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Tapestry Dance Company is Reviving an Old Austin Favorite & Celebrating 30 Years

Posted on October 15, 2019 by LONG CENTER STAFF

Tapestry Dance Company opens their 19-20 season with a revival—because who doesn’t love a revival? Austintatious, Too celebrates Austin in the way that only Tapestry can. With tap. We checked in with Acia Gray for the scoop on this piece, and she shared a little bit of Austin Chronicle history with us.

I can’t believe it has been 18 years since the premiere of Austintatious at the iconic Paramount Theatre. I also can’t believe Tapestry Dance Company is celebrating its 30th Anniversary! Wow… how time flies.

How much has changed and how much has stayed the same with both the company and our city.

This encore performance of Austintatious will perhaps surprise our audiences that have witnessed our last 10 years or so. Many don’t realize that the company was founded by Deirdre Strand and myself as a multi-dance form company weaving the common bonds of dance, rhythm and life back in 1989. Seeing the titles of the works and the celebration of Austin music will also take many (who have lived here long enough) to a cherished time.

I thought it would be fun to share the original production’s Austin Chronicle review. I was, and still am very proud of the artists who brought the production to life in 2002—Jason Janas, Tasha Lawson, Morgan Hulen, Andrea Comolla (Williams), Brenna Kuhn, and Poet Powell.

In those days, I was actually in most of the ensemble numbers. Now I get to enjoy from a difference perspective and even a different role (originally played by Andrea in the show’s finale). One that is ironic and appropriate in our anniversary season and longevity.

Enjoy! —Acia Gray

Molly Beth Brenneri

Austintatious: Texas Talent on Tap
Paramount Theatre/ Oct 22nd 2002

When I’m absorbed in a superb dance performance, my primary response is often physical: My legs tighten under me and twitch violently in the seat. These involuntary movements can be embarrassing if I’m sitting in a rickety row of theatre seats with strangers next to me. But if it’s a moving dance event, I don’t care. Friday night I found myself in one of the lovely old chairs at the Paramount Theatre as the house lights dimmed for Tapestry Dance Company’s new paean to our fair city, Austintatious. By the end of the evening, my legs were fatigued from tension, and the stranger who had been sitting next to me had relocated — I can only guess because my legs were repeatedly jerking the entire row of seats.

The show’s first half featured a tour of Austin’s carousing spots, starting early in the evening “On the Banks of Auditorium Shores” and winding up at “2:00 AM, Somewhere on Sixth Street.” These superbly performed and choreographed pieces succeeded in capturing the spirit of some of Austin’s premier haunts. Take “One Too Many at the Broken Spoke,” a drunken riff of a Texas two-step set to the Derailers tune “Country-a-Go-Go.” It featured casual, wobbly-legged, and, well, wasted-looking choreography (by company members Tasha Lawson and Poet Powell, with Acia Gray) that belied the control and technique required of the dancers (Lawson and Powell). “Last Call,” with music by Guy Forsyth, was a full-company blowout of frenetic, synchronized tap rhythms encapsulating the blind flurry of those minutes before the bar closes. Perhaps the most soulful piece in this segment, though, was “Crashin’ the Party,” a soft-shoe tap anthem set to the Asylum Street Spankers’ jazzy, upbeat “Cakewalk.” It spotlighted the formidable Acia Gray, Tapestry’s co-founder and artistic director, whose presence stunned like a stiff right hook from the moment she strutted onstage.

The real knock-’em-dead numbers in Austintatious were the tap pieces Gray choreographed, although many of the modern segments were lovely as well. One especially hypnotic piece in the second half was “In the Back of the Chronicle,” a haunting duet in which a third person slowly stalked between a dueling, courting couple. The regular appearance of this “other” created a delicious tension. Overall, the show’s second half lost some of the urgency of the first, perhaps due to the mellower musical selections (mostly cool jazz and smooth grooves from Bob Schneider, the Gypsies, and others) and a less cohesive theme. But throughout the evening, this company’s innovative spirit and amalgamation of serious talent was clear. Each dancer’s unique charisma bubbled to the surface, not buried by form and technique. Perhaps of special note was company member Jason Janas, whose intensely athletic, ambitious moves (tapping on tiptoes, using the sides of his feet) tended to boggle the mind. Austintatious gave me a new respect both for tap dancing and for the Tapestry Dance Company; we’re lucky this sterling organization calls Austin home.