REVIEW: Dorrance Dance - ETM: Double Down

Posted on 13 July 2017

If I said ‘tap dance’, I bet you'd think of Fred Astaire or long lines of people tapping away on the spot. Well Dorrance Dance’s ETM: Double Down is here to completely shatter your perception of what tap dance is, isn't and importantly will show you what tap can be.

Currently on a short run at Sadler’s Wells until Saturday 15th July before moving on to Germany and Colorado, Michelle Dorrance and Nicholas Van Young’s production, ETM: Double Down is a must see.

It goes without saying that the standard of tap is outstanding. Michelle Dorrance’s reputation as an innovator is well deserved. Every movement is choreographed, not just the tap, so immediately the show has elements of contemporary dance. Michelle’s belief “that the music is not a by-product of the dance” and “that dancers are equally responsible for both” is evident in her work; 90% of the sound is created on stage by the dancers themselves.

Nicholas Van Young’s electronic trigger boards are as much a star of the show as any of the dancers; what they enable the dancers to create is a vast tapestry of sound. This tour de force of a performance is a perfect example of what happens when dance and technology come together successfully.

ETM: Double Down is in places very intimate with intricate solos and duets of just tap. In other places it fills the space with complex layers of sound and dance, which crescendo into a mosaic of sound, light and movement.

The inclusion of Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie (an award winning b-girl) is completely left field, but inspired! Dorrance tells me the roots of tap and hip hop dances run to the same place and far from left field this is an obvious collaboration. Either way it serves to further heighten the pageantry of the show. Dorrance speaks of her love of bringing different dances together, and she achieves this here effortlessly. She utilises her multi-talented performers as dancers, musicians and percussion instruments, giving us a glimpse of the possibilities of tap dance. The first act is breath taking, and I went into the interval wondering ‘where do they go from here?’ The response was an improvised, soaring and evocative vocal that added a whole new dimension.

ETM: Double Down was daring, bold, unexpected and fun.

The complexity of the choreography was elevated by the rich sound it created. The idea that dance and music come as a package runs through the heart of this and thus each element is augmented beyond its individual status. It was a pleasure to watch and massively entertaining. This work is a visual, aural and technological master class; a carnival of sound, light and movement which transcends all constituent elements to something more.

Dorrance Dance is setting the bar, everyone else, your move.

Dorrance Dance's ETM: Double Down is at the Sadler's Wells until Saturday 15th July so be sure to catch a performance whilst you still can.