Tip-top tap

“Boundless” offers an outlet for tap dancers and visual artists alike.

by Greg Corradini

For Kaleena Miller, a tap shoe is the thing that makes the dancer sing.

At the Cedar/Riverside People’s Center, the University dance sophomore practices her a cappella tap routine “BoogiiiE,” her footwork executing rhythms at machine-gun speed.

“Besides taking tap classes at the U, there are really no other opportunities for me to tap at the University,” Miller said.

Jamie Ryan, co-head officer of Student Dance Coalition, wanted to fill that gap. With the Arts Quarter Collective, the student organizations have created “Boundless,” a forum where student choreographers and visual artists can showcase their work.

The performance aspect of “Boundless” focuses on 11 student-choreographed dance pieces that might have as much to do with movement as they do with shoes.

“We sort of had a concept to start with (at rehearsals), and I had different methods to get at the movement,” said University dance and cultural studies senior Ben Rasmussen of his piece, “Tag You’re It.”

Specifically, Rasmussen’s movement concept began with the idea to use cross-training tennis shoes instead of bare feet, a fetish of the modern dance aesthetic.

Drawing on childhood games like tag, “Tag You’re It” became a physical romp featuring four female dancers. Rasmussen said the piece is structured thematically around childhood, growing up and the exclusion and inclusion that happens when kids play games together.

“It’s very much like little girl, superficial things,” said Rasmussen.

University dance majors are required to take composition classes to develop their choreographic skills.

Ryan said that many of the composition classes are steeped in a modern dance aesthetic.

With few opportunities to showcase their work outside of the Xperimental Theatre, Crisis Point and their composition classes, Ryan said that “Boundless” was an opportunity for all student choreographers – including those freshman choreographers – “to choreograph any style that they wanted.”

“I am very excited about “Boundless” because I know everyone in the program, and they are all these wonderfully creative people. They need (the outlet) to show their work. This is their chance,” Ryan said.

For Miller, chances like this in a city like Minneapolis are hard to come by.

“There’s not a whole lot of a tap community to draw from (in Minneapolis). So it kind of makes people like ‘Oohh, a tap dancer,’ ” said Miller.

Tap dancing is a form Miller has been concentrating on for 10 years and that she teaches at Zenon Dance Company and Lake Harriet Dance Center in her off time.

“(Boundless) is a real huge opportunity for students to do their own thing,” Miller said.

Bare footed or baroque, let the games begin and the shoes sing.