Imagine a world where men have dance-offs instead of fisticuffs. Instead of going out on the lash, they tap dance. Rather than sit on the sidelines watching women dance around their handbags, they too join in with complicated routines. Well, in Australia they have made this Pineapple Dance Studios-dream come true with a new breed of men called Tap Dogs.
Sadly no actual dogs are involved, but there is a tap fox in the shape of dancer Adam Garcia who leads the rest of his male crew through 90 minutes of high octane, energetic tap. If this all may sound rather sexist so far, the score is made more than even with two bleached blond, short-skirted percussionists who play the drums in scaffolding, high above the dancers.
The show has no story line but a clear concept, with the six tap dogs working on a construction site. Such a setting offers them numerous surfaces and dangerous foundations on which to show off their impressive skills. Rather than simply workers by day, dancers by night, this group of macho builders find ways to tap their way through the working week.
Garcia takes on the role of foreman as he watches over the rest of the troupe, at one point becoming a tap dance Mr Miyagi – teaching a younger member of the cast the way to do it – at other points knowingly stealing the limelight with his more polished, slick style.
Wearing an assortment of scruffy attire from vests to sideways caps, and football socks, the common denominator is their heavy work boots fitted with the all important metal plates and microphones. Using ladders, loose slabs of wood, basketballs and harnesses, the group creates a number of different routines. In one stand out scene, Garcia taps between the other dancers who are welding the metal scaffolding, sending firework-like sparks over Garcia’s head in an uncharacteristic glittery moment.
Other than its obvious talent for the racket inducing dance, Tap Dogs cleverly integrates music into the show, with the group creating its own soundtrack with its rhythmic tapping. In one scene, the group dances on boards which each produce a different sound, creating live Garage Band-esque compositions.
Tap Dogs is a different type of dance show. Gone are the jazz hands and eager smiles, replaced with macho banter, nonchalant attitudes and occasional toilet humour. Feel free to break the rules of traditional playhouses and whoop your way through six men truly showing off with the skills to back up their boasting talk.