Columbus’ only dance troupe dedicated solely to tap, Movement Afoot, will unveil its first evening-length performance, “Ph(r)ase 1,”on Friday and Saturday.
Audiences can watch tap dancing along with Appalachian clogging, contemporary and Kathak dance as well as live jazz and folk music by local artists.
“What sets tap apart from other forms of dance is the fact that we make sound with our feet as we’re dancing,” said Lauren Squires, director of Movement Afoot. “I think the relationship between the sounds you’re making in your feet and what the rest of your body is doing is one of the key differences between different styles of tap.”
Squires is also an assistant professor in Ohio State’s English department and adviser of campus tap club, Buckeyes on Tap. Of the two major types of tap, Broadway and rhythm tap, Squires said she prefers to focus on the latter. She said she is driven to find the tiniest ways to produce the biggest sounds, and her choreography explores sound and space in combination with improvisation, which is true to the history of the art form.
“[In] Broadway tap or show tap, there is a little more emphasis on the body … doing kicks, using the arms, sequin costumes,” Squires said. “There are other styles that I’m more interested in, specifically how you can make complicated, elegant rhythms that are really producing a form of music with your feet.”
Squires founded Movement Afoot in 2014 in order to present more tap dance within the Columbus community. With a goal to be established in the local dance world, Movement Afoot practiced for months for “Ph(r)ase 1.” While performing mainly at festivals was enjoyable, Squires said, each performer would often have to bring their own wooden board to tap on, limiting what the dance company could do choreographically.
This weekend, the ensemble will have a full stage.
“We wanted to have our own stage and be able to do numbers that really show all you can do with tap dancing as a group,” Squires said.
Rachel Cooke, a first-year graduate student in clinical mental health counseling and member of Movement Afoot, has been tap dancing since she was three years old. She grew up practicing all forms of dance but said she formed a special connection with tap.
“You get to make awesome, crazy rhythms with your feet and then feel those rhythms throughout your whole body,” Cooke said. “I totally lose myself in tap. Not very many things create that.”
The former vice president of Buckeyes on Tap looks forward to this weekend’s performances.
“We’ve all been working really hard toward this for so long; it’s exciting for it to finally be here,” Cooke said. “It’s kind of a big deal for us as a group.”
“Ph(r)ase 1” is set to be performed on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at The Van Fleet Theatre inside the Columbus Performing Arts Center at 549 Franklin Ave. Tickets are $15 with a student ID and $20 general admission.
Disclosure: Arts&Life Editor Hannah Herner is president of Buckeyes on Tap.