As Rhythmatic’s performance came to an end, the entire audience rose to its feet with applause.
It’s rather a cliché that Bermuda audiences tend to give standing ovations but this one was well-deserved.
United Dance Productions’ Dance Company set the tone in the Earl Cameron Theatre with A Tribute to Aaliyah.
Choreographed by Jarrod Beverley and inspired by African dance, it was well executed, unified throughout and emotionally powerful.
The American tap dance company Rhythmatic formed only last year.
Nick Young, the founder and artistic director, was surprised to get a call inviting him to participate in the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts.
He took the stage on Monday night, asking if anyone in the packed auditorium knew anything about tap; a thunderous affirmative showed that Bermuda’s experience is deep, and rooted in the community.
Fortunately for us all, we were present as Rhythmatic premiered On Top of the World, the show created especially for their performance here.
In the first half of the concert we were treated to Girl Talk.
Four female performers, all full of subtle rivalry and attitude, gave an interpretation of Count Basie’s One O’Clock Jump.
The numbers, with no musical accompaniment, and Soul Man, introduced a remarkable member of the company — 14-year-old Luke Spring.
His tap technique evokes sounds as far-reaching as that of the Indian tabla drum as well as the whole range of percussion instruments.
His clarity of tone, speed, and subtle sense of rhythm captivated the audience, who kept breaking into spontaneous applause.
The crown jewel of the evening was a complete tap ballet, On Top of the World.
A shifting series of tableaux involving all the company dancers, it started with Young alone in a white suit, struggling with what seemed like vertigo, on a stage that had become a virtual mountain slope.
Singly, and in groups, the company — two dressed in black, then changing into white — formed ever-shifting groupings to original scores of keyboard and organ, sometimes reminiscent of rock videos.
The company executed everything in perfect synchronicity; the audience’s involvement in this new art form was wholly immersive and committed. We all rose as one to roar our enthusiasm.
The board and management of the Bermuda Festival must be congratulated for bringing us this brilliant and unique performance.