Rhythmic Circus, an explosive percussive-dance sensation, recently surfaced and is packing the aisles at venues across the country, including two performances at Talladega’s Historic Ritz Theatre Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
“Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” the group’s original show, offers an array of musical genres, energized by an enthralling seven-man band, four tap dancers, vocalists and even a beatboxer. The show has been on tour for two years, performing in more than 30 states and abroad.
Rhythmic Circus co-founder Nick Bowman was introduced to the tapping realm when he was 10. At the time, he and his friends “all thought it was girly,” Bowman said recently in a phone interview. “But my cousin double-dared me to take a class and bet me $50 that I wouldn’t do it.”
That dare would wind up turning Bowman into one of the most sought-after tap choreographers in the country.
“I never saw the $50,” he said, “but I ended up falling in love with dancing.”
Bowman lives in Minneapolis where he is the lead tap instructor and choreographer for the national award-winning studio Northern Force Dance Company, and he directs the Sole City Youth Tap Ensemble, which he founded in 2005.
Bowman and his Circus co-founder Ricci Milan first crossed paths on the Twin Cities dance competition scene when the two were teenagers. By the age of 16, their friendly rivalry had evolved into a genuine friendship, Bowman said. Joining forces, the new best friends choreographed and performed dances for anyone who would watch, picking up two other former competitors along the way.
In 1998, the four tappers stumbled upon the core musicians of Rhythmic Circus in the stage wings at the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Competition.
The shared vision and chemistry between the two groups of performers was undeniable, Bowman said. Morphing into one act, they began working on their first project that fall, and have been together ever since.
“It’s a good thing everyone in our group has been friends for so many years, considering how much time we spend together on the road,” Bowman said.
That friendship also helps out during the production. According to Bowman, the group recently purchased a specially made dance floor designed to enhance and magnify the sound of their tap shoes. The floor is embedded with small microphones so each dancer’s individual steps can be heard and accounted for.
While that’s great for the four tap dancers, the band members and noise technicians say all that amplified tapping in the background makes it hard for them to stay on tempo. But the Rhythmic Circus family is a team, and that includes their signature sound.
“We sort of try to make the tapping another member of the band,” Bowman explained.
He thinks the audience’s favorite part of the Talladega show will be the energy. “Not just the energy it takes for the performance,” he said, “but also the energy we have between each other on stage. Most of our friendships go back at least 10 years. There’s sort of a camaraderie between us on stage.”
When: Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 at 7 p.m.
Where: Historic Ritz Theatre, 115 Court Square N., Talladega
Cost: $23, group discounts available
Contact: Call 256-315-0000 or visit www.talladegaritz.com