The Universal Language of Rhythm with Dorrance Dance

First Republic Bank
September 16, 2020

Watch award-winning tap dance company Dorrance Dance, founded by 2015 MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance, for an online event exploring creativity, innovation, and the tradition of tap dance as an agent for social change. Tune in to watch these brilliant artists celebrate what is most thrilling and beautiful about tap-dancing – that it is, at once, movement and music – and discuss its context in today’s changing world.

Read below for a full transcript of the conversation. 

Lauren Shortt - Hello everyone, I'm Lauren Shortt, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at First Republic. I oversee our bank's partnerships with arts or institutions nationwide, and I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to build our bank's multi-year relationship with today's guests. Thank you all for joining us for what we know will be a very special afternoon. We are delighted to share with you the universal language of rhythm with Dorrance Dance, an award-winning tap dance company founded by 2015 MacArthur Fellow, Michelle Dorrance. Today, Michelle Dorrance, artistic director will be joined by Nicholas Young, associate artistic director, and Aaron Marcellus, musician and composer, to discuss the tradition of tap dance as an agent for social change, and the significant role it has played in American culture. We'll also hear from a handful of Dorrance's amazingly talented dancers about the beautiful art of tap dancing. We'll get a glimpse into the creative process with Dorrance Dance company members, Leonardo Sandoval and Gregory Richardson as part of their project, "Music from the Sole", that's S-O-L-E by the way. A quick housekeeping note before we get started, we will not be hosting the Q&A session today, but should you have any technical issues, please reach out to us by using the Q&A button at the bottom of your screen. Without any further ado, I give you Dorrance Dance.

Michelle Dorrance - Thank you all for being here today. That was DD 12 8 QR, stands for Dorrance Dance 12 8 quarantine remix. And we're really grateful to be able to share that and a number of other things with you today. Thank you so much to Lauren Shortt, and thank you everyone at First Republic Bank for supporting Dorrance Dance, but also for supporting artists and the arts in this tremendous time of need, a really a catastrophic time for our field. Thank you all for being here and for being supportive. I'm so excited to speak with Aaron Marcellus and Nicholas Young today, after which you'll see a number of Dorrance dancers you just saw in that work. Dance tells some stories and we'll even get some insight into a process with Leonardo Sandoval and Gregory Richardson, two of our members who have gone off into a residency at The Cats band to create a work of their own. So, thank you for joining us. I'm going to launch into just a short conversation with Nicholas and Aaron about tap dance. Really tap dance and jazz legacy as the cornerstone of American culture. Some of the oldest music, you know, jazz also moving back down into the blues, some of the original, our original American music and tap dance, our original American dance form. And just acknowledging that these forms are rooted in a word that we wouldn't have used at the time, but it's important to acknowledge now as appropriation. We have to understand that when the drum was outlawed on slave plantations, the enslaved Africans of this time period were left with nothing percussive to communicate with, because drums were used to communicate escapes, and drums were also central to African life, and as tap dance and body progression, and a lot of this American music are part of the African diaspora, we have to look at the origin of some of the innovation coming from this time period and these very specific things that were happening. So, I invite Nicholas and Aaron to look back and look forward and talk about the way we have a relationship and acknowledge our cultural roots and our cultural ancestors, in relationship to tap dance and also jazz music legacy. Any thoughts, Nicholas?

Nicholas Young - Yeah, just when you say, just with that intro, I'm just thinking about, really we're talking about these slave plantations as like the birthplace of tap dance, of body music, of many of the rhythms that helped shape music, American music from that point on. We mention just the introduction of four of our phrases, breaking out of two for a time, not to mention like things that we know as six eight, but at them, were probably just labeled as exotic rhythms. You hear, but I mean, this can never be understated. The influence that happened with the introduction of this musicality of polyrhythm, of call and response, things that we don't even think. It's one of my favorite things to do as a teacher is when you're in an elementary school and people go clap, clap, clap, and everybody else goes to clap, clap, clap. You don't really think about that being rooted in African tradition, but it is. That was brought to the Americas from Africa. Things as simple as that, that it's in the absolute fabric of every note we play, of harmonies, of melodies, not just percussive rhythms, but also this idea of elaborately layered parts coming together, you know. And even that is sort of, we like to think of that as a symbol of America and symbol of our civilization and of our culture. Is this bringing together and its starts there.

