Review: OSCiLLATE by Old Kent Road

Contemporary tap dance innovates with electronic music

★★★
dance review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 17 Aug 2018
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Oscillate

Tap-dance lands solidly in the 21st Century with this energetic fusion of classical tap and street dance attitude. A series of solo, duet and ensemble pieces are strung together and played out to the driving rhythms of electronic dance music, which Kenneth Mockler has composed through manipulation of electrical currents. The contagious intensity of ensemble drumming is transmitted through the dancers' feet, and emphasised with well-integrated lighting design that adds visual impact through bulbs that fritz or create a rave-like strobe of colours.

A core of seven dancers are supported by two apprentices, and the central wooden floor is flanked by two rows of chairs in which the dancers wait between their sets. A supposed thematic development between the routines does not translate, but the pieces of choreography stand up in their own right. Two solos delivered to recorded texts are less successful, because the sonic clash betweent feet and words prevents full attention to either. A composition of live breaths, on the other hand, fully supports the step work.

Artistic director Avalon Rathgeb's vision is best transmitted through the magnetic performance of Dre Torres, who co-choreographed the show. Torres brings real emotional intent to her steps and her ease with the hybrid dance form stands out amongst others who can't quite hide a history of classical tap training in the set of their arms and posture. 

The contemporary musicality of the steps alongside deep bass feedback arcs of sound keeps the show fresh, and this troupe would smash it on Britain's Got Talent.