Described as “a rhythmic surge of communication through sound”, Old Kent Road’s Oscillate was performed for two days only at Sadler’s Wells’ Lillian Baylis Studio, ahead of its appearance in the London Tap Dance Intensive and its run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.
I was so intrigued to see this as, for the majority of my childhood, tap dancing was my main passion. So, knowing just how hard it is, it was such a joy to watch these highly skilled tappers in this innovative new piece. This was a completely new league of tap than I’ve ever seen before, with so many different styles portrayed in unique ways.
Whilst the whole company were incredible, I could not possibly write this Roundup without mentioning Dre Torres’ performance, in particular. WOAH. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a dancer with so much charisma and stage presence. She was sliding around the stage, whooping; this girl did it ALL. She absolutely commanded the stage and somehow barely looked out of breath even after being probably the most frequently featured dancer in the piece….how?! Seriously impressive.
One of my favourite sections of the piece was a solo of hers which I can only liken to the “angry dance” from Billy Elliot but like, on speed, and even cooler. It was insane. I also particularly enjoyed the segment with 3 couples using chairs which resembled a physical theatre/contemporary piece; which further showcased their diversity as dancers.
I’d also like to applaud the lighting design as this was used so effectively throughout. There was a section where the dancers on stage had standing lights, which they switched on and off, which served not only as an innovative way to drive the attention of the audience to certain pivotal moments, but the sound of the lights clicking on and off added yet another layer of rhythm. The piece also featured some amazing body percussion and even used their voices to create rhythms in an almost tribal style.
But on top of all of this, they then took off their tap shoes, and tapped barefoot. I’m just gonna write that again.
*They took off their tap shoes and literally tapped barefoot*
I cannot tell you how impressive this was. It was such a bold decision and a credit to this company’s fresh approach to the dance form. It made their movements so rooted and raw and was extremely effective.
Hats off to the whole company who produced such a dynamic performance. There was such a great energy in the room and, without trying to sound too soppy, there are few things better than watching people do something they clearly love. Every single dancer had such a sparkle in their eye, as if to say “you don’t know the cool bit that’s coming up next but weeeeeee dooooo!” The setup, consisting of the rest of the company sitting on chairs at the side of the stage while others were performing, also allowed the audience to be able to watch them watch their peers dancing with what appeared to be such pride. This seems to be a company with a clear vision and a greater sense of comradary between them.
There’s something really special about sharing the joy of dance and acknowledging genuine skill and talent, from a group of such effervescent performers. The intricate blending of different styles was so refreshing to see.
If you’re up in Edinburgh this summer for the Fringe, I’d HIGHLY recommend seeing Old Kent Road’s Oscillate for a thrilling and hugely impressive showcase of dance.
To find out more about the company, you can visit their website here.
Olivia Rose 🌹