With Catlike Tread: Tap Dancer Jason Samuels Smith at the Joyce Theater

Written by City Arts on . Posted in Arts & Film, Arts Our Town, Arts Our Town Downtown, Arts West Side Spirit, Dance, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, West Side Spirit.


by VALERIE GLADSTONE

electrifies the stage with the grace and fierceness of a cat. The heir of Gregory Hines, he pushes the boundaries of tap, with a sure grasp of its history and potential.

Only 31, Smith has already won numerous awards, including the 2009 Dance Magazine Award, an Emmy for a television tribute to Gregory Hines, and a certificate of appreciation from the city of Los Angeles. He has also starred on Broadway and television, performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Sadler’s Wells in London, and served as associate choreographer for TV‘s “Dancing with the Stars.” His company ACGI (Anybody Can Get It) tours the world.

“I believe tap dance is connected to all things through mathematics and rhythm,” he says, “and the sheer spiritual energy it creates.  It is a true universal language, which we are still developing and mastering. Its full potential is still unreached.”

When Smith comes to the July 3-7, for his first full week season there, audiences will get a chance to see the premiere of his three-part work with the titles “Imagine,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and “Chasing the Bird” to a musical arrangement by and the tunes of Charlie Parker and . It will be performed by his five-piece band, and the great dancers , and .

In “Imagine,” Smith takes the role of an artist finding inspiration to dance and embracing art. Sumbry-Edwards, Arnold and Dorrance shine in “Charlie’s Angels,” tapping to recordings of Charlie Parker’s “Half Nelson,” “Yardbird Suite” and “Bird Gets the Worm.” Finally, they all take on specific characters in “Chasing the Bird,” as Smith becomes an artist who has given into materialistic temptations.

He likes contributions from his dancers when he’s choreographing. “Jason creates beautiful music,” says Arnold, “and then allows us to put our own style of movement to the work.” As interested in producing as performing, he hopes to give his dancers even more autonomy in the future. “I’d like to see this new work in a theater for an extended run,” he says. “I plan to develop a few productions that could run simultaneously. I would perform in them on and off.” A man with a mission, he adds, “I want to see and hear tap on television and radio, in films and on the Internet.”

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