Michelle - Any thoughts, Aaron?

Aaron Marcellus - No, that was just as well stated to just understand that rhythms are, and they come from vast places, but you don't really know why you feel in a certain way until somebody speaks it to you. Even when Nicholas, when we're doing school shows and you're doing your call and response, I'm sure it's a different internal response which each one of those children.

Nicholas - Yeah.

Aaron - And until you say, hey, this is where this comes from, or this is why it might feel this way over this type of rhythm, it's like, whoa, there's a light bulb. And then that starts them on a journey for the rest of their lives to go, who am I, and why do I like to listen to this artist or this type of music? And they may not even be able to acknowledge that question like I just said it. But it's something that happened inside.

Michelle - That's so real. And this was something interesting, the other night, Nicholas, Aaron, and I hung out and we took it all the way back to Sunday school for a second, we were just talking about our upbringing. And I'll never forget this teacher of ours who used to be our Bishop. And this looks like crazy is that, you can go from like the most powerful position to then teaching at like 6:30 in the morning, kids that don't want to be there at scripture study. But that said, he was trying to explain to us because they like having like subwoofers and pudding and souping up your car in that way, of course was becoming really popular more so in the early '90s at the time. And I mean, for like kids that wouldn't have been doing it in the '80s when people were originally out their cars. But he just said, you have to be mindful of this excessive bass. You have to be mindful of this excessive bass, and the kind of music that you want to amplify to this level, because there is nothing more powerful in music, and you can look down and your foot is tapping to the beat of the music, to the cadence of whatever is happening, and you didn't even realize. And I remember I just got goosebumps thinking about it. Because, of course we know this, but hearing him say it, and hearing him say it in a way where your spirit and your soul and something subconscious, acknowledging that these things are subconscious and they will live inside of you on some sort of molecular and spiritual and soulful level, that we are moved by rhythm in this way. And that our body can move without a conscious thought, due in time, is so powerful. And I just wanted to add that.

Aaron - Yeah, yeah. I feel like music can affect you based on perception, how you were taught to receive a certain type of music. So, there's an image that goes behind certain types of music, an image that was placed on certain types of music, but if you take away imagery, if you take away social constructs, and what people look like, you just hear rhythms, everybody is tapping their foot. Even within like, when we were talking about a little bit like religion before, growing up in the south and in church, there was sacred music and secular music. We appreciated it all, but we coined it and called it and categorized it. And depending on how deep off into the spirituality you were, you sort of cut off your desire to enjoy this secular music. So, when I was a kid, I didn't like certain RnB or hip hop. I wasn't a hip hop head because it felt unsacred to me. It's not because I didn't like the music, it was just because I wasn't one of the kids who jumped in the car like my brother who loved RnB, and I would always turn to some type of gospel. Now, it might've been like a new version, but I was just like, this music, there's something wrong with all of this bass, and it was unnerving to me. But it was because of the perception I had as a kid, that maybe this is somehow, something bad is going to happen if we ride down the street with this music on like this. You know what I mean? It really affects, it absent with your mind a little bit. Because just that religious nothing, spread out through different social sectors, and races, and stuff can really affect how people see you. So now, you have cops that look at kids, listening to a certain type of music, and it makes them feel a certain way about these people. Because of those belief systems, you know what I mean? It's a thing.

Nicholas - Yeah, and becomes like chronological too, because a lot of people would consider jazz music as classical music now. It was a revolutionary music, it was a revolutionary music for American black culture.

Aaron - Yeah, and it wasn't, it was considered like vulgaris, you couldn't call it jazz when it first started, yeah. It was like, but now it's celebrated so. It's perception of how you receive the music, it's a propaganda that's put out about it. Same thing about like rock and roll on the radio. What's all that?

Nicholas - It's all perceived as like heady and too complex, and like, not just classical music, but it's put in this box of like, almost like a scholastic old jazz, that's something you study at the conservatory, and then you play with small group of people, or a tiny group of dedicated jazz fans. You know what, it's bizarre.

Aaron - It is bizarre.

Michelle - Jazz music went from taboo or vulgar to literally the most popular music in the country. It's what everyone dance to. It's what, we have all social dance from then on, and jazz culture is really there.

Nicholas - Also the heyday, tap dance, not the heyday, but, you know.

