Juba! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance Review- Co.Mitt and Stone Soup Rhythms at the Dance Center, Columbia College

Dani Borak, center, and Stone Soup Rhythms at the 29th Rhythm World; Dance Center of Columbia College, Chicago, July 25, 2019; photo by J. Alice Jackson
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Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) is in the midst of presenting its 29th Rhythm World, Chicago’s annual performance/educational festival dedicated to American tap dance. The dance concerts display three generations of tap masters performing improvisational, traditional, classical and post-modern works.

From July 22 – 28, 2019, Rhythm World’s programs, featuring Chicago’s finest tap dancers and companies joined by national and international masters- the oldest, largest and most comprehensive presentation of American tap in the world- will collectively feature more than 225 hours of educational programs led by 24 expert educators and put on 6 unique concerts starring over 150 virtuoso performing artists. In total, this will have been an unprecedented exposition of American tap dance.

Rhythm World takes place in multiple venues in Chicago’s South Loop including the CHRP’s shared dance space/incubator, the American Rhythm Center; the historic Jazz Showcase; Navy Pier’s Polk Bros Performance Lawns Lake Stage and the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. Six completely distinct performances present the most eclectic collection of tap dances in the history of the art form.

Michelle Mays of Co.MMit dancing “Michelle May’s Essentials”

Directed by CHRP Founder and Director, Lane Alexander and CHRP Artist in Residence Dani Borak, this much-anticipated summer festival showcases world-renowned performers, choreographers and teachers who have led and transformed the field of American tap for half a century. Rhythm World’s education programs, attracting hundreds of students from around the globe, include scores of courses, master classes, workshops, the 19th Annual Youth Tap Ensemble Conference, a comprehensive Teacher Certification program, a KIDS Tap program, and the Tap Scholar program.

On Thursday, July 25, the second night of JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance rocked the Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, featuring performances by Jason Janas’ Co.MMIT and CHRP’s resident ensemble Stone Soup Rhythms led by Swiss born tap artist Dani Borak.

Jason Janas founded Co.MMIT, a professional LA area based tap dance company intended to create, motivate, and inspire through tap dance. Co.MMIT performed Essentials; of which Janas has said; “The show is about rhythm and energy and the power of rhythm to heal. We find our expression through music and in this show we are expressing three things through the art of tap dance: Patience, Understanding and Peace. Tap dance is the vehicle to express hope.”

The dance featured Janas and his 5 colleagues initially wearing black-hooded capes, later discarded, revealing black jeans and tees. Each dancer had on a different colored set of block-heeled tap shoes. Beginning as acolytes grouped around a table holding a crystal ball inspired, dome shaped percussive gong- to which they returned- they danced together and in solo exhibitions to eerie incantatory chiming music. The performances were highly individualistic, impressive, seductive. They were also ultra-hip; high-fiving, finger snapping, VERY justifiably self assured.  Janus himself is a master of strong, floor slapping controlled physical dynamism.

Co.MMit at Rhythm World, Chicago

Program Credits for Co.MMit’s performance:

 – Intro / Cleansing

– Everything Old is New Again

– Ryan Vettel’s Essentials

– Heals
– Michelle May’s Essentials

– Meditation
– Shawn Kurilko’s Essentials

– The Closing

Artistic Director: Jason Janas
Original music composed by Jason Janas
Costume design: Bianca Janas
Choreography: Jason Janas
Dancers: Jason Janas, Shawn Kurilko, Michelle May, Jeffrey Dawson, Ryan Vettel, Savanah Dynkowski

Jason Janas and Co.MMit in “Essentials”

Stone Soup Rhythms is a collective of emerging and established multi-form artists. The name refers to a European fable in which a wayfaring stranger leads a community to create a feast by enticing each member to make a unique contribution.  Their performance was a compilation of all the works that Dani Borak has set and created during his three-year CHRP residency.  Borak, a world-renowned international tap and multi-genre performer, choreographer and teacher, is passionate about experimenting and collaborating with a broad spectrum of performing and visual artists, creating a blended vocabulary of percussive dance expression.

