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Mike Minery's TAPAHOLICS

by Jenai Cutcher

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 a chance.

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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