Michelle - Absolutely, I mean, no, for sure, it was part of the arc of the heyday of tap dance, for sure, and certainly, the most pervasive in popular culture, as we know it today, in part, because that's filmed and recorded, right? And then it moves, rock and roll becomes popular and jazz also progresses into a more sophisticated place. All of these major progressions, by the way, rooted in tap dance and tap dance rhythms, we should just say. But to be makes it almost, yeah, this thing that you're talking about, Nicholas, esoteric, so now people can think of jazz and dismiss it as, oh, yeah, that's really complex, or you really have to understand it to listen to it. It's so funny that it went from, whoa, that's some dirty stuff, to like, this is literally the thing everyone listens to Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, moving past it into this place of extreme, there's a reverence, and like you just said, that there's an academic perspective on it, but, let me segue this into just speaking of our particular cultural ancestors. Like tap dancers, musicians, vocalists, and a way we can trace movements innovations, honoring individuals in the past that fought so hard and they created so much, it was a remarkable movement of artists that brought what we do and fought so hard for it to be this thing that could be a deep part of our culture, sacrificed so much. If we can, I just want to invite us to call their names and to bring them into this space.

Aaron - I'll start, we'll go back to my favorite, Elephant Gerald, as it pertains to just American art forms, founding in American art forms, and brother James Reese Europe, who was a huge jazz fan here back in the 1910.

Michelle - Yeah, the women sisters, I mentioned Alex and there was Alberta, they were pops women. There were a number of folks that were a part of this legacy, but they were an all-woman led black vaudeville troupe, but that was known to be the best ever. In part also because we forget the women so much, particularly the black women who were amazing in our form, and our sister and peer idea, like a cell is doing so much to keep those names alive. I just want the lowest bright, Cora LaRedd, Money to Pits, and one of our great really, our storyteller and historian who's alive today, Diane Walker.

Aaron - Yes. Because I grew up initially singing gospel, I have to say the name of Mr. Thomas Dorsey, who was accredited with being the founder of gospel music. Who's the first person to put blues and pop together, and put sacred, or what would be reverend for words with it, it's why we have the traditional gospel sound.

Nicholas - Now, I'm just going to say Charles Nichols because I mean, Chols and Atkins were of course a class act, and were also fighting a stereotype, or what they believed was a stereotype of tap dancers and wanted to give a different perspective of black tap culture. But also, they went on to choreograph at Motown, they went on to be a huge influence on American culture in general, just as movers and as choreographers and as teachers, but Hanni Kohl specifically influenced both of our teachers greatly, Michelle and I, and that movement, the first Colorado tap festival was the beginning of a movement that happened, and that he spearheaded in many ways.

Michelle - Yeah, thanks, Nicholas. From Hanni to my teacher, Jane Miller and Nicholas's mentor, is he a great... We were mentored by these folks that were seeking the sources is why we are here together today. Like, I think it's pretty incredible, and I'll take this opportunity to introduce you all too some dancers who are going to tell some short stories about some of our ancestors or elders that inspired them and share a little dance in honor and in tribute to them. So, we're about to meet Claudia Rahardjanoto, Byron Tittle, and Elizabeth Burke. But first, I'd like to thank you, Aaron, and thank you, Nicholas for being with me, and thank all of you for spending this time with us. And I'll hand it up to you, Claudia.

Video: ♪ If tomorrow is judgment day ♪ ♪ And I'm standing on the front line ♪ ♪ And the Lord asked me what I did with my life ♪ ♪ I will say, I spent it with you ♪ ♪ If I wake up in World War III ♪ ♪ See destruction and poverty ♪ ♪ And I feel like I want to go home ♪ ♪ It's okay if you're coming with me ♪ ♪ Your love is my love ♪ ♪ And my love is your love ♪ ♪ It would take an eternity to break us ♪ ♪ And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us ♪ ♪ Your love is my love ♪ ♪ And my love is your love ♪ ♪ It would take an eternity to break us ♪ ♪ And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us ♪ ♪ If I should die this very day ♪ ♪ Don't cry ♪ ♪ because on Earth we weren't meant to stay ♪ ♪ And no matter what the people say ♪ ♪ I'll be waiting for you after judgment day ♪ ♪ Your love is my love ♪ ♪ And my love is your love ♪ ♪ It would take an eternity to break us ♪ ♪ And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us ♪ ♪ Your love is my love ♪ ♪ And my love is your love ♪ ♪ It would take an eternity to break us ♪ ♪ And the chains of Amistad couldn't hold us ♪ ♪ Your love is my love ♪ ♪ And my love is your love ♪ ♪ It would take an eternity to break us ♪

