‘Hooked on Tap’ lives up to expectations
The Hooked on Tap show marks a semester and a half’s worth of rehearsals, planning and effort. While most dance groups on campus hold their recitals sometime in April, Hooked on Tap is the exception. The nature of HOT’s mid-semester spring recital means that after Sunday’s hour-long show in the Shapiro Campus Center, Brandeis’ most avid tappers will put away their shoes for the year. Although some students will perform with HOT in the Adagio Dance Company’s April spring show, for many students, and seniors especially — who might not continue dancing after graduation — their dance season ended Sunday, Feb. 12 at 4 p.m.
The HOT recital showcased a wide array of tap styles, featuring classical jazz numbers, jump ropes and outside groups from Boston College, Harvard University and Boston University. The show helped demonstrate how varied and vibrant the world of tap can be — in other words, that tap can be as inventive as any other genre, despite the additional challenge of rhythmic, slippery tap shoes.
The show opened with a busy, energetic, almost-full-cast number in which everyone wore company clothing — red tank-tops with “Hooked on Tap” slogans written in yellow, plus last names for members of HOT’s executive board. The opener was a prime example of what can happen with a group of focused dancers and a long rehearsal period; the dancers were in sync, had clearly thought about their facial expressions and hit every tap beat in unison, as the microphoned stage dutifully picked up.
Julie Joseph ’18 and Sara Horn ’19 walked onstage with jump ropes around their necks to begin the show’s third number. As Shawn Mendes’ “Stitches” played, the pair took turns doing tap solos until they swung the ropes off of their shoulders and started dancing while skipping rope. The crowd cheered when the pair started skipping, and continued to cheer as the collective realization — that yes, Joseph and Horn would keep this up for the whole dance — fell over the Shapiro Campus Centre Theater. Jumping for three minutes, or dancing for three minutes, would be hard enough. That Joseph — who choreographed the dance — and Horn were able to pull off the gimmick for so long and to execute complicated tap steps seemingly without any extra difficulty on their part was impressive. To be fair, the duo took a break to pique (a one foot turn) in a circle while swinging the jump ropes in circles over their heads. But as most dancers can tell you, a break that involves turns is hardly a break at all.
Another standout was the HOT alumni dance to “Sorry” by Justin Bieber. Four alumni cleverly combined Parris Goebel’s original music video choreography with classic tap moves to create a kind of tap-hip hop hybrid. One moment, the four dancers were rhythmically shuffling to change spots. The next, they were swinging their arms up and down, hopping in place and imitating the music video’s choreography.
MCs Andrew Agress ’17 and Raphael Stigliano ’18 made their mark on the show, as well. The pair’s natural comedic timing, improv comedy backgrounds (both are involved in Boris’ Kitchen) and Brandeis-specific jokes made the show’s transitions fly by. To introduce a dance called “Hollaback Girl,” Stigliano asked Agress if he had taken Stigliano’s “Jewish bread,” leading into a pun about Stigliano wanting his “challah back.” To introduce a song called “Runaway Baby,” the pair joked about the backstory of a small baby that Agress and Stigliano claimed lives by itself within the theater.
The show’s closing number was just as energetic as its opening one. The full HOT cast formed a circle onstage, and members took turns showing off in the middle of the circle. Representing the underclassmen well, the freshman ran to centre stage to do the Macarena and dab, while the sophomores did the Charleston. Lori Shapiro ’17, Emily Cohen ’17 and Haley Director ’20 did the worm across the stage, and the dancers performed a short choreographed section and free-styled until the show came to a close.
Overall, the HOT show demonstrated the vibrancy and creativity that tap can possess. For a dance form that dates its popularity back to the 1920s, the HOT show felt fresh, modern and inventive.