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AUDIENCE REVIEW: The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble
The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble
The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble last month was a spectacular sight, and all the footage attests to the versatility of tap dance. It can be found on The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble Instagram feed. It was all made possible through the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. Artistic director, Pamela Hetherington teaches at her studio, The Sound Space Performance Dance Studio at 25th and Girard. The raking light shining through the juliet balcony is divine.
On opening night, “Tyner and Timmons” highlights a song by Fred Spielman and Kermit Goell adapted to spoken word, it was really a canto sung by Bethlehem Roberson. This duet would have woken anybody up, or just when you thought you knew what you were getting into, there was this feeling of nostalgia. Whether it was the words, the tap shoes, or the Jazz music, Phila Jazz Tap Ensemble made sure to send you elsewhere.
Tap dance is an aural-visual-physical experience, and it is something we can all learn from. The style is telling a story through a sense of physical movement on top of musical numbers. It was called, “Tyner and Timmons” for the interesting path which these jazz musician’s legacies portray for us now. “How Did We Get Here” and, “What Did You Hear” talk about following our path, having chance encounters, and wondering if anyone is listening. This all happened very quickly, and the three performers, Roberson, Hetherington, and Rosie Marinelli would make anyone fall to the floor with their improvisational art form.
"Passion Dance" by Marinelli was a kind of wonderful, an interplay between the musicians and dancer. How to describe it: The music pushed the tapper from start to finish, reaching for emphasis, and it filled the space. There!
And into the next piece, “Song For My Teachers” the three tappers weaved in and out of one another. Each with their own style, and Hetherington’s choreography placed elements of everybody as a factor. While phrasing a journey that would inspire us, and to imagine the connections we make on our own path.
The-Tyner-Timmons-Haberstraw connection tells us how things are passed down from generations ago. To keep that tradition alive, and find our individual learning style by means of visually, aurally, verbally, physically or logically attributing experiences with our past, present, and future selves. In the final part of Tyner and Timmons, to be specific, “Where Have I Danced With You Before?” the verbal learning style flowed with Roberson’s vocussion, a rhythm created from the entire body, and Hetherington’s dazzling jigging entertained all the style in the tap world.
Toward the end of the night, “Blue Rondo ALT”, Marinelli and Hetherington circled, almost running into each other, and arriving at a synchronization with Bethlehem. Later that night, we learned that Bethlehem has only been professionally tapping for less than a year. And Marinelli the youngest of the three, but with the most spirals and gestures, comes with no surprise how special T &T explored the artistic career, the journey, and the beginnings to something much larger- JAZZ.