Rick Ausland, left, and Andy Ausland, co-founders of Bucket and Tap Shoes. Photo by Dan Norman.

Rick Ausland, co-founder of the popular Twin Cities dance troupe Buckets and Tap Shoes, suffered a life-threatening bike accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury.

But the 42-year-old dancer, percussionist, DJ and jack-of-many-trades is recovering after four days in intensive care.

Friends and family had feared the worst, and even set up a CaringBridge page. But Ausland was discharged from the hospital Monday, ready to get back to work.

“His recovery has been nothing short of miraculous,” said his mother, Mary Chismar. “I’m an emergency trauma nurse and I’ve seen a lot of head injuries and I’ve not seen someone recover so quickly. I really believe it’s the power of positive energy — all the outpouring of support he’s received.”

No one can say exactly what happened, and Ausland, who has a long road to recovery, has no recollection of the incident. About 8 p.m. on Aug. 26, he took a Nice Ride bike near his home in south Minneapolis. An hour later, a stranger found him bloodied with seizure-like symptoms near Lake Bde Maka Ska. An ambulance took him to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was intubated.

“The police seem to think there was no malicious activity or anything, but we don’t know for sure,” Chismar said. “I don’t want to say that somebody beat him up or if he had a seizure or was hit by a car.”

What is certain is that he had five broken ribs and a busted collar bone in addition to brain injuries.

Ausland founded Bucket and Tap Shoes with his brother Andy using 5-gallon buckets, metal cans, barrels and other found objects to create a percussive soundwave that tap dancers surf and punctuate. They have taken their street-style tap shows to concert halls across the country and the globe, including a tour to Russia about a dozen years ago.

And they have drawn glowing notices, including an exultant 2007 New York Times calling them “utterly brilliant” and noting that their “extraordinary tap dancers [are] as capable of channeling hip-hop as Astaire-like suavity."

Ausland’s supporters have set up a GoFundMe site to help with medical expenses. 

“Rick has this cheery, positive, energizing charisma about life, and I think that’s what’s going to get him through this difficult time,” said dancer/choreographer Giselle Mejia, who who was part of the tour to Russia.

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