If variety is the spice of life, then Rhythmic Circus is serving up something extra zesty right now. On Friday night at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, the locally grown percussive dance troupe, backed by a live band, put on a show with a treat for everyone.
But while "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" featured spectacular tap dancing and a wide array of grooves, it was also decidedly authentic, a jam-packed performance defined as much by the diversity of its fun-loving souls as its fast-moving soles.
Nick Bowman, Ricci Milan, Kaleena Miller and Galen Higgins made up the tight-knit team at the center of the action.
They demonstrated how well their talents mesh while also celebrating each other's individual strengths. Bowman was the smooth performer who made even the toughest tap-dance moves look effortless, while Miller injected a sense of cabaret-style elegance into the mix. Higgins took impish delight in pulling out tricks and surprises. Milan cultivated the role of consummate showman, a fast-talking comedian who can seriously hoof.
Whether doing a hand-jive in folding chairs, a soft-shoe in a sandbox or high stepping through a Sgt. Pepper's-style moment, each of the dancers found new ways to push themselves, seeking out reasons to earn applause or -- perhaps more important -- an appreciative pat on the back from a colleague onstage. This type of effort was most apparent in the spicy "Salsa" section that spun the quartet through mind-bending footwork.
But "Feet" was also about the music. A versatile seven-member ensemble (Alex Rossi, Cornell Blanchard, Heatbox, Pat Nelson, Dan Ristrom, Peter Vircks and Aaron Wiener) brought original tunes spanning influences from the funky Minneapolis sound to reggae cool. The musicians accompanied the dancers without fading into the background. At times everyone shared the stage, trading beats with playful virtuosity as in the "Porch Jam" segment.
Heatbox tied it all together with witty vocal sound effects and beatboxing, proving a voice can be as agile as a dancer's body.
Next stops for Rhythmic Circus include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and an off-Broadway run in New York City. During the past couple of years they've been touring cross-country. Step by step this hard-working crew, fueled by scrappy determination, is unleashing its irresistible boogie monster upon a welcoming world.
Caroline Palmer writes about dance.