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Trouble the Water

Details

Categories: Dance, Interdisciplinary, Music

Dates: September 9, 2022

Run Time: 75 mins

Venue: Sound Space Performing Arts

Overview

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble presents Trouble the Water, a new tap dance, movement, music, vocussion and spoken word performance diving into the social, political, and personal implications of the two spirituals, Deep River and Wade in the Water. Throughout the piece, the audience will learn the stories of three people traveling towards safety and a place of revolutionary rest. All in attendance will also be invited to join in the singing of original jazz “psalms,” written to carry us all on the journey.

The piece uses live music, tap, vocals, original text and and contemporary dance ato tell three stories of people escaping harrowing locations, (home abuse, war, a neighborhood overtaken by gun violence), through an imaginary water source. Through carefully chosen jazz interpretations of live music by Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington, Amos Lee and Makaya McCraven, each character, and the audience as well, is invited to imagine a communal place of calm and safety. The PJTE is an intentionally small company focused on innovating the field of jazz tap dance and creating new music that brings together several avenues of rhythm, body and foot percussion. The dancers are on the same playing field as the musicians and improvisation, a linchpin of the jazz tradition, is a key part of the company work and performance. The Philadelphia Jazz Project commissioned the company to create Trouble the Water after viewing their live work “The Soapbox,” a deeply personal and rooted interpretation of Wade in the Water. Since 2020, the partnership of Pamela Hetherington and Bethlehem Roberson has proven extremely successful, as new and original works have been invited to ArtYard and Arts on Site and the company is recently recognized by New Music USA as one of a few selected companies from across the United States receiving the 2022-2023 organizational development grant. Support also provided by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble advances the scope of American tap dance and jazz music traditions through current choreography, modern compositions, progressive performances and accessible environments and contexts for the work. Utilizing the synergistic forms of tap dance and jazz music, the company reflects a shared American history and our collective, visionary future. We honor our shared legacy of jazz by creating works that celebrate the sound of Philadelphia. The PJTE has been presented by Arts on Site, ArtYard, Symphony Space, Dixon Place, The Philadelphia Jazz Project, the Barnes Foundation, Creative Philadelphia and Jazz Bridge.

Credits

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble advances the scope of American tap dance and jazz music traditions through current choreography, modern compositions, progressive performances and accessible environments and contexts for the work. Artistic Director, Pamela Hetherington, intentionally focuses her choreography and arranging work on the legacy of the jazz legends that came out of this city. Some of the most accomplished and swingin’ musicians working on the scene today are a core part of the ensemble, including Tim Brey on piano, Madison Rast on bass, Anwar Marshall on drums, Kathryn Schweingruber as a contemporary dancer and Bethlehem Roberson on tap shoes, vocals, and tarima.

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