Dorrance Dance: Tap dancing reborn

Dorrance Dance, an Electronic Tap Music specializing tap group from New York, performed at Jorgensen on Wednesday.(Natalija Marosz/The Daily Campus)

Dorrance Dance, an Electronic Tap Music specializing tap group from New York, performed at Jorgensen on Wednesday.(Natalija Marosz/The Daily Campus)

Dorrance Dance, a tap group from New York, performed at the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts Wednesday.  The group specializes in ETM, Electronic Tap Music, which takes inspiration from EDM. They describe their work as a “high-energy fusion of street, club and experimental dance that transforms the entire stage into a musical instrument.”

The group was created in 2011 by Michelle Dorrance and Nicholas Young. The company started as a solo project by Young, who designed a type of tap board that plays a note when it is stepped on. Dorrance was intrigued by this and asked to expand it into a larger project which later became Dorrance Dance. Collaboration, Dorrance explained, is the key to creative thinking.

Their new show, “ETM: Double Down,” is an impressive combination of music and dance. Thirty-five of the unique tap boards were placed on stage, each corresponding to a different note. The dancers incorporated these into their choreography, making music with the boards and their shoes. This, combined with their choreography and occasional singing, made the show a remarkable display of talent.

Dorrance Dance brought life back to tap dance and targeted it towards a younger generation, mixing it with upbeat music and bass lines that the audience could feel in their chests. The show was captivating and its two acts left the audience constantly clapping and cheering on the dancers.

“The show breathed new life into the tap dancing traditions of American dance using its updated style and technological achievements to achieve an incredibly entertaining performance,” first-semester history major Evan Burns said.

The second act of the show introduced a live singer who surprised the audience by improvising an entire song on stage. His astounding voice, mixed with the show’s expertly programmed mood lighting, left the crowd in a stunned silence.

In a question and answer session after the show, Michelle Dorrance opened up about the creative process that went into designing the show. The majority of the music in the show was made up of original compositions, which, due to the nature of the tap boards, could only include 16 notes.

“A limitation is a great source for innovation,” Dorrance said. “You have to continue to innovate and move forward and make something unique that is true to yourself.”

The show was well-received by its audience, which appeared captivated by the originality of the show.

“Dorrance Dance was a revolutionary way to see tap dance,” first-semester journalism and communication double major Calista Giroux said. “The musical talents of the tap dancers was astounding.”

Another student, first-semester physiology and neurobiology major Alexa Maddalena, felt similarly.

“The show was a work of art. The way the dancers were able to move their bodies was truly unique. You could really tell they love what they do,” Maddalena said.

Dorrance Dance performed an impeccable show, leaving the audience with an entirely new way to look at tap dance.


Courtney Gavitt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at courtney.gavitt@uconn.edu.