(L-R) Natasha Window, Siobhan Parker, Ashely Power, Sally Hare and Lyndal Wennekes  (Photo by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media)


By Ron Fassler


The annual Rave Theater Festival is underway on the Lower East Side of Manhattan this August with theatre, dance and music to entertain (as the circus once said) “children of all ages!” Last evening, I was treated to ten tapping feet courtesy of the all-female Girls on Tap. These five Australian women, led by its creator and choreographer Sally Dashwood, took to the empty stage of the Teatro Latea on Suffolk Street (off Rivington) with genuine aplomb. Located at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in the heart of one of the NYC’s most prominent havens, where once the swelling ranks of turn of the century immigrant New Yorkers lived, it felt appropriate that this quintet be getting their shot here to fulfill their dreams of appearing on a New York stage. Their million-watt smiles and enthusiastic energy could have easily lit up the biggest theatre on Broadway.

Still, in this fifty-seat space (or thereabouts), these women were fired up to tell their stories in song and dance (even pantomime), and over the course of exactly one hour’s time the audience quickly engaged with the charming and often incredulous tapping that was put forth. It was clear that these twenty to early thirty-somethings have all been perfecting the fine art of tapping since childhood. In addition to Ms. Dashwood, they are Siobhan Parker, Elizabeth Evans, Ashley Power and Ellyn Gwillam. Working expertly as a team, it would be impossible to single out one for any extra-special prowess over the others. Their different body types strangely added to the harmonious look of the show, and although one dancer got to sport a very sexy dress (a red one, in the fine tradition of leading ladies in musicals from Dolly to Cassie), her standing out had mainly to do with the striking color of her outfit. The whole company are very talented.



Tim Dashwood directed (assumedly Ms. Dashwood’s husband), and the sleek and stripped-down-to-the-essentials no-nonsense staging was a plus. Although when as a group they proclaimed to be all about “female power” at the top of the show, might have been helped a bit if some of the songs didn’t rely upon the “I need a man” lyrics that cropped up from time to time. It reminded me of the graphic novelist Alison Bechdel’s “Bechdel Test,” the rules to which are: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. Might be best to think that one through more in order to strengthen that statement and give the show some added heft.


Photos by Christopher Pearce/Fairfax Media


The Rave Festival is playing now through August 25th and the full program can be viewed by visiting www.ravetheaterfestival.com.