain sound or choreographed arm gestures to create a specific picture,
these rhythms were often more complex and syncopated than the percussive
ones coming from below. The majority of sounds from the floor were boisterous
sixteenth notes, occasionally opened up by a rock-like break beat, more
often seized by turns or acrobatics. For the most part, it didn’t even
matter; the music dominated so heavily, 13 dancers in unison hardly stood
Nevertheless, they were 13 dancers – a rare sight in tap dance concerts,
which are rare sights in themselves. Minery is to be commended for forming
the group, generating so much energy amongst them, and cultivating an
audience for them. Let’s hope that these Tapaholics can develop more than
a three step program for the future.
Edited by Jeff
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