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The Peggy Spina Tap Company - Idiosyncrasy
-Onstage with the Dancers

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At the Spina Loft
115 Prince Street
NY, NY 10012
212.674.8885

Peggy Spina and Buster Brown, Choreographers
Musicians: The Joel Forrester Quartet

Performed by:
Dancers - Maya Krishnasastry, Yako Miyamoto, Misty Owens,
Sherry Stregack, Katy Wood
Musicians - Joel Forrester on Piano, Matt Garrity on Drums,
Dave Hofstra on Bass, Dave Sewelson on Baritone Saxophone

Audrey Ross Publicity
audreyrosspub@aol.com

by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
March 6, 2004

I have never before experienced tap dance with live jazz, held in a Soho loft, in which the dance company Founder, Artistic Director, and Choreographer actually lives and practices acupuncture and herbal therapy, as well. In fact, the public rest room is actually part of this home/office. A drapery hangs between the performance space/dance school, with its exposed brick and white walls, tall ladder, and green plants, and Ms. Spina's private residence/therapeutic office. Many in tonight's audience are personal friends and colleagues of Ms. Spina and her enthusiastic students. This was a warm and cozy affair, in the midst of Soho shops, bistros, and lofts, and the cobblestone streets create just the right pathway to this age-old dance genre, that is Tap.

The Joel Forrester Quartet with Mr. Forrester on keyboard, Matt Garrity on drums, Dave Hofstra on bass, and Dave Sewelson on baritone sax was dynamic and creative, sometimes the main act itself and sometimes the backup to dance. Tonight's music was Originally composed by Mr. Forrester, with the exception of In His Memory, by Milt Jackson, a tribute to tapper Chuck Green, and the selection was a combination of Swing, Boogie Woogie, Blues, Waltz, and Ballads. Mr. Forrester is a virtuosic pianist, and his accompanists were showcased in generous passages throughout the evening. This was a tightly knit collaboration (25 years, that is) of performance dance and jazz, and I was amazed at the cohesion, timing, and respect of the performers for their respective turns in the spotlight, so to speak, as lighting was even and generous.

The Peggy Spina Tap Company dancers come to New York from as far as Tokyo (Yako Miyamoto) and Dallas (Misty Owens, whose mother was a Folies-Bergère dancer). The dancers, all ladies, danced in black tie tap shoes, black pants, and colorful tops for each dance. Some dances were solos and some ensemble pieces. The ladies were always in step with the jazz ensemble and joyous in demeanor. In fact, while one dancer was performing a solo, the others were gazing in admiration. They were uplifting and athletic. They would enter from the doorway and sometimes walk to the rear of the prominent piano for a more visible introduction.

Honi, a novel solo, danced by Misty Owens, with her lovely long legs and chiseled features, was lyrical and lively. In His Memory, to Bluesology, by Milt Jackson, was casual and classy, danced by Misty Owens and Maya Krishnasastry. Where To? showed off bright silk tops, worn by all five dancers, and they "called" to Joel to cue his Quartet to join the dance, already in progress. The tap riffs conversed with jazz riffs in a very conversational and contemporary style. Timing was excellent, as musicians and performers were right in sync. After You, Joel, performed by a full ensemble, featured a blazing saxophone in Boogie Woogie rhythms that followed "body percussion" and sensational, sassy choreography. Leg kicks and tap techniques were always synchronized and stylized.

When the Joel Forrester Quartet played instrumentally, without tap, Mr. Forrester's piano solos were vibrant and virulent. These are musicians who could hold their own in any jazz venue; yet it was a double delight to have this jazz/tap combination. The second band solo was followed by Stop the Music, a very percussive piece, with Katy Wood, Yako Miyamoto, and Misty Owens spinning in red jumpsuits, alternating tap with drums. Waltz had a Brubeck feel to it, and the easy drum brushes and piano pulsation gave this dance a sensual and soft sensation. Late Night to Amaryllis, danced to Forrester's Drunk Bach, featured solo dancer, Sherry Stregack, and an amaryllis plant. Ms. Stregack has an ingénue quality, with blond curls, and resembles a silent film dancer or original Rockette.

Helen's Heart (from Blues to Boogie) brings out the dance ensemble with wide leg lunges and fast tap sequences. It should be noted that The Peggy Spina Tap Company is quite well versed in tap technique and is rhythmically resilient. Laura, the finale, brought the entire Company back with a breezy, buoyant, and very jazzed up interpretation of this familiar ballad. Kudos to Peggy Spina and her Tap Company and to Joel Forrester and his Jazz Quartet for an extremely entertaining Saturday night in Soho.


The Peggy Spina Tap Company and Joel Forrester Jazz Quartet
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



John Sefakis, Peggy Spina, Audrey Ross
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Joel Benjamin and Audrey and a Brownie a la Mode
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



Peggy Spina presents her tap choreography and company in a program entitled "Idiosyncrasy"
Photo courtesy of Stanley Patz



Peggy Spina presents her tap choreography and company in a program entitled "Idiosyncrasy"
Photo courtesy of Stanley Patz

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net