Byron Tittle - Hi, everyone, my name is Byron Tittle. I am from New York and I'm a tap dancer and as a Dorrance Dance member, I think it's extremely important to stay cognizant of my predecessors in tap dance. I have been so lucky to have amazing teachers. And one of them is Kendrick Jones the second. And, he reiterate to me so often that there was so much more beneath me than the word. And as I get older, I hear it more often to myself, or I say it more often to myself and I always think of new ways to materialize it and visualize it. And recently I know there are so many dormant souls in tap dance that did not get the credit that they were due whether because of, while they were tapped in say, racism and prejudice is so rampant or whether they're women and they didn't get the due credit that they deserved. And every time I put on my tap shoes, I'm able to ignite those dormant souls and materialize it in front of me and make sure that they are getting the credit that they were due. It is so important for me specifically, and as a Dorrance Dance member to champion for the voices that I know have changed me. And some of them, you may know, for example, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Chuck Green, but also the names you don't know like Tip, Tap and Toe, or Cora LaRedd for example, who was a beautiful black woman, who, during the early 1900s, thrust onto the scene from Harlem on Broadway in the Cotton Club, and, on the screen as well, she was a soloist. In many, a jazz shorts, one for example, in 1938 called, "That's the Spirit", very, very prominent jazz short film. And she was accredited with bursting out of her scenes and showing so much of her talent and her excellence. And she was able to transcend a lot of the gender lines that were being formed and tapped in us. She shortened her Mary Jane heel, she shortened her shorts as well, liberated herself and her movement and her voice to be able to express herself to the highest of capacity. She made room for women like Michelle, woman like Donisha, women in the company, women outside of the company that are making so many surges in tap dance to be able to speak clearly and firmly in their beliefs, to be able to express themselves. Especially in a time when, not only being a woman, but being a black woman was so mistreated, she forged a new way. And its women like her and the men and women from her generation make it possible for me to be able to share with you. So, today I'm going to put on a little Oscar Peterson, the tune is called, "In the Stale of the Night", and, I hope you enjoy. Thank you.

Elizabeth Burke - Hi, my name is Elizabeth Burke and I am in my home studio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I grew up under the direction of the founder and artistic director of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, Gene Medler. Gene is still my teacher, is still my role model, still my confidant, my best friend. He is wise beyond his years, and so smart and selfless and generous and as young people, he went out of his way to make sure that yes, he was teaching us, but he was bringing in our living tap dance legends, and our living top dance masters to share and teach us as young people, which I am profoundly grateful for and I will always be profoundly grateful for. The two acts that I want to talk about today with you are the Nicholas Brothers and Coles and Atkins. So, as a young girl, I was able to take class from Fayard Nicholas here at the studio, and a year or two later, Jean also brought in, Charlie Atkins. So, the Coles and Atkins was Charles Honi Coles and Charlie Atkins. Honi Coles had already passed by the time Charlie came to visit us, but I met Charlie at a young age and I'm just going to show you photos really quickly of these four men. So, here we have the Nicholas Brothers. We've got Fayard on top and Harold on the bottom. And here we've got Coles and Atkins. So, Honi Coles is up top and Charlie Atkins is down below. So, Charlie was who I knew as a young girl. And just for fun, I have another photo of Charlie Atkins, Diane Walker, a living tap dance master and legend. Michelle Dorrance, my big sister. That's me as a kid in elementary school, and that is Gene Medler, our collective teacher role model, everything. So, these arts, these four men, and what they did. The Fayard Nicholas is... I'm sorry, the Nicholas' brother, the Nicholas brother’s heyday, happened a little earlier in the 20th century than Coles and Atkins, but stylistically, they were very different. The Nicholas Brothers were a flash act. So, they incorporated a lot of acrobatic work things that were extremely athletic that require a ton of agility, gifts that I will never possess. That was a really part and parcel to their act. And then with Coles and Atkins, you had what was known as a class act, the class act. So, they were known for their soft shoe tap dancing, so, less flash and splits and jumps, but they were more focused on elegance and lines and clarity and spacing and finesse almost debonair. So, what I love about both of these acts is that the music that they both make, it's just some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard inside of tap dancing. My favorite tap dancers are my favorite musicians and so stylistically, they were very different, but the music they make is so gorgeous and their use of space and their attention to detail is something that's really breathtaking and usually inspiring. So, let's see here. So, if I were to quote the Nicholas Brothers, I might say a little something like this… (Dancing). And then, if I shift gears. Take it down a little, I might say something like this…. (Dancing).

