“Soul Walk: Jazz and Tap Dancing Perfection” Submitted By: Victoria Nauta
Take one part jazz music, mix it with tap dancing and gently stir with soulful tunes and you get a delightful blend called “Soul Walk”, a revue choreographed and directed by tap dancer Hillary-Marie in collaboration with bebop and scat singer Emily Braden and the Andrew Atkinson Trio.
Dancers and musicians graced the stage of the Westminster Arts Center in Bloomfield, NJ on Friday, August 14th, bringing to life the soulful debut album of Braden. Hillary-Marie was joined by soloists Gabe Winns, Corey Hutchins, Leonardo Sandoval, Tyler Knowlin and a seven-member ensemble. From the moment Hillary-Marie began the acapella piece “Grooves”, the audience knew they were in for a rare treat.
“Testify” showcased Braden’s incredible vocal chops while Hillary-Marie showed us the story through the rhythms of her feet. The night continued with “Is You Is”, a couple’s dance that made us all feel like falling in love again. The surprise hit of the evening, “Woodshed”, featured all the men battling it out with their feet. The intricate footwork, the variation from intense to soft; this piece left the audience wanting more.
The ensemble shined in the Latin-inspired “Hace Mucho” and continued the heat with “Evil Gal Blues”. Trading tap shoes for jazz shoes, we were treated to leaps and fouettes in a sexy number by the ladies in the ensemble. “Black Fire” and “Just Friends” pulled us into the minds of the dancers as they tangoed and portrayed a break up that left us on the verge of tears.
“Wallflowers Fantasy” was powerful and filled with intense emotion. Hutchins was strong and powerful but able to transition to subtle, clear rhythms. Winns danced with clarity and fire; truly an entertainer. Sandoval was captivating. The audience was mesmerized by the intensity with which he danced. Hillary-Marie rounded out the group of soloists with her hot-footed rhythms.
The show closed with “Soul Walk”, the title track from Braden’s album. For an hour, we traveled with the dancers on an unforgettable journey, leaving us wanting more. Not often do you find a show that engages the audience so completely. Hillary-Marie has done that with this performance.