CABOOM – new contemporary tap dance

 

Seven years after the “award-winning” production of THE GROOVE JOURNALS (minor awards, to be honest…) and following some exciting collaborations with film and theater, my next project takes me back to “pure” tap ensemble work. This gives me a chance to apply a newly discovered concept, which feels like the holy grail of choreography to me: an analytical, yet creative approach I call CABOOM and have already introduced at some workshops.

CABOOM

CABOOM was sparked by some very open movement research, in which fantastic dancer Janne Eraker and I tried to find fresh visual ideas for audible dance in the most general sense. Doing this, I realized with some surprise that we as tap dancers do not usually have a vocabulary for the physical “organisation” of our body in movement. Our terminology describes the foot percussion precisely. But if a shuffle-ball-change moves to the left or the right, crosses in the back or the front, turns or does whatever… is not usually conveyed in our vocabulary. In fact, many of us would rather sing a step to a colleague than describe the movement.

This is perfectly in tune with the jazz tradition, since the individual differences between the dancers keep the whole thing interesting and might be considered part of the personal style. When trying to develope a unique movement esthetics as an ensemble, however, tap frequently moves within narrow limits.

To expand the options here, CABOOM starts with an analysis of the inner “logic” of a choreographed sequence and identifies, which parameters are important to that sequence: weight change obviously, but also axial coordination, balance, momentum and centrifugal power… How do arms and legs relate to each other? Which body parts initiate a movement, which follow? Which potentials are unused and which individual variance exists?

The attention to these functional elements alone releases great potential: the dancers move more spaciously, more dynamically.

In a second step, CABOOM explores how the movement repertoire of tap can be altered or expanded. To this end, I work with a number of experts of contemporary dance, movement analysis and dance dramaturgy. Peer-learning, method transfer and trial & error are key strategies. Contemporary choreographers inspire new approaches to tap, add gestures, suggest a different concept of developing movement altogether, apply their take on body language to tap. What still feels like tap? What does not?

In return, contemporary dancers try to bring out the precise musicality of tap in their movement repertoire, try to use typical movement ideas of tap and to explore other means of developing a style of “audible dance”. Of all their approaches, what can be re-imported into tap?

WORKSHOPS

These are some of the technical aspects I explore more fully with my new CABOOM project in a series of interconnected workshops, residencies and ensemble choreography. Some of the workshops take place within the newly found CABOOM COMPANY, others are open to anybody.

Among the public workshops are two that offer a more in-depth opportunity to participate in the choreographic process: April 3rd thru 8th, there will be an advanced and an intermediate residency at Guillem Allonso’s Casa Luthier, an awe-inspiring hub for great tap dancing in Barcelona. While the intermediate workshop is mostly about introducing the principles of CABOOM by means of a short choreography, the advanced workshop will be more of a team effort to actually create original material. That material will later be developed for the stage and used in a short dance film. Details and registration information can be found on the workshop flyer.

Later in the summer, there will be an intensive workshops at Anina Krügers beautiful Blue Tap Studio in Berlin. Covering two weekends, we will first learn original choreography and then change and develope that material in collaboration with renowned contemporary dancer and choreographer Damian Gmür. This will be an opportunity to experience the research first hand an find out about personal limits and potential.

Then, there are some smaller workshops, in which I introduce the CABOOM approach. Next chance will be at the end of march in Heidelberg, soon after that there will be a more intensive four-day workshop at the tap dance days (formerly “tap ahead festival”) in Düsseldorf.

AUDITION for professional tap dancers

In the course of the year, I plan to produce three short films and a full-evening performance, which will be presented in Leipzig, Berlin, and Aschaffenburg. Professional tap dancers who are interested to participate are very much encouraged to check out the audition notice and send a brief application!