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January 30, 1985 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-30

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The Michigan Daily Wednesday, January 30, 1985 Page 5

These tapdancers score with rapport

By Tracy Uselmann
O n Sunday afternoon, Maurice
Hines tapped his feet right into the
hands of his audience. His company
called Balletap U.S.A. was right behind
him. "I am like a child," he said, "Your
will see when I get out there. I love to
perform for people...If my dancers do
not perform for their audience, we may
as well go back to the studio."
There was no question that his
audience loved him. A jovial mood was
set about the Power Center. Any reac-
tion from the people was bound to
receive a glance or a smile from him in
their direction. Even though this
response from a professional dancer is
unusual, it's what the audience likes.
From soft shoe to some furious tap,
Maurice Hines stole the show. His style
of playing with his audience is seen in
the company as well. Even though his
dancers are so diverse, he knows what

he is looking for. He expects to see two
aspects in his dancers: the motivation
to dance for an audience, and the poten-
tial to learn his own style of tap.
He calls his style "close floor feet."
Unlike the toe tapping style, "close
floor feet" tapping is more versatile
and can work with many types of
music. Like the name says, the taps are
very close to the floor. It is incredible to
hear the rhythmic sounds rise from the
dancer's feet when their bodies remain
almost stationary.
The disadvantage to this style is that
"mistakes are very obvious," says
Hines. Of course Hines does not con-
sider this a problem. He doesn't allow
any mistakes.
The first number titled "Company
Warmup" expresses Hines' theory on
mistakes. Sixteen dancers tap in unison
to the music of their shoes. The music
becomes more intense and the rhythms
more complex until someone is bound
to make a mistake. Of course it is

always more practical to open a show
and dazzle your audience with perfec-
Hines, who just finished his lead role
in Broadway's Sophicated Ladies
and is the star of the recent film The
Cotton Club, also directs his company
with Mercedes Ellington, the Duke's
granddaughter. Despite the fact that
Mercedes is co-director she seems to
play in the shadow of Hines.
Hines and Ellington put their minds
together for two numbers on Sunday.
Both dances were very amusing but in
different ways. The first was a spoof on
MTV called "Michael! Michael!
Michael!" The dancing as well as the
effects were perfectly bizarre. Hines'
didn't know how people would react to
this dance "especially with the snob-
bery in the dance world," he said. But
the audience loved it, and so did he.
The second number titled "Pretty
and the Wolf" was choreographed to
music by Duke Ellington. With much

acting and dazzling footwork, they tap-
ped their way in and out of many tight
The guest artist, Carmen de
Lavallade, gave two elegant perfor-
mances showing inert feelings. The fir-
st titled "A Skirt for Lester" com-
municated happiness, and the second
titled "Sweet Bitter Love" com-
municated sorrow and pain. These ex-
pressions were seen not only in her
face, but through her body as well. Her
arms were especially graceful in the
second number giving the affect of the
dying swan in the ballet Swan Lake.
Whether the company succeeds or
not, Hines will keep it going with
his light, nonchalant but positive at-
titude. Hines and his brother are
currently the two best tap dancers
alive. Hines' goal in life is to pass his
talents on to his dancers. With the per-
formance the company gave on Sun-
day, it seems that he has already ac-
complished this.

'Broadway' stages 'biz' realities

Mercedes Ellington, coordinator of Balletap U.S.A., is shown here perfor-
ming in "Light Dancing." The Balletap performances were unusually well
conceived and warmly received. Ellington is the granddaughter of Duke
x " "
ilm captures dance:
Hisory uand more

By Kathleen Haviland
Glitter. Grandness. Glamour. These
"Three G's" are the qualities
which are usually attributed to a life in
show business, and understandably so,
as the side of show business that most of
us see is deliberately presented as such.
Unless one has been involved in a
behind-the-scenes aspect of the enter-
tainment industry, he or she is likely to
generalize based on this narrow
tailored view and decide that show biz
is an easy, continuously rewarding,
gratifying, and exciting life to live.
But such a generalization is a distor-
tion. Emily Frankel's Bdway Arts is a
peek through the keyhole into what life
in the biz is really like.
Bdway Arts is a set of three one-act
plays, each depicting the cycle of life in
show business-the rise and fall of am-
bition and dreams of "the three G's."
The first play, 29 More Shopping Days
till X-mas, is about a young actor on his
way up. The second, When Stabbed
Through the Heart, say 'Ouch', por-
trays a successful artist at a turning
point in her career. The third play, Man
in the Nut Moon, concerns a tap dan-
cer/chorus boy turned janitor.
Frankel is able to manifest on stage

