Artis Mooney packs plenty of power into her complexly layered footwork. A tap dancer with a sensitive ear for rich, multicultural rhythms, she has a particular knack for rhythm tap that makes her a pleasure to watch.
Mooney curated Saturday's evening of percussion, rhythm tap and modern dance at the storefront theater of Joe's Movement Emporium in Mount Ranier. The place was packed, the windows steamy, as fans of DCArtistry Tap and Drum cozied up on the floor and hugged the walls once the seats were filled.
"Reflections on Rhythm" contained plenty of rough patches, but when Mooney or her tap prodigies took to the living-room-size stage, all was forgiven. "I Love You Buster," a tribute to the great Buster Brown, fleetingly riffed on the Baltimore-born tapper's legacy. Mooney's light and airy taps, sophisticated foot drags and slides, and scintillating syncopation honored Brown, who died in May. The improvisatory and collaborative trio "Blue Funk," for dancers Mooney, Aysha Upchurch and Donne Lewis, with bassist Colin Delzell and percussionist Henry Canas, interspersed unison phrases with jazzy riffs.
"Mozambique" and "Pointcounterpoint" demonstrated that the nonchalant cool of youth -- the performers are as young as 12 -- holds its irresistible attraction. Lanky Trent Covington maintains a command of the stage that belies his concentration on his intricately unfurled beats. Flamenco dancer Sara Candela performed a searing rendition of Federico Garcia Lorca's poem "La Luna," her piercing heel stomps tearing through the monologue.
Unfortunately, modern dancer Debra Floyd's contribution amounted to artistic plagiarism. Her "Roc-a-My-Soul" and "Wade Suite" are unabashed rip-offs of Alvin Ailey's 1960 dance classic "Revelations." While many companies perform Aileyesque works that stylize black vernacular and church-centered dancing, Floyd has stolen with impunity Ailey's actual movements and gestures -- double torso contractions, fan-flicking arm gestures, wide reaches and syncopated skips -- and set them to a medley of the same gospel songs that define the late choreographer's popular masterpiece.