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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Choreography, student moves a hit in ‘Hot in Here’

Published: January 31, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

Brandeis’ club Hooked on Tap performed their well-attended, all-inclusive tap show, last Saturday.

“Hot in Here” drew a crowd with a line of students and parents waiting for entry, something unusual on a night that also boasted attractions like “Disney Rocky Horror” and the A-Track concert. By involving tap groups from Boston University and Brown, along with their own alumni, Hooked on Tap kept audiences engaged through multiple group performances and playacting.

“Hot in Here” was choreographed entirely by students, which is impressive given the abundance of difficult and complex tap moves. Student dancers were charismatic, smiling at the audience who would often cheer in between songs while dancers were onstage, and the music choice for this show was particularly well-thought-out. Including old favorites like “Hit Me Up” and “Space Jam,” the music was consistently uplifting and allowed a good rhythm for which to tap. The show also included songs such as “Don’t You Forget About Me,” a favorite song from the film “The Breakfast Club,” yet it was remixed impressively with a Coldplay song. Hooked on Tap’s performances also added to the music in a unique way as a sort of additional percussion.

Hooked on Tap’s main strength was entertaining via not only dancing, but also costume changes and attitudes. In their song “These Boots are Made for Walking,” choreographed by Heather Stoloff ’13, dancers dressed in country outfits such as plaid shirts and began the song by clustering together and pretending to drink together. This lent the song an authentic attitude, as though audiences were seeing the dance performed in context. Similarly, in what was by far the best dance performed by Brandeis, in “TE: Swing Set” dancers wore plaid checkered dresses. Choreographed by Anna “Falcon” Yankelev ’13, dancers tapped while incorporating some traditional swing moves.

In a standout performance by Chris Knight ’14, the dancer performed a solo improvisational tap dance. Knight held a certain charisma, for he looked completely at ease with the audience and tapped as though he was simply there to enjoy himself. Possessing a very good sense of rhythm, Knight would stop and start his dance unexpectedly. While occasionally Knight looked in danger of falling, his dance was surprising and renewing, and immensely enjoyable for the audience.

Unfortunately, Hooked on Tap struggled with formations. For many of the larger numbers (the show began and ended with the entire cast dancing) some dancers were blocked by those in front of them. In other dances, students seemed to accidentally move out of their formation and would look somewhat awkward tapping too far away from the other dancers. Hooked on Tap also was not entirely synchronized, many times some dancers would move before others and there would be excess tapping.

Visiting groups had fewer problems with synchronization. Brown University had an especially incredible performance to the song “Don’t Give a Fairy.” Dressed in fairy wings and carousing down the aisles, Brown performed extremely complex moves with both their feet and arms, moving together in almost perfect time. Boston University, with a less stellar performance than Brown, nevertheless was entertaining to watch as they performed a sticky-sweet, cheery tune.

Brandeis’ alumni group was also impressive, as it was revealed that they practice mainly via recorded video. Courtney Choate ’11, Stacey Frisch ’12, Samantha Lakin ’08 and Alyssa Mauriello ’12 “learned” the dance through video clips and then practiced together in the afternoon before the performance. Given this disadvantage, their performance was surprisingly entertaining, perhaps attesting to the fact that Hooked on Tap breeds good dancers.

Hooked on Tap’s true talent lay in the group’s inventiveness. In their dance performed to “Space Jam” choreographed by Taliah Ahdut ’14, students created a rhythm before the song began by slapping cups and clapping. The song also involved aesthetic dance moves on the floor. Hooked on Tap also consistently ended dances creatively, such as a basketball themed ending for “Space Jam” and the iconic fist pump during “The Breakfast Club” for the song “Don’t You Forget About Me.” By including other groups to bring variety, to costume switching and variations on tap performances, Hooked on Tap’s show was entertaining and deserved the large audience it garnered.