Tap dance and hip hop converge in Rhythm and Runners, a high energy, well-danced show created by choreographers Phillip Haddad and Michelle Slater. It is a collection of hard-hitting numbers danced by a ten strong cast who ably take on the characteristics of each style. Some routines stick more closely to a particular style while others truly mix it up. Most are large ensembles with solo moments and a real sense of camaraderie and love of dance permeates through the show.
Tap dancers use more than just their feet - they roll to the ground, use their whole bodies fluidly and execute unison sequences that mix up jazz and contemporary styling. They even succeed in capturing the essence of the hip hop, although their groove is different to the more laid back hip hoppers. The hip hoppers are equally adroit, shifting between hip hop styles and incorporating complex rhythms into their athletic displays. Haddad is a strong presence, but the younger cast members equally hold their own and demonstrate their unique dance personalities.
It all comes together in a call and response “showdown” where the two groups duke it out with mini-sequences of body percussion, foot stomping and acrobatics, suggesting the potential for overlap between the two styles.
This is an early stage of a larger concept. With further development and more investment in production values, Rhythms and Runners has all the ingredients for a fantastic, widely-appealing show, especially if it retains its commitment to strong dance technique. There are not that many full-length, large-scale live tap or hip hop productions made in Australia. With the success of television dance shows, the prevalence of hip hop culture in general, and even the proven popularity of productions like Tap Dogs, there is no doubt that audiences exist for such offerings. Rhythm and Runners could easily feel that niche.
Rhythm and Runners
Venue: St Martins Youth Arts Centre | 44 St Martins Lane, South Yarra
Dates: 24 – 27 Sept
Time: 7.30pm (60min)
Tickets: Full Price: $21.00, Concession: $18.00