Urban percussion and macho tap dance merge in this testosterone-fuelled live show
This article is from 2014.
Combining whipcrack footwork and grubby dungarees, Pausanias' production brings tap back to its rough rhythmic routes of the American crossover dance that evolved from early British settlers and West African slaves – before Fred and Ginger made it flash and dainty.
The setting is a testosterone-fuelled factory, the props scaffolding, ladders, sand and danger-marked oil drums, all used to offset a palette of different rhythms and dynamics.
Indeed the range of beats in Gilles Guenat's midway solo is dazzling. One moment he is scraping his toes through light-foot syncopation, the next his heels are drumming a Celtic current that wouldn't sound out of place in Riverdance.
But there's an extra element to this show, and that's the edge of physical comedy with a very French feel. Pausanias is innocent, posturing and disparaging in turn as he drums up clapping rivalry between slices of audience, or parodies jazz double bass using a broom, string and oil drum. Jérémie Champagne too is gifted in the art of elegant slapstick; his first solo whizzes by so comically fast you wonder if there is anywhere left for him to go with the next (there is).
Some segments in the first half feel disappointingly fleeting – Konan Kouassi's hypnotic body-popping-African fusion is only just getting going when it comes to an end – but by the time the ensemble come together for a big band dance-off in the penultimate number, those Fred-and-Ginger-style dainty feet mean that all is forgiven.
Edinburgh Playhouse, Mon 31 Mar.