Borak and his colleagues put on a truly remarkable series of energetic, joyous, vigorous and virtuosic segments to intriguing jazz/rock-infused sounds. These were all group expressions punctuated by opportunities for solo performances.

The final portion of Stone Soup’s segment featured Borak’s critically acclaimed work: Alien/Rytme/Fusion. In this way, CHRP was able to provide a panoramic vista of Borak’s choreographic history on stage.

This last melded dance has justly been described as “a truly innovative fusion of tap and modern dance… and a literally tapped-out mood of urban anxiety, expressed in virtuoso tap dance rhythms”. It was a conceptual work infused by/suggestive of Robo-tap, Moonwalk-tap; Strut-tap; Ballet-tap, Street cred-tap! Beautiful, energy charged and explosive, it brought down the house.

Stone Soup Rhythms performing at Columbia College’s Dance Center, Chicago

Program Credits for Stone Soup Rhythm’sperformance:

 – When I Look In Your Eyes; Music: Outkast; Dancers: Full Cast, Matt Pospeshil (soloist)

– PJ & Rooster;Music: Outkast; Dancers: Full Cast and special guest Aleksandr Ostanin (soloist)

Don’t;Music: Ed Sheeran; Dancers: Jessica Tenbusch (soloist), KJ Sheldon, Tristan Bruns, Time Brickey, Matt Pospeshil, Daniel Borak, and special guest Donnetta Jackson (soloist)

Funknroll; Music: Prince; Dancers: Full Cast, Davon Suttles (soloist)

Sound & Color; Music: Alabama Shakes; Dancers: KJ Sheldon (soloist), Megan Davis, Tristan Bruns, Time Brickey, Davon Suttles, Matt Pospeshil, Daniel Borak

Paradise Circus; Music: Massive Attack; Dancers: Jessica Tenbusch and Daniel Borak

Fragile;Music: Tech N9ne ft. Kendrick Lamar, !MAYDAY! & Kendall Morgan; Dancers: Jessica Tenbusch, KJ Sheldon, Megan Davis, Tristan Bruns, Time Brickey, Matt Pospeshil, Daniel Borak, and special guests Donnetta Jackson and Star Dixon (soloist)

Movement 11; Music: Bugge Wesseltoft, Henrik Schwarz, and Dan Berglund; Dancers: Jessica Tenbusch, KJ Sheldon, Megan Davis, Daniel Borak

Escualo;Music: A. Piazzolla and Cinzia Merlin Dancers: Daniel Borak

Unsquare Dance; Music: Dave Brubeck and The Dave Brubeck Quartet; Dancers: KJ Sheldon, Megan Davis, Tristan Bruns, Time Brickey (soloist), Davon Suttles, Matt Pospeshil, Daniel Borak

Yoyk;Music: Bugge Wessletoft; Dancers: Full Cast, Megan Davis and Tristan Bruns (soloists)

Alien; Music Modul 18 by Nik Barscht; Dancers: Full Cast

Rytme; Music: Bugge Wesseltoft; Dancers: Full Cast

Fusion; Music: Take a Quick Break by Bugge Wesseltoft, Henrik Schwarz, and Dan Berglund Dancers: Full Cast, with special guest Samuel Crouch

Choreography: Dani Borak
Costumes: Daniel Borak & Cast
Dancers: Jessica Tenbusch, KJ Sheldon, Megan Davis, Tristan Bruns, Time Brickey, Davon Suttles, Matt Pospeshil, Daniel Borak

Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Dani Borak leads Stone Soup Rhythms at Rhythm World 29


 – Friday, July 26, 7:30pm, Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago

The third night of JUBA! at the Dance Center of Columbia College features two long-form works by M.A.D.D. Rhythmsand artist in residence, Dani Borak’s 9-Point-Inc..

– Saturday, July 27, 7:30pm, Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago

To register for remaining classes or to purchase tickets to performances, visit: www.chicagotap.org or call 312-542-2477

All photos by J. Alice Jackson



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