When Nick Bowman was nine years old, a friend bet him $50.00 that he wouldn’t take a tap dance class. Bowman signed up, took two steps onto the dance floor, slipped and fell flat on his back. Looking up at the ceiling, he knew that tap dancing was for him. As part of the Rhythmic Circus visit sponsored by Student Life and Leadership, Bowman visited Alder Amphitheater at Salt Lake Community College to perform and teach a master class with a crowd of about 400 in attendance.
“It’s [tap] a marriage of music and dance,” said Bowman. “It’s about the audio and the visual.”
Rhythmic Circus began their act, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” with the four tap dancers of the group performing “a cappella.”
Mikayla Green, who is majoring in radiation therapy and was attending the concert for her Dance and Culture class, said that the a cappella performance was her favorite because she “could hear the tapping more.”
Rhythmic Circus member Ricci Milan asked if there were any dancers in the audience. About 30 percent by his count responded with cheers.
“Everybody dances,” Milan said. Sitting at home, maybe doing laundry, with the headphones on and it just happens. He began doing a version of the Carlton. Then the group went through a dance retrospective from junior high and high school that included the Running Man, the Tootsie Roll and the Sprinkler.
When he asked again how many dancers there were in the audience, everyone cheered.
“The ‘Kid’ [Galen Higgins] is Broadway,” said Tonya Mortensen, a dancer with 20 years of experience who attended the performance.
The members of Rhythmic Circus have a variety of talents that they each bring to the dance floor. Kaleena Miller is a classic beauty and classically trained. Milan is street and reminiscent of Savion Glover. Bowman is sunshine with raw strength. The group meshes four different styles of dancing seamlessly.
The show itself provided several types of musical experiences beyond the tap. The band played Jazz, Rockabilly, and Hip Hop.
Aaron “Heatbox” Heaton elicited the strongest vocal response of the evening. He began performing his beatbox routine, recording the different vocal stylings on a machine at his feet. When his lips stopped moving and the beat kept going, the audience groaned. When the audience figured out that he was recording the tracks and playing them back live, they cheered.
“It’s a ten. It’s cool,” said sisters Kimberly Carter, an English major and Traci Carter, majoring in photography. Kimberley enjoyed the dancing on the sand pad and Traci liked the “folk chair seat” dance, which used folding chairs as the main instrument.
Earlier in the day, Rhythmic Circus performed a teaser in the quad on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. Along with the four tap dancers, there were drummers and horn players.
After the teaser, Bowman went to teach the master class. About 10 people participated. Bowman talked about the importance of respecting those who created the steps. He led the students through a series of exercises to warm them up and gave advice such as the fact that creasing the shoe keeps the heel up and allows for a good heal tap. He also said that being loose allows for a stronger tap.
“I can’t imagine not liking tap dancing,” said Bowman.