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Tapped Out

Tap dance performance to kick off Elon's CELEBRATE! week

by Alexa Milan,
  • Photo by Angie Lovelace.

  • Photo by Angie Lovelace.

Students can expect a very different kind of dance concert full of upbeat music, plenty of rhythm and energetic tapping April 27 and 28 in McKinnon Hall. 

A far cry from traditional ballet performances and even modern dance, “Tapped Out” will showcase the best of the department of performing arts’ tap students.

Junior Rachel Teem, one of the show’s student co-directors, said she thinks that “Tapped Out” should keep everyone entertained because it is so different from most other styles of dance.

“Ballet, jazz and modern dance are all sort of connected, but tap is something different,” Teem said.

“Tapped Out,” overseen by Lauren Kearns, assistant professor and coordinator of dance, and Gene Medler, adjunct instructor of dance, will help kick off CELEBRATE! week a few short hours after the last performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“I love the rhythm and the musicality and the physicality of tap,” said Kearns, who serves as the show’s artistic director. “It’s very electric and there’s something mesmerizing about the sound.”

Kearns described “Tapped Out” as celebrating the art of tap dance, and talked to Steven House, dean of Elon College, about including the show in the program of CELEBRATE!  festivities.

Kearns decided that she wanted to do a tap concert last spring and has been arranging “Tapped Out” ever since. In August, Kearns approached Teem and senior Jenee Cariello and asked them to co-direct the show.

“You’re not asked to co-direct things a lot, especially a first show, so it’s very exciting,” Teem said.

Since auditions were held in November, Kearns, Cariello and Teem have been conceptualizing, choreographing and rehearsing pieces with the dancers. They have also had weekly production meetings where they worked out the logistics of the program and put together advertisements.

“I don’t feel that I’m the one artistic director,” Kearns said of the show’s collaborative nature. “I think we’re tri-directors. Artistically, all three of us are driving this.”

Medler has also been actively involved with “Tapped Out.” The show will feature some of his original choreography. Medler is a renowned tap dancer, choreographer and founder of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble. Cariello said she considers it a privilege to work with him.

The show will feature tap dances set to a variety of music styles, including hip-hop, modern, Spanish and even Australian aboriginal. But “Tapped Out” will open and close with traditional tap phrases that have been passed down throughout history.

“Our goal was to have it not be all rhythm tap or all one genre,” Teem said.

Cariello said that her piece has a punk-vibe that she describes as “techno tap.”

“[Tap] looks effortless on stage, but people don’t realize how difficult it can be,” Cariello said.

Kearns said that showcasing the diversity of tap dance, both in style and level of difficulty, is what “Tapped Out” is all about. It also displays the creativity involved in using all parts of the tap shoe.

“Tap is going through a Renaissance at this point in time,” Medler said. “We want to preserve traditional work and look to the future.”

Medler said he thinks “Tapped Out” shows that there is room for both traditional and contemporary tap styles and displays the energy associated with each one.

“I always feel that everyone who taps has a good time,” Cariello said.

Kearns, Cariello and Teem all said they hope that feeling extends to the audience, and all three agree that tap should produce a spirit of community among both the dancers and the audience.

Kearns, Cariello and Teem are planning for "Tapped Out" to be performed annually and wanted to put together a solid program for others to follow. It is an opportunity for dance students to get more tap experience and for audiences to be entertained with a variety of high-energy numbers.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” Cariello said. “And we want to make sure we do it right.”