Dancer Hillary-Marie — who specializes in one of America’s greatest art forms, tap dance — will be taking the stage for Westobou at Augusta University’s Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre with American jazz trombonist and legend Wycliffe Gordon.
“It’s my understanding that this will be the first time tap has been featured at the festival,” said Kristi Jilson, the executive director of Westobou. “That’s exciting because, for us, the dance component has typically been contemporary dance or ballet. This is a jazz tap performance with Wycliffe Gordon. They are going to do some call and repeat things on stage, so they will be playing off of each other.”
Hillary-Marie is known as one of the most accomplished tap dance artists and producers in the country. She is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed soloist and founder of the world-class Jersey Tap Fest in New Jersey.
“As a young artist in training, I was determined to become a jazz dancer and a drummer. So it’s only natural that I would combine vernacular movement and rhythm to become a tap dancer,” Hillary-Marie said in a press release. “Music and dance are the universal languages of the world, and being able to participate in both simultaneously as a percussive dancer is powerful. By combining tap dance choreography and improvisation with live music collaboration, I strive to be a unique storyteller.”
For that reason, Hillary-Marie is looking forward to her performance on stage with an outstanding musician such as Wycliffe Gordon, she said.
“I truly feel that music and dance can connect with people in a way that our words can’t and when people see my work, I want an energy transference to occur,” she said. “I want people to lose themselves, find resolve for their current frustrations, find the drive to follow their aspirations, find the joy they’re searching for and overall just find the missing component that they’re seeking in their day to day lives.”
And this is not your classic tap performance, Hillary-Marie playfully warned audiences.
“My current work challenges the notion that tap dance is a dying, underground, indigestible art form,” she said. “I’ve thrown aside the top hat, tuxedo and cane of vaudeville to bring to life my definition of the modern day tap dancer because I believe that rhythm is a universal language and tribal instinct that all of us understand.”
She describes it as embarking on a “musical dance odyssey.”
“I choose to approach tap dance as both a musical instrument and visual performance art to culminate in the ultimate form of storytelling,” Hillary-Marie stated. “The results so far have been beautiful.”
Hillary-Marie’s Sole Music Collective featuring special guest Wycliffe Gordon
AU’s Maxwell Theatre
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11
$25, advance; $30, day of show