Not far from the halls where Lincoln Center Festival conducts its formal entertainments, a free-swinging Out of Doors festival takes over. In the Plaza and nearby Damrosch Park Bandshell, more than 100 free dance, music and other events, many of them for children, are taking place during the month. There is an eclectic array of talent, from well-known companies such as Trisha Brown and Paul Taylor to little-knowns such as Drumsong African Ballet Theatre. People sit out on folding chairs or wander around the perimeters to watch performers on the raised open stage. The bandshell has more sophisticated technical capabilities to support evening shows.
Typical of the relaxed, late-afternoon, “just dropped by” atmosphere, the French tap dancer Roxane Butterfly brought her small group of dancers and jazz musicians to the Plaza. Influenced by her travels abroad, this papillon of a dancer exhibited her fluttery air-brushing tap style: dubbed “Butterfly” by her mentor, tap great Jimmy Slyde, she shares his way of concealing technique under an easygoing style.
She appeared at the Plaza with Claudio Rahardjanoto and Alexandria Bradley. The trio were basic in their happy opening hoofing, then broke out in solos that emphasised their individuality. Interweaving through the show, graceful flamenco dancer Sol, in a flaming red sheath, demonstrated the similarities and differences between flamenco and tap. Costumed like chic gypsies – flared pants and tasselled boleros – the three tapped their way through Morocco, Algeria and Turkey, throwing in a bit of New York basic, demonstrating each country’s dance imprint. To one side, the musicians – Graham Haynes, cornetist, flameco guitarist Arturo Martinez, Tony de Vivo, percussion, and Damon Banks, bass – gave strong support. Unlike some of the straining, stamping hoofers who appear immersed in themselves, Butterfly’s tapping has an open, laid-back quality. This and the way she likes to pause and address an audience on her international aspirations for tap makes the show immediately accessible. The audience licked their ice-creams, slurped their soft drinks and tapped appreciatively with their feet.