OZ Arts Nashville Presents ETM: Double Down

ETM dancer Matthew Murphy

ETM dancer Matthew Murphy

Groundbreaking tap dancer-choreographer Michelle Dorrance, winner of a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Grant”) brings her company Dorrance Dance to OZ Arts Nashville for two performances (December 9 & 10) of ETM: Double Down, their celebrated collaboration with dancer, choreographer and musician Nicholas Van Young. Performing on a percussive electronic tap boards designed and made by Young, the company creates a thrilling combination of movement and music.

In ETM: Double Down, three musicians, one B-girl (2016 Bessie Award nominee Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie) and seven Dorrance Dance dancers deliver an absorbing performance that twitches with invention. The dance takes place on electronic tap boards created by Dorrance’s longtime friend (and fellow STOMP cast member) Nicholas Van Young, which transforms the whole stage into a musical instrument producing what Dorrance calls ETM (electronic tap music). ETM: Double Down also features live music by an acoustic trio including vocalist Aaron Marcellus, bassist Gregory Richardson and pianist Donovan Dorrance.

“It is such a thrill and an honor to bring this musical exploration through dance to a city so significant to our country’s musical legacy,” says Dorrance. “I love Nashville but have never performed there and can’t wait to experience the audiences and that unique powerful energy.”

Dorrance and Nicholas Van Young first met as teens at the St. Louis Tap Festival, where they became enthralled by Gregory Hines and Savion Glover, and went on to perform together in the cast of STOMP. Young built the ETM: Double Down equipment by hand over a two-year, self-taught process of tinkering with tap boards and connecting them to a MIDI controller, popular in electronic music since the 1980s.

Michelle Dorrance’s choreography celebrates the unique and signature style of each dancer in her company. With ETM: Double Down, Dorrance cleverly magnifies the range of audible virtuosity we may otherwise take for granted in tap, reminding us that  “both eyes and ears are needed to get the full effect of tap.” Utilizing technology and specially devised “trigger boards,” Dorrance and her collaborators carve out a new trajectory for this genre. It is a personal mission for Michelle Dorrance to innovate and lift the perceived ‘status’ of tap that historically has been the “poorer, scrappier and more vulnerable” genre in comparison to its cousins, ballet and jazz. OZ Arts aims to support that mission by introducing Dorrance Dance’s visionary, percussive presentation to audiences in Nashville.

Michelle Dorrance began dance training at the age of three. Her mother, M’Liss, was a founder of the Ballet School of Chapel Hill and her father was the women’s soccer coach at University of North Carolina. Dorrance was mentored by Gene Medler, the legendary head of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble. Her choreography has been featured on stages throughout the world as well as in a high-fashion short film for Tabitha Simmons’ 2011 fall line. She is also one of the most in-demand teachers, including faculty positions at Broadway Dance Center and Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Dorrance is catapulting beyond the dance world. In what seems to be a short time, given her years teaching and performing in Chicago as part of Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World, in the past year she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship and has launched three critically acclaimed pieces, including ETM Double Down.

Performances will take place at 8pm and will last approximately 90 minutes, including intermission. Tickets are $69 and will be available for purchase at www.ozartsnashville.org. OZ Arts is located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle in Nashville, Tenn.