Michelle Dorrance was destined to have legendary legs. Her mother was a ballerina, and her dad was one of the most successful American soccer coaches in history. Gifted with these genes, their daughter chose a different direction, pursuing instead the art of tap dancing. As both a choreographer and a dancer, she mixes the musicality of tap with the complexities of contemporary dance. Because Dorrance knows the rules of the traditional dance form so well, she is a master at breaking them. In recognition of this, last year the 36-year-old was awarded a $675,000 MacArthur “Genius Grant” for her reinvigoration of the American art form. Although Dorrance thinks “the title is so absurd, I can’t take it seriously,” don’t be fooled. She is unquestionably an artistic visionary to watch. We’re in luck because, after a stop at the Kennedy Centre, her company, Dorrance Dance, performs her “electric” show, ETM: Double Down, at the NAC Theatre Oct. 14 and 15.
The show is a fusion of acoustic and electronic sound where dancers literally tap out the score as they move across platforms and trigger boards. This zealous performance may bring to mind the scene from BIG where a childlike Tom Hanks dances on the giant piano keys in FAO Schwartz. “If Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka played Tom Hanks, that would be an accurate depiction,” says Dorrance about the show’s aesthetic. ETM: Double Down is surely a golden ticket.
Photography: Jamie Kraus