Monday 23 is a big day for tap dancers: On that date, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s 17th annual Rhythm World summer festival of tap and percussive dance starts hoofing it through Chicago. Dancers from around the globe assemble for two weeks of workshops and performances.
As CHRP has grown from a weeklong summer event into a year-round presenting organization dedicated to the particularly American art form, founder Lane Alexander has chosen to hand over some of his organizational duties to colleagues. This summer, Rhythm World will take place under the artistic direction of Derick K. Grant (the mastermind behind the Imagine Tap! performance extravaganza that took place at the Harris Theater last July) and Dianne “Lady Di” Walker (considered a matriarch within the international tap community).
The two make a formidable team. “Dianne has been at every single festival in CHRP’s history,” Alexander says. “She represents the knowledge, continuity and integrity that we want Rhythm World to maintain.” Of Grant, Alexander says, “He has an inclusive idea of what tap is and who can do it. Our field has a racial divide just like in America everywhere. [Grant] doesn’t care about the genre of tap, but about quality of execution. He represents our value to always be inclusive and to build community through the art form [of tapdance].”
Because Walker and Grant are based on the East Coast (Boston and New York, respectively), Lane feels they will bring fresh ideas and new connections to the Chicago community. “They know a lot of people I don’t,” he says.
Grant and Walker will participate in public performances next week, but those who study tap may wish to take note that both artists will teach daily classes this week at the Chicago Cultural Center, along with master dancer and teacher, Sam Weber.—Asimina Chremos
For more information about Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Rhythm World, visit chicagotap.org or call 773-281-1825.