I had the extreme pleasure of photographing the tap performance that featured the amazing teachers at the North Carolina Rhythm Tap Festival at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro last weekend.

The very cool thing about the ArtsCenter as a performance venue is that from any seat an audience member can see the performer from the front and the actual surface of the stage where the feet meet the wood. As Jason Janas moved toward stage left during his solo he was looking slightly down toward the floor and I noticed the effect of this view: His shadow was clearly attached at his feet and he danced toward it as if in a duet with it. When he turned his back on the shadow and moved toward stage right, his shadow stretched itself like it was following him. Derick Grant’s solo was also an interesting shadow duet. His focus remained toward the floor, keeping the dance just between him and his shadow, which danced toward and away from him, and sometimes disappeared under his feet completely. He looked up at the audience at the end of the dance like he just realized they hadn’t been alone.

Besides allowing for the interesting visual perspective, the ArtCenter is a warm and cozy venue, perfect for what felt like a family reunion. Michelle Dorrance spoke about her “tap family” throughout the show. The five performers danced with a familial comfort together, and the audience, some tap dancers and some not, had the enthusiasm of finally seeing long lost and loved relatives.

And the dancing was some of the best dancing – most skillful and stylish – of any genre you are likely to see anywhere.

Jason Janas
Jason Janas
Nicholas Young
Nicholas Young
Michelle Dorrance
Michelle Dorrance
Derick Grant
Derick Grant
Derick Grant, noticing the audience
Derick Grant, noticing the audience
Chloe Arnold and Michelle Dorrance
Chloe Arnold and Michelle Dorrance
Chloe Arnold
Chloe Arnold
From left, Jason Janas, Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, Nicholas Young, Derick Grant
From left, Jason Janas, Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, Nicholas Young, Derick Grant
Yvette Glover singing a gorgeous rendition of Fly Me to the Moon
Yvette Glover singing a gorgeous rendition of Fly Me to the Moon