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Oklahoma City University’s Home for the Holidays features tap dancing standouts

Last Thursday night 150 members of the American Spirit Company, directed by Jo Rowan, wowed in OCU’s Home for the Holidays, with its tap numbers following Radio City Music Hall and Broadway, New York, styles of dance.

The tap numbers and chorus line dances were technically well done and well choreographed.

Evening standouts included “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” choreographed by Paige Porter to music by Leon Jessel, arranged by Gould, and “March of the Toy Soldiers,” choreographed by Diana Brooks to music after Victor Herbert’s March of the Toys from Babes in Toyland.

In the “Parade” about twenty women tap dancers danced straight legged in wooden toy uniforms, forming and rotating two separate lines, and finally falling in a line sitting down straight legged on the stage. Their precision tapping was quite good.

In “March” men wooden soldiers took the floor in challenge tap dances, speaking well for the tap dancing pedagogy at OCU.

Also a standout was the tap dancing piece “Here Comes Santa Claus/Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” choreographed by Kelli Stevens and Jo Rowan to music by Autry, Halderman, Gillespie and Coots.

Starting out with dancers in short white fur-trimmed skirts with matching capes and hats, the dance started with Broadway style jazz, and changed into a fast tap dancing piece as they were replaced with young women dressed in red costumes.

“The Christmas Shoppers Can-Can,” choreographed by Tiffany van der Merwe to music by Straight No Chaser showed the dancers’ awesome leg lifts held over their heads, and other steps of the can-can to manic Christmas carols, that included an orthodox Jew accepted into and accepting part in the holidays.

Dancers in the lively jitterbug “Run, Rudolph, Run” fifties piece choreographed by Alana Martin to music by Marks and Brodie, wore poodle skirts and ponytails.

Tom Paxton, who won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year, wrote the music and lyrics used in the touching story dance “The Marvelous Toy,” choreographed by Kay Sandel. “

Also well done was “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” choreographed by Brian Marcum to music by Loesser.

The costuming department, led by Melanie Shelley, handled fabrics well, as did the performing students.

The one false step was the choice of the arrangement for the well-performed and choreographed “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” choreographed by Tiffany van der Merwe.  With pop jazz added to the “Traditional” gospel song, the music and, in this case, the dance lacked emotional impact.

This year’s performances were dedicated to the memory of Katie Lunn, an OCU dance alumna who was tragically killed earlier this year.

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