Though there will be construction sets on the Eisenhower Auditorium stage Thursday night, no building will be going on. A group of construction workers will be making a lot of noise — not with drills and saws, but with tap shoes.
A performance of the acclaimed dance-theatre production “Tap Dogs” will visit the stage for the first time in 11 years at 7:30 tonight.
“Tap Dogs” debuted in Australia in 1995 and has since toured all over the world. The tap dancing extravaganza features a group of male dancers dressed as construction workers who will do more construction with the taps on their feet, using the steel beams and construction sets as props to dance on.
The performance is set to rock and roll music and the dancers will be using the surface available in “every conceivable way,” including flips and jumps, John Mark Rafacz , Center for the Performing Arts editorial manager, said.
He said for many, hearing the word “tap dance” causes people to think of a sophisticated affair with the audience in tuxedos and dresses set to watch a Broadway-style performance. However, he said this is not the case.
“It’s very fast-paced,” he said. “It’s not traditional Broadway style music, it’s more hard driving rock music.”
Rafacz said the performance is very “in your face” and high energy. He added that the dance theatre performance is very athletic and has an unexpected charm. He said because of that, it is very accessible for those who aren’t too experienced with this type of performance.
Lauren Kolarik is excited that there is a tap performance coming to Penn State’s campus because there aren’t many opportunities to see a tap show too often.
Kolarik (senior-accounting) is president of Penn State’ tap dancing company Tapestry , which she has been involved with since her freshman year, and said she and a few others from the company will be attending the show.
“Obviously with tap dancing, I think it’s one of the under-appreciated dance forms,” she said. “Just that there’s a whole show related to tap is exciting.”
She said part of the appeal of a tap show is the many dance moves performers can do with the just the taps on their shoes. She said has seen videos of Tap Dog’s performances online and is looking forward to the choreography that will be present in the show.
“I’m always excited to see different choreography with tap dancing because you really can do so much with it. You can incorporate other dance styles,” she said.
Kolarik said one of the special elements of tap dancing is the ability to make rhythms with “just your feet and four taps.” She said a tap performance can incorporate music but it could also be a cappella with just the rhythms created by the taps.
“I think it’s one of the more unique dance styles,” she said. “Not only can you incorporate your movements but you can also make sounds and compliment that with the music you’re dancing to.”
Rafacz said this performance in particular is one he has noticed has a disproportionately female audience.
Center for the Performing Arts Marketing and Communications Director Laura Sullivan said the performance is a good way to have a “girls night out.”
Sullivan has seen the show three times, including a performance in New York, and said she has made the performance a night out every time, saying the men in the show are not bad to look at, though “it’s not ‘Magic Mike.’”
She said the dancers take risks in their dancing through the props they dance on, which is something she thinks students will be surprised by. She thinks people will be pleasantly surprised by the performance, which she called “tap dancing on steroids,” adding it is not a show that would be considered typical.
“It’s like a rock concert but it’s all tap,” she said. “But it’s not your traditional tap, it’s modern today tap.”
She said the performance will not be something people have the opportunity to see every day, given that the combination of tap dancing and “very masculine men in construction gear” is unusual.
“The performance is fun and exciting, so I just think it’s a very lighthearted, good time. It’s something to take your mind off anything else,” she said.