Arts preview: Movement Afoot's 'Count Us In'

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive

Tap dance: Where you're not just moving to music, you're making the music.

Movement Afoot will present its second full-length concert Friday and Saturday, May 26 and 27, in the Shedd Theatre at the Columbus Performing Arts Center. The program will celebrate the varied forms and styles that fall under the tap umbrella.

“For us, the thing about tap is the auditory [aspect] that defines what tap dancing is,” said Co-Founder and Director Lauren Squires in a recent phone interview. “Some [dance] styles are not as focused on the auditory, the rhythmic, but for me that's what I try to make the focus.

“We're not doing kick lines. We're creating rhythm, creating music with our bodies. What is so attractive about tap is the creation of music and sound through a modality that is dancing, using the body to do those things. Other dance forms have auditory components, but that [emphasis is] what sets tap apart.”

Squires started Movement Afoot in 2014 with Janet Schroeder. The company performed at area festivals and other events, but Squires said the members longed to do a performance for which they did not have to bring their portable wooden floors.

“Once we had a group of people committed, we wanted to take the time to put something together where … [we could] stretch ourselves as a group. … Something more elevated,” Squires said.

“Count Us In” will feature three distinct sections. The first will feature new works choreographed by Squires to contemporary pop songs by Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and more. The set will include primarily up-tempo numbers, but also pieces with more flow.

“It surprises people that, in tap, you can slow things down or do something a little bit meditative,” Squires said.

The second portion will be a suite of three jazz/swing pieces by Schroeder, displaying the rhythmic quality of the form that has historically linked tap with jazz music, including one piece to be performed without musical accompaniment.

The final portion will blend pieces from the company's repertory with purely improvised dances, accompanied by pianist Nate Shaw.

“[Shaw] will play some jazz tunes and we're just going to dance,” Squires said.

Guest artists Daniel “TrigNO” Turnbo, a hip-hop dancer, Indian Kathak dancer Mansee Singhi (Friday only) and the GOREE Drum & Dance company, which performs traditional West African drum and dance (Saturday only), round out the program.

“These artists are all aligned with the rhythmic tradition that we're drawing on,” Squires said. “We want a program that is captivating, entertaining [and] thoughtful. We're no different than other dance companies in that respect.”

Columbus Performing Arts Center

7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 26-27

549 Franklin Ave., Downtown