Aaron - Hey guys, so in honor, of my favorite singer of all times, Miss Ella Fitzgerald, I'd like to do a song for you that she did with Mr. Louis Armstrong. Now these guys were jazz giants, and they are noted to be founders of pioneers of the scatting styles. So I want to invite my brother, Mr. Warren craft to do this little giddy with me. You ready War'? Here we go. Thanks. (Singing and dancing).

Leonardo Sandoval - Hi, my name is Leonardo Sandoval I'm a dancer and choreographer from music from the soul.

Gregory Richardson - Hey, I'm Gregory Richardson, I'm a bassist, a composer, and I'm the musical director of music from the soul, we are a tap dance and body percussion and live band company. And we are here at Cat Span in upstate New York, doing a very special residency. We brought our company and we had to do several COVID tests, a rapid test right before we came, and quarantine for two weeks, so that we can be here sharing the same space, and, sharing meals, hanging out working. And there's also a performance aspect where we are doing four showings on an outdoor stage, so that the audience can be outside, socially distance being safe. So, for these times of quarantine, it's a really special opportunity for us.

Leonardo - Yeah, we are super happy to be here, and even more happy to share it with you guys, a little snap off what we've been doing. So, you're about to see myself and Greg, and also Hosek Resata on sax, Noah Kings on piano, and Jezeli Silver, dancing with me as well. So, hope you guys enjoy.

Leonardo - Amazing.

Michelle - That was so beautiful.

Gregory - Thank you.

Michelle - Thank you, Music from the Sole and thank you so much, Leonardo and Gregory for joining us. This is my brother, Donovan Dorrance, we are here to ask a few questions about creative process about this specifically, but about the larger thing that we do as dancers, musicians, and everything in between. So, let me just jump right in and ask Leo, Leo, when you're moving into a new idea or even a new piece, conceptually, how do you approach the collaborative process with Greg and with music? Do you walk in with a groove? Do you wait to let things kind of present themselves in a space with people? Does it depend on what the piece is? I'd just be curious to hear that from you.

Leonardo - It goes from different places, actually. When we decided, when we found out that we are coming for this residency here, Greg and I started to work on what we are calling like some building blocks. So, I was like kind of sending some groove ideas for Greg, not asking him to do anything like, so, he had the ideas and he was also sending me music ideas, not related to anything that I was doing. So, specifically for that, that little piece that you guys saw it, he sent me the groove of the taps that he actually wanted and the music that he already was building for it. And my job on that, on this specific piece of choreography was to create movements for us, for me and Jezeli the case, that we're always like locked into that same groove. So, sometimes we are like doing the same thing together, sometimes we are doing different steps, but with the same rhythm, but the rhythm is always the same. So, kind of Greg was choreographing a little bit in this.

Michelle - Nice, Greg.

Donovan Dorrance - Yeah, Greg.

Michelle - That's really cool.

Gregory - Yeah, that's a thing, it's like a super quarantine specific style now because it was all based on just sending videos back and forth because we couldn't really meet. But I think it ended up working really well, but it was only out of necessity really.

Donovan - Greg, I have a question for you. Sort of, to jump right off of Leo's description of how you like came in with this idea ready. I'm curious about your process and how it is distinct with Music from the Sole versus dance companies you've worked with in the past, like Dorrance Dance? How you approach working with a choreographer, how you approach working with your musicians who bring some ideas, like, power dynamics, those kinds of things like.