this perspective of show business
because her background is show biz. In
addition to being a playwright, Frankel
is a choreographer, director, dancer,
and novelist. Her life seems to be
nothing short of an incredible adven-
ture. After leaving her home in an up-
per-middle class Chicago suburb at the
age of 12, she went to New York and
studied dance under George Ballanche.
She later enrolled as a nonmatriculated
student at both the University of
Chicago and Antioch College, then
finished high school in Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania, graduating as valedic-
torian of her class. Her plays have been
presented off-Broadway, a biography
has been published about her dancing
career, she is artistic director of Studio
17 in New York, a founder of the
American Dance Drama company, and
her first novel is due out in April.
Where does Frankel find the energy
and the discipline to function suc-
cessfully at such a wide range of tasks?
Probably because she is a risk taker.
She is a self-taught person-Frankel
brought herself up, and in the viciously
competitive world of New York show
business at that. It's evident from her
life story that she always has the guts
and the drive to set out and accomplish
whatever she sets her mind to.

Why does she spread her talents
over so many diverse areas? Why can't
she just enjoy the tremendous success
of her dancing career?
The woman in the braided pigtails
and velvet jogging suit has a metaphor:
"It's like juggling," Frankel says.
"The more balls I can get into the air,
the more fun for me."
After talking with this intriguing

woman, I think I'm going to check out
for myself what her idea of fun is. Bd-
way Arts is showing at the Trueblood
from January 28-February 3 with Mon-
day through Saturday performances at
8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
Single tickets are $3.00 and group rates
are available.
Will Bdway Arts le funny? Or will
it be disturbing? Come see for yourself.


By Emily Montgomery
o capture the essence of an ac-
tivity that has been going on
since the dawn of man, to pay tribute
to the artists who have made this ac-
tivity so special, that's an accom-
plishment. That's That's Dancing.
Produced by the man whose name
has grown synonymous with the
song and dance man image, Gene
Kelly, That's Dancing is a documen-
tary about dancing as an art aimed
at those who aren't familiar with it.
For those who are, it's two hours of
joyous celebration.
With clips that span time from
Thomas Jefferson's early handpain-
ted footage of a girl twirling around
in a circle, to Michael Jackson's
"Beat It" video, That's Dancing,
comprehensively covers the history
of dance. Stage and screen favorites,
Ray Bolger, Sammy Davis Jr.,
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Liza Minnelli
and, of course, Kelly himself,
narrate the clips, relating
background for each shot and the
featured dancers.
On an informational level That's
Dancing is enlightening. With such a
broad and encompassing subject, it
would be easy to neglect some event,
or someone of importance, but
That's Dancing misses nothing. Not
only are dancers, choreographers
and teachers showcased, but in-
novative directors, such as Busby
Berkeley, master of the overhead
shot, as well. It's a comprehensive
synopsis of the history of dance.
Everyone who made a substantial

contribution in the development of
dance in the cinematic sense is given
consideration. Not only are the two
major forms of tap and ballet
discussed, but they manage to sneak
in the more modern trends, such as
disco and even a little breakdancing.
From an entertainment stan-
dpoint, That's Dancing is lively,
energetic and captivating. The spon-
taneity of the opening shots draw in
the viewer immediately and once it
has caught one's attention it doesn't
let go until the final dance step is
The best thing about That's Dan-
cing is the timing of its release, since
part of the motivation behind it is to
give tribute to those involved, who
have for years enchanted and
delighted us with their extraor-
dinary talents-dancers such as Ray
Bolger, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley
Temple. And, of course, Gene Kelly
and Fred Astaire, sadly, won't be
with us forever. They deserve this
well conceived recognition of their
True, That's Dancing is a film
which can be enjoyed more by those
viewers who are already interested
in dance, but neither interest nor
knowledge, are necessarily
requirements. It's the nature of dan-
ce that one need not be an expert to
enjoy spectating. That's Dancing
takes the technical know how of
dance and presents it on a level
where everyone can appreciate it.
For some sequences, the best
descriptive word is simply: "Wow."

Mon. & Fri. Twilight .0
Ns*.*.U @ E*U @ EI" Shows $2.50 til 6 P.M. "
" With this entire ad $1.00 off adult Evening admission.
0 Coupon good for purchase of one or two tickets good all
OFF features thru 1 /31 /85 (EXCEPT TUESDAYS).
.u~iu"u"ui " " i E " u~u ueu*E* muemoEOUSESE@E@E-0"
:: THURS. 5:00, 7:10, 9:15 P.M.
WED. 8:30 p.m. s
U ,u ,,.,........,**
0 DA ILY 5:00, 7:30, 9:45 WED. 5:00, 6:50, 10:30 P.M. 0
Saturday, February 2, 1985

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See your Jostens representative.

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