Artistic Director Mark Yonally and Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) presented Tidings of Tap!, on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL. This one time only winter celebration provided an enthusiastic audience with a delightful production. In addition to creative choreography and skilled dancing, the live music and sets with projections that captured the feeling of the dances, the lighting and costumes created the perfect holiday experience.
Last year saw CTT move the show to a new venue, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, to gushing reviews and a record-breaking performance for the Company. Tidings of Tap! is choreographed by Yonally, Kirsten Uttich, Richard Ashworth, Valerie Lussac and Caleb Teicher and is a performance that captures the spirit of the holidays through joyful noise—celebrating Christmas, Chanukah and the winter season.
Now in its 15th year, Chicago Tap Theatre prides itself on breaking the mold of traditional tap dance. My favorite dance numbers are those with a balletic quality and those that tell a story – and oh yes, Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah with the amazing Russian inspired moves. Dasha Merkulova, (one of the top 23 rhythmic gymnasts in this country) enhances the dances she is in with a softer gentler movement quality that contrasts to the rhythmic quality of the tap movements.
“Dance has the ability to bridge gaps and bring people together which is especially important at this time of year,” said Yonally. “CTT is excited to return with this holiday production, as it has become one of our favorite things seeing familiar faces and families attending year after year celebrating their holidays with us. This year audiences will feel the magic of the Holidays more than ever in Tidings’ home at the North Shore Center.”
Returning dancers for Tidings of Tap! Include; Mark Yonally, Kirsten Ittich, Jennifer Yonally, Aimee Chause, Isacc Stauffer, Sara Anderson and Sarah Owens. New to the ensemble this year are Anabel Watson, Bailey Caves, Chris Matthews, Emily Broeker and Dasha Merkulov.
The artistic team includes Mark Yonally (choreographer), Kirsten Uttich (choreographer), Kurt Schweitz (music director), Rich Ashworth (choreographer), Valerie Lussac (choreographer) and Caleb Teicher (choreographer).
The opportunity to be carried away from the stress and tensions that surrounds us each day and even to step into the theater and out of the cold, into a place with delight, charm and a little magic was a real treat. The ending number is so exciting as young and old step on to stage to join the cast in performing the Shim Sham. Next year, don’t be left in the cold. Watch for future productions and don’t miss you opportunity to enjoy this delightful company.
ABOUT CHICAGO TAP THEATRE
Founded in 2002, Chicago Tap Theatre is a growing and vibrant dance company dedicated to preserving the quintessentially American dance form of tap while taking it to the next level of creativity, innovation and quality. CTT performs exclusively with live music provided by some of Chicago’s finest musicians playing everything from Duke Ellington to David Bowie and many artists in between. Under the dynamic direction of master teacher and performer Mark Yonally, CTT has gained a loyal and sizable following in Chicago and continues to tour both nationally and internationally. Having pioneered the “tap opera” format, which tells stories with compelling characters and intriguing plots, CTT has used the language of tap dance, live music and narration to move Chicago audiences for over 10 years.
To learn more about this company, go to the chicagotaptheatre website
Photos: Josh Hawkins