Gregory - Wow, yeah, I could talk a lot about that. It's really a pleasure to be on both sides. And I think it's good that we both have had the experience of working for an artistic director who has a vision, and kind of being like, how can I be at your service? Sometimes you're adding compositional ideas, and also sometimes, someone's saying, well, hey, I need this. Or can you cut some of this? And so, it's interesting working with being on the other side of it, where of course I'm constantly encouraging people to bring their creative ideas, but at some point also you have to say, that's a cool idea, but I don't think it works, I don't think it fits. And I know that when I hear that on the other side, that it can be an emotional ride to be like, what do you mean it doesn't fit? Like, it's awesome. So, it's been a fun, it's actually been really interesting with both the other musicians, Jose the saxophone player and Noah the pianist. Really inviting them into the process so that they feel invested, and using some of their ideas when they're good, but also having like a very, just friendly, straightforward way of being like, I don't want it, I don't want to use that because this is my chance to have... Like, not everything has to be my idea, but I do have one overarching vision that I want everything to fit into. And it's that I don't want to make any music that sounds like, he made some tap and I made some music, and they happen to be in the same tempo, so, let's just put them on top of each other, but they're not really speaking to each other because that's so easy to do, and I just want everything to be like, it was made together, it fits together, even if it's complicated, and it's still like intentional and not just like, oh, man, you made a funky groove. I made a funky groove too, but they're not really locking up in any like, super intentional way, and I just don't want to deal with that right now. So, that has kind of been like my compass creatively.

Donovan - Sure. Well, the piece you guys just did was entirely cohesive and it seemed like everything worked out the exact way that you intended it to.

Gregory - Thanks.

Leonardo - Thank you.

Michelle - In fact, I was going to ask the two of you, in relationship to that in part, because, and I love knowing that that's something that was in your mind compositionally, Greg, what exactly was happening with the taps. In working with a group of percussionists and musicians at the same time, are there different times when you're locking in with different things in order to keep you connected with exactly what we're talking about? You always want to feel that cohesion. Sometimes I just know as a dancer, sometimes it's easy to lock in with another dancer, but your ear is right here with the band. So, maybe our eyes are here or maybe my ear, one ear is with the dancer, and one ear is particularly with the baseline, that funky baseline, or we would just be curious to hear from both of you kind of what is it like to ride that wave, and what are the things that you count on most consistently? And does some of it involve eye contact versus some of it is involving, even though I'm looking here, I'm always listening here. Just be curious to hear that.

Leonardo - Yeah, we actually had a little ride on this type of feeling here. Like, we came here for our first week to perform a 10 minute piece. So, we got a piece that we, five minutes was something that we already had, and another five minutes stuff that you guys just signed this video, that all the stuff we were cool with it, but the thing is like, every single person in the room, like, the five people, me, I was blamed by the percussion, Jezeli was doing tap, Greg on the bass, Jose on the sax, and Noah in the key. So, each one literally had a voice. And we were having a lot of trouble to kind of make everybody listen to each other and groove to each other. So, it was a bit of a ride. I don't understand why we got to that point because it was a piece that we actually already have going on.

Gregory - It was a tempo, it was a tempo thing. It was just like it just kept dragging and pulling back, and it'd be like, tempo, guys, tempo, and we just kept doing it over. We just keep going back and back, I don't know, it was something about a combination of the saxophone was like, doing this like jazzy thing, so, he's kind of playing behind the beat, which is fine if the rest of the band can push it. So, he's already doing that. They're getting into that tap dancer thing where they're swinging so hard, that when they're bringing down the snare, it's like, and you can pull the snare against the rhythm. If everybody else is pushing it forward, then you can be way back in the pocket. But if everybody's doing it, it just keeps going back, and it's so frustrating.

Leonardo - I think like the problem on there is that we all listened to each other maybe too much in that case, and like, we are always trying to help each other and keeping in tempo, but we are all like dragging down. A little frustrating.

Gregory - Yeah. So, what we ended up doing was just setting up the metronome, just back to basics, find the tempo, everybody listen, and we just did it like, which is hard for five people to follow a metronome in a complicated thing. And also, wanting to like kind of train people to not depend on the bass all the time, Like I couldn't plow forward and just be like, you're wrong, I'm right, just everybody listen to me, but that's lame, like we should all be listening to everybody and everyone should know what they groove is for themselves. Not just like following the loudest instrument or the most obvious instrument. I mean, it's fine if you're in a live performance, like I can't hear, you're far away, let's just all lock in on the bass. But when we're in the creative process and we're literally feet away from each other, it's like, listen to the tap dancers. Because that's not easy for every music, that's a learning curve, like being a non-tap dance musician and then working with tap dance musicians is like, there's a lot of weird intricacies in there that just only take time to get used to.

