Dein Perry originally formed a dance group called Tap Brothers with the aid of a grant from the Australian government. He then choreographed the West End musical Hot Shoe Shuffle, which led to his collaboration with director Nigel Triffitt, and the creation of the show Tap Dogs. Tap Dogs had its world premiere in January of 1995 at the Sydney Theatre Festival and has since become an international sensation. Though it may be compared to Stomp, there is much more focus on the feet of the dancers instead of assorted props. Perry and Triffitt have created a contemporary show with great energy and edge that provides a fresh look at tap dancing far from the smooth and polished style of the era of Fred Astaire.
The stage for this production is like a construction work site. Tap dancing on levels of differing heights changes to dancing up and down ladders and steep inclines. There is even dancing upside down harnessed to the underside of scaffolding. The sound of steel saws at work is used for a percussive counterpoint to the tapping. The only real dance props are basketballs. The men dancing in a couple of inches of water is a definite crowd pleaser, despite (or perhaps because of) getting the first few rows of the audience rather wet. Tap Dogs has enough moments of ensemble and solo dancing to provide variety, and enough comedic moments to break up the intensity of the dancing. Sheldon Perry is unquestionably the star of the show. His endless energy and lightning-fast feet are a force to be reckoned with. With numerous odd surfaces, changes of direction and complicated tap, it is hard to believe these six men remain so tireless and sure footed. There was but one slip (without a fall) on a wet surface on the night attended. Though Dominic Mortezadeh seems the newest and least aggressive on stage, all the men perform with great strength and commitment. This is a perhaps the first tap show truly for and about men.
An added feature in the Tap Dogs performances in Miami was a tap competition held at the Arsht for the chance for a dance crew to be named "Miami Tap Pups." A group of promising teenaged dancers called "Loose Screws" won the tap-off and the opportunity to dance a couple of numbers on stage with the cast of Tap Dogs at the close of the opening night performance. Their solid technique and complete confidence on stage was particularly impressive following the potentially intimidating performance of cast of Tap Dogs.
Tap Dogs will be appearing through July 10, 2010, in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. It also receives generous support from private and corporate contributions to the Performing Arts Center Foundation of Greater Miami through its Membership Program, the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, the Dade Community Foundation, The MAP-Fund, the Sate of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is located at 1300 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, and houses the 2,400 seat Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, as well as the 2,200 seat John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, and the 300 seat Carnival Studio Theater. For information, or to purchase tickets for the many diverse offering of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, you may contact them at 305-949-6722, or visit them online at www.arschtcenter.org.