Tap Dogs - History


The concept of the Tap Dogs was created by Australian dancer Dein Perry. As children, Perry and the other original cast members of Tap Dogs lived in the town of Newcastle near Sydney. Newcastle has a strong industrial heritage and steel is one of the towns major exports and this would become a major influence on the set designs for the show. From a young age, Perry and the other original cast members learnt tap dancing in the garage behind their dance teachers house. At first it did not appear that any of the Tap Dogs would follow a dance career, each of them finding careers in other industries.

After deciding to pursue a career in dance, Perry left Newcastle and found work as a chorus dancer in Sydney, including a contract in the professional Australian production of the musical 42nd Street. After 42nd Street closed in Sydney, Perry decided to create a contemporary show around the themes of his industrial experience with his former dance class colleagues from Newcastle and was awarded a Government grant to form the dance company which would later become Tap Dogs.

The show started with six men from a steel town north of Sydney, Australia. Olivier Award-winning choreographer Dein Perry headed the team with designer/director Nigel Triffitt, and composer Andrew Wilkie and created TAP DOGS; an 80 minute reinvention of tap for the New Millennium.

The original production of Tap Dogs premiered at the Sydney Theatre Festival in January 1995, and featured on-stage musicians Andrew Wilkie and David Anthony.

Tap Dogs went on to play to packed houses at Sadler's Wells in London; return tours of Australia; a West End engagement, for which Dein won a second consecutive Olivier Award in 1996 for his choreography; and an off-Broadway, New York season in 1997. So far the company has won 11 International Awards including a Pegasus Award at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and an Obie in New York.

The Australian dance sensation returned home in 2000 to take part in the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. 1000 Tap Dogs from companies around the world performed to an audience of 3.4 billion viewers as the event was televised across the world.

The Tap Dogs story has gone on to immortalised in the movie Bootmen, directed by Dein Perry and inspired by his Tap Dogs experiences. The stage show continues to wow audiences all over the world with 2002 seeing TAP DOGS perform in Venezuela and South Africa before returning to the UK for another regional tour.

Butch boys in Blundstone boots they might be, but the faded jeans, lumberjack shirts and baseball caps belie formidable talent and astounding poise. These nine Aussie men (and now, in this "rebooted" version, three Aussie women) whirl a delighted audience through 75 minutes of tap dances that are dazzling, inventive, witty and joyful. This is Dein Perry's self-styled "reinvention of tap" that won international acclaim and awards at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. The show does not pretend to be profound (in fact the casual clothes, informal humour and cutely amateurish style pretend the opposite) but is a literally breathtaking and relentlessly upbeat display of tap-dancing talent.

Tap Dogs begins with a combination of brilliance, humour and surprise that runs throughout. A series of feet sticking out below a metal wall appear and disappear with immaculate rhythm until you cannot tell whose are whose. The launch of women into the Tap Dogs world is signalled by a pair of kinky red stilettos, and the joshing schoolboy laughs begin when one pair of feet pisses on another. From then on each scene is a showcase for tap.

The driving force is rhythm, and these guys have got it. Only the dancers' arms and mouths are allowed to run individual riot while their feet are human drum kits (literally in one scene in which they tap on pressure pads each individually amplified to sound like a different drum) and even the bold lighting and set changes form part of the music. At times the tapping sounds like raindrops, like running horses, like a train, and the range of emotion is surprising - one scene has a teacher (Drew Kaluski, the best male tappist) teaching a student (both seated) through his feet. Another is a tense love scene with the brilliant Vanessa Schembri. A far cry from Fred and Ginger, but there are respectful nods to old-style tap as the dancers swing around metal poles in the rain. The dancers' enjoyment is palpable, and it would be hard not to come out of the exhausting whirl energised and satisfied

Tap Dogs are currently taking the world by storm with their unprecedented tap show. Known as 'the hottest show on legs' find out what all the fuss is about when the dancers come to the Hall for Cornwall for a week long stay in October.

The Tap Dogs cast came together in 1995, and have gone on to gain worldwide acclaim, including an Olivier Award. The show is still touring with visits in 2013 to South Africa and Australia; in 2012 to Australia, USA, Taiwan, Bahrain and Italy. 2011 tours included France and Australis; 2010 tours included London West End (UK) and a Canada & US Tour. Other countries over the years have included the Netherlands, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Greece, Spain, Korea, Germany, Monte Carlo and Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya & Osaka).

Read more about this topic:  Tap Dogs

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