Michelle - Yeah, and that is also why, those of us who get to work with people like you, Greg, are so lucky because you care, and that's a part of your compositional ear. So, I also just say, thank you for being a collaborator, not just to myself, Donovan, to Leo, and our whole world, we're really lucky.

Donovan - Yeah, a hundred percent.

Michelle - And, Donovan, you do have another question, right?

Donovan - Yeah, I do have another question. This can be for either of you, and this can be specifically for what we just watched, or it can be for Music from the Sole as a whole entity, your emo, but the general question is, what do you want audience members to walk away with after watching this piece or any piece that you guys do? I know as an audience member, watching like music and dance simultaneously, I have a different perspective than say, Michelle would, we both have like maybe more background in either area. So, for the two of you, a dancer and a musician, but also, you can both be either one. What's the ideal feelings or thoughts or any of that that you would want an audience member to walk away with upon watching Music from the Sole?

Leonardo - You want to start?

Gregory - Yeah, sure. Well, I would say, because I'm in this creative mode right now, like, we did one version of this show yesterday and now we have another five days, so, it will probably be a fairly different version next weekend. So, as of today, we're going back into like fully creative mode, which means like, when we're making these building blocks, it's like trying not to like shut them down right away. Like, fine, this block seems kind of childish, let's just give it its full 45 minutes, develop it, and then put it back on the shelf. And maybe, that's it. Maybe, not use it, you know what I mean? So, right now I'm like, so in the mode of like, not even trying to judge what we're making. Like, maybe it's really simple or maybe it's awesome, but just like not criticizing it right off the bat, that I'm pretty far away from thinking about how I want someone else too to perceive it, you know what I mean? So, yeah, I mean, that's where my mind is at right now.

Leonardo - What I want people to like come out of a performance store. I don't know. Greg and I were doing a lot of street performing before we actually tried to come up with a show and became a company, and also because we worked with you guys as well. And one time in a street performance, a girl, just like in a corner when we just finished, she was just like, oh, yeah, it's just music, it's just like music. It was just like such a click for her. And was so honest that I could see that she was like, oh, I can see the music and hear the dance kind of in a way. So, that's maybe what I want people to come out of, the performance with, like, the band is not there as a background for us, and we are not like trying to drive the band some way, it's just one thing. It's not a band and a dance company, it's a dance company band, I guess.

Michelle - That's so beautiful.

Donovan - Absolutely, yeah, beautiful.

Michelle - Oh, guys. And honestly that is indicative in your name. I mean, it is, I think that the embodiment of music in every direction is really beautiful. And also, there is a dance to the playing of every instrument. And it might be a dance that we think of as playing instrument, but really it is also another physical dance. And I think that, in part, because there are such intricacies in tap dance. It can become like very intricate thing that you might not be able to see from a balcony if you're just doing very minute foot movement. So, it is interesting that I think tap dancers and musicians can identify in this very unique way. And the two of you are just such an incredible example of that. So, thank you for sharing with us your creative process, and I can't wait to see this come to fruition. Any plans? Right now, you're just creating, you're trying not to put any parameters on it, right?

Gregory - Well, we'll do the first performance Saturday, Sunday, and then Monday we go directly from here in the same quarantine bubble, in the bus to Lincoln Center and we'll film it there and then they'll-

Michelle - That's great.

Gregory - Somehow. So, you can definitely see it sometime soon.

Michelle - Everybody, please stay tuned to the full Lincoln Center performance. But I also hope there's a bootleg of the performance just because the environment is so beautiful. So-

Gregory - Oh, yes.

Leonardo - Yeah.

Michelle - Great. Thank you so much for joining us y'all, and taking time out of your residency, because it's really special.

Leonardo - All right, thank you, Mich, thank you, Don.

Gregory - Thank you, see you soon.

Aaron - Just want to say thank you so much. Thank you for spending time with us today.

Michelle - And thank you, Aaron, and thank you, Nicholas, and thank all the members of Dorrance Dance who participated. Thank you First Republic Bank for being such a support and for believing in artists, especially in a time like this. Nicholas, we heard you were going to share a little something with us with the few of your incredible instruments laying around your house.

Nicholas - I got a little something out of calabash.

Aaron - Calabash.

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