Michelle Dorrance founded her eponymous New York City dance company in 2011 to immediate acclaim. Since then, the accolades have far from abated, with awards, rave reviews and sold-out shows catapulting Dorrance Dance to the forefront of the New York performance scene.
In 2015, Michelle Dorrance received the coveted and prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, colloquially known as the “Genius Grant.”
The New York Times hailed the company as “entirely glorious,” The Washington Post described them as “central to the human ex-perience,” and The New Yorker has celebrated the ensemble’s leader as “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today.”
Dorrance has indeed built her artistic citadel on the familiar and well-known foundation of tap dancing, but with each new piece elaborates upon the fundamentals of tap and innovatively presses artistic boundaries further.
This was perhaps most concisely put in the troupe’s formal Bessie Award citation—won for their inaugural performance—which lauded Dorrance for “blasting open our notions of tap.”
Although redefinition is the name of the game, Dorrance nonetheless commends those who came before her and influenced her work.
“I would argue that no dancers call upon specific individual influences… more directly and more often than tap dancers,” she said. “Their personalities and unique styles live deeply within most of us.”
That said, when the group comes to Sun Valley for two performances at the Argyros next week, the audience may be hard-pressed to discern the likes of Shirley Temple or Fred Astaire.
On Tuesday, April 9, and Wednesday, April 10, Dorrance Dance will present their acclaimed 75-minute tap routine “SOUNDspace.”
The choreography by Michelle Dorrance blends tap with other styles of dancing, exhibiting hints of ballet, jazz and even breakdancing. Each of the 10 participating dancers incorporates some of their own improvisation, as well. The result coolly vaults over artistic barriers to deliver a truly original experience.
Writing for The New York Times, Brian Seibert reviewed “SOUNDspace,” saying, “Ms. Dorrance makes full use of tone, timbre, volume, tempo and, of course, rhythm, constructing patterns that lock together thrillingly,” going on to describe Dorrance as “the most promising [choreographer] in tap right now.”
“Tap dance choreography is a form of composition,” Dorrance said. “We absolutely consider ourselves musicians. It’s just like playing an instrument. While we aim for synchronization in our movement, I like juxtaposing that precision with more unique individual interpretations in the upper body.”
“SOUNDspace” marks the final engagement of the Argyros’ successful inaugural “Arygros Presents…” season, which brought several musicians, dancers and other performers to the valley.
“SOUNDspace,” perhaps more than some of its predecessors, promises to make full use of the Argyros’ state-of-the-art Meyer Constellation audio system.
Tickets are available ranging in price from $30 to $125. Visit theargyros.org or call 208-726-7872 for more information.