Magazine article The Spectator

Sensational Hoofing

Magazine article The Spectator

Sensational Hoofing

Article excerpt

Dance

Sensational hoofing

Tap Dogs Rebooted

Sadler's Wells Theatre

If the four weeks of Kirov Ballet left you longing desperately for something different, worry not. Remedy is at hand at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, where the Tap Dogs are back. The moment six pairs of Blundstone-boots-clad feet appear beneath a half-raised curtain to engage in all sorts of antics, including some funnily ambiguous water squirting, you realise ballet's fairyland is miles away. What you are in for, instead, is a rollercoaster of energetic, sweat-and-sex, hyped-up dance action. The pun-title of the performance, Tap Dogs Rebooted, leaves no doubts about its content. Some of Tap Dogs' familiar and favourite numbers are reproposed amid new ones, in a dazzling crescendo of bravura and spectacle.

But the 'rebooting' process has also affected the company's structure, for this time the sexy guys who have so successfully removed the top hats and tails from tap dancing are joined by equally energetic and equally searing hot girls. The novelty works marvellously well, but only until viewers are confronted with an all too predictable 'boy-tries-to-get-girl' number. It matters little whether the boy manages to get any of the girls (he doesn't, by the way). The deja-vu number diminishes greatly the significance of a feminine presence within the company, turning the ladies into characters that do not belong in any way to the well-affirmed, rock-house-techno-garage - or whatever else you want to call it - style of the show.

Luckily, the boy-tries-to-get-girl moment is only a brief parenthesis, and has little effect on the riveting game of 'whatever-you-do-I-can-do-better' in which each member of the company launches him/herself. Not to mention the fact that, apart from the superfluous soppy moment, the ladies remain constantly on a par with the guys, contributing greatly to the explosive atmosphere of the whole.

As I have said, old numbers punctuate the show. Yet, even if you think you have seen it all before - and you haven't, for there are some tremendous new bits too you will still have no reason to complain. The performing skills and the variety of the dancing are such that it is always a pleasure to rediscover some of the company's most successful signature ideas. …

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