Coming together this weekend for their third collaborative dance concert, Liaisons Deux, are the rhythm makers of Chicago Tap Theatre and its sister tap company Tapage, from Toulouse, France. This intercontinental arrangement is the work of artistic directors Mark Yonally (CTT) and Valerie Lussac (Tapage).
Yonally and Lussac first met about 15 years ago at the Portland Tap Festival, but lost touch as both pursued their tap-dance careers on different continents. They reconnected five years ago when Yonally was teaching at a festival in Paris and a mutual student recommended that they meet.
“It was totally weird,” says Yonally during a Sunday rehearsal at Joel Hall Dance Center, where CTT is in residence. “We had a ten-year gap in our contact, meet again in France through a student who saw similarities in our style, and discover that we are both exploring the same things aesthetically in tap dance. We both strive to include more conceptual and emotional elements in our tap choreography. I suggested that our two companies work together.”
In April 2004, CTT and Tapage shared their first concert, Liaison, in Chicago at the Harold Washington Library Auditorium. The two companies then repeated the program that October at three different cities in the French region of Midi-Pyrenees.
In Liaisons Deux, each company will show pieces from its own repertoire as well as perform some dances together as one ensemble. The program includes Spyrographe, choreographed by Lussac (and which CTT premiered at the Athenaeum during Dance Chicago 2005), as well as a yet-to-be-titled duet with Yonally and Lussac. CTT contributes Glory Box, a sexy dance full of angst set to music of Portishead; and Motherless Child, “a dance in which a young man deals with alienation,” according to Yonally.
CTT stands out for its ability to communicate emotion and tell stories through tap technique. Yonally says he likes to push the idea that “tap is both a vibrant music form and a dance form that still has room for innovation.” Lussac has wildly imaginative influences, claiming inspiration from surrealist filmmaker-choreographer Philippe Decouflé, as well as Bob Fosse and Cirque du Soleil. Oh, and if you’d like to mingle with the dancers from both companies in a penthouse overlooking Lake Michigan, CTT will host its annual benefit, Your Liaison with Dance, Friday 21 at the Eugenie Terrace’s 44th-floor Club Room. Check out www.chicagotaptheatre.com or call 773-655-1175 for details.—Liana C. Percoco
Liaisons Deux is at the Harold Washington Library Auditorium from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23.