Renowned tap dancer Sarah Reich packs quite a punch — or rather, stomp. This past Saturday, Reich brought her Tap Music Project to Stanford at the Elliott Program Center, putting on a show courtesy of the Stanford Jazz Consortium. Reich’s sold out performance consisted of a capella tap as well as original works with her live jazz band. Stanford’s very own tapTH@T gave opening and closing performances, as well.
The jam-packed room — with audience members in every available seat, standing in the back and on the sides and sitting on the floor together — lent itself to a cozy and intimate vibe. Reich’s smiles and sass created a casual atmosphere, where audience members and her performers alike were free to voice their appreciation.
Reich engaged the audience from the start, eliciting smiles and head bobs from the crowd while showcasing an amazing range of rhythm and choreography. Her synchronization with fellow tappers and close friends Anissa Lee and Assata Madison was near perfect, both in terms of percussion and choreography. The audience watched, mesmerized, as the tappers appeared to misstep and fall — only to catch themselves with a fancy step and a twirl.
Reich’s first a capella piece of the night, jokingly referred to as “Cardio” for the sheer of amount of straight tapping, introduced a new collection of sounds to the audience. In addition to the percussive steps that complemented the live jazz band earlier, the tappers now worked in a repertoire of sliding and brushing their feet on the floor for a softer sound. Reich made sure to keep the act interesting by mixing in complete stops. Silence would fill the room, giving the audience’s ears a short break, before Reich jumped right into a complicated combination of steps.
We were lucky enough to watch and listen to some of Reich’s originals, in which she tapped with Danny Janklow on the sax. The inspirations for this unusual duo? In Reich’s words, “I hear so much musicality in my head when I tap dance … It’s not just percussive rhythm; I hear melodies. I hear so many melodies.”
Certainly, the musicality of all of Reich’s pieces came through beautifully, each with its own character. “It’s Tapping,” a piece featuring all three tappers in sync, was filled with sass and fun hip movements, ending with each of the tappers leaning forward as though ready to sprint a mile. Several songs later, Reich brought out a more personal original, “For Chance,” written in honor of her teacher Chance Taylor, who took his own life; this piece was filled with smaller taps and longer pauses, creating more anticipation.
To conclude the night, Reich invited all tappers onstage — members of her group, tapTH@T, and even audience members — to perform the national anthem of tap dance, “Shim Sham.” In the end, 30 people, ranging from children to grandparents, enjoyed themselves onstage for a performance to remember.
Contact Serena Wong at serenaw ‘at’ stanford.edu.