They call the organization “10 Foot Five.” They call the show “Buckets and Tap Shoes”. It’s at Rarig on the Proscenium stage. I first saw them on a Walker Choreographers’ Evening ten or more years ago (sorry Ausland Brothers, I’m putting age data out there on all of us). There were five of them and they had, of course, ten feet. I’ve always thought this was one of the cleverest names for a dance company that I’ve ever encountered.
This year’s show is one helluva lot of fun. There’s some powerhouse live music, heavy on the percussion. But we’re especially blessed that they have brought back a piece from several years ago.
The two brothers Ausland deliver a verbatim tap duet rendition of Mozart’s Rondo ala Turk. It’s a small masterpiece. As an ex-pianist myself, specializing in Mozart, Bach, Chopin and Joplin, I know quite well that they are rendering almost the entire piano score note for note. There are a tiny few exceptions. And there are a tiny few delicious embellishments. They make it look easy. It’s a virtuoso turn.
Over the past ten years they have evolved, prospered, and changed. They still drum on plastic buckets, they still tap with frenzy, but personnel have evolved and increased. They’ve also been on national tour quite a lot, and have gotten rave reviews. If you’re new to The Fringe and nervous about catching “something amateur” by mistake, rest assured with this show. It is polished, practiced and will blow you away.
Their opening night audience gave them a standing. The only one I’ve seen yet at dance shows.
A special element is the fact that the brothers Ausland are not just skilled tappers. They also are skilled percussionists. They can drum with the best of them. At least one, and perhaps two, of their backup musicians have some tap chops to go with their musicianship.
A second special element is that they are (forgive me Auslands if this isn’t the labeling you would prefer) deeply embedded in the classical tap style. Stylistically and technically they seem to me more like Honi Coles or Gene Kelly on uppers than like Savion Glover. Frankly I love it. They take this deeply developed classic approach and bring fresh concepts to it, such as the powerhouse live percussion and pieces like the Mozart.
There’s also a sense of humor. It’s always been there, as long as I’ve seen them. There’s a conspicuous “Lord of the Dance” joke that got an LOL out me – and that’s hard to do. There’s a moment when the heavy-metal pounding music ensemble is joined by Rick Ausland on ukulele. I have to say, though, that the inclusion of “magic” tricks such as pulling an endless handkerchief out of someone’s mouth, is problematic.
Get tickets early. This one is going to have a ton of buzz.