Dorrance Dance ETM: Double Down – Sadlers Wells – Review

I was so excited when I read about this show, although I’ve seen the amazing 42nd Street Show at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, I still felt, (and in fact, still feel)  that I don’t get to see enough Tap dance in the theatre.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all dance styles and 42nd Street, like I said, was fantastic, but the style of Tap is traditional MGM, Hollywood movie style Tap.

I want to see how Tap dance is moving forward choreographically and experimentally  and after watching the trailer of Dorrance Dance ETM: Double down on the Sadlers Wells website, I felt that Dorrance Dance was going to be able to deliver.

Take a look at the trailer…

As someone who teaches and choreographs tap dance routines for competitions and shows, I find it hard to find much inspiration for doing something new with tap in the UK scene, as you’ve probably witnessed  from the trailer, Dorrance Dance did put me out of my misery.

Based in New York, USA, Dorrance Dance aims to honour tap dance’s unique history and

not by stripping the form of its tradition, but by pushing it rhythmically, technically, and conceptually.

Dorrance Dance won a Bessie Award for “Blasting open our notions of tap”

The company was founded in 2011 by Michelle Dorrance and the dance company has an amazing reputation and plays to packed venues nationally and internationally.


The opening scenes consisted of musicians with instruments, which included, Cello, Drum kit, Electronic keyboard and shakers with 5 wooden boards placed in varying positions on the wooden stage.

The lighting was dim, not too dim that you can’t see, but enough to create an atmosphere of mystery.

Little microphones were placed downstage, towards the edge, implanted into the stage, facing the dancers feet to pick up the sound of the tap shoes.

In a later scene, metal chains were attached to the wooden tap boards which really allowed for some imaginative rhythms and choreography.


Although it was predominantly a tap dance show, there were many elements of other dance genres including, Breakdance,Hip Hop and contemporary dance.

There was a BGirl in some of the scenes, she performed both solo and as part of the tap ensemble, showing a lovely contrast between the 2 styles, playing them off against each other, but also, at times, mimicking the tap steps in trainers with urban swag.

The opening choreography had an amazing backward tap motif that was repeated and developed and incorporated the wooden boards on the stage, it was fascinating to watch as each dancer managed to get the steps on and off the wooden block, dancing backwards, barely glancing backwards to locate the board positioning – that must have taken some rehearsal! 😮  I was truly astonished at that! 🙂

Alot of the choreography played about with rhythms and the relationships jumped from the dancers competing against one another, dancers playing with rhythm alongside the musicians and also against them, with some really good sound effects coming from the musicians, complementing the tap sounds.

Some of the tap sequences are truly mesmerising to watch, from body slapping & clap and tap motifs, to lovely solos turning into rhythmic duets.

Each dancer had some solo sections, that really showed off their ability and strengths.

One of my favourite sections, was a ‘heel beat’ motif with added hip hop upper body moves, it looked so slick! 🙂

There were some lovely uses of canon and stillness throughout, which kept us, ‘the audience’ on our toes, there were even some humorous sections added in.


This show really exceeded my expectations, I didn’t expect to have so many laughs and jaw dropping moments. I didn’t really appreciate how creative we can be with the tap genre, I, for one, have had my eyes opened.

Really love the way each dancer interpreted the unison parts of the choreography in their own unique style, so it feels like you get to know the individual dancer as well as the collective, rather than watching clones.

The use of upper body in tap has, I feel, been greatly utilised in this show, not an easy thing to implement as a dancer or a choreographer, but so much more interesting to watch as an audience member.

Vocals including beatboxing were a lovely mix, but felt it went on just a little too long, I could be biased though, as all I really wanted to see was the dancing 😀

I am so happy to discover Dorrance Dance company, they are now one of my  favourite dance companies, who I shall look out for each time they visit the UK, I recommend that you do too 😉

Find out more about Dorrance Dance – Website

Keep up with them on social media –twitter instagram and vimeo

Thanks for reading!

Chanel 🙂


Chanel Williams

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