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By Wendy Perron
A surge of energy went through the crowd the moment Jared took the mike and vamped to the beat of his own voice. What a natural—as a dancer, as a host, as a voice for encouragement to younger dancers.
Wednesday night Jared held a special edition of his monthly Broadway Underground variety show at BB King Blues Club. This time he ran a competition called Run the Night that included tap, hip hop, modern and more. A panel of six industry judges, of which I was one, voted after each piece.
Jared wasn’t planning to dance himself, but he couldn’t help it. His terrific dancing—part Fosse, part Astaire, part Greg Hines—flow out of him every time he paced the floor. He talked about the floor, watched the floor, “warmed up” the floor for the next dancer. He made it seem like the floor itself was radiating energy. (To learn more about the fabulous Jared Grimes, see our cover story on him from 2007.)
The deserving winner, out of the 11 acts, was a pair of guys from Seattle in a number called Tap This. They were Josh Scribner, a very fluent tapper, and his student Vikas Arun, who has an appealingly eccentric personality. But what put them up a notch above the rest was the rhythms. They started of soft, silky and slide-y and worked up to sharper rhythms, with unexpected holds that played with the music.
Another group also took my eye: the Beat Club, from Monmouth Junction, NJ. A rag-tag bunch of B-girls and B-boys, they made great formations in their first number. But in their second one, their true colors came out. They started kind of chaotic and built up to show true individuality—especially the girls.
All the participants were completely committed to their movement and quite skilled. But no one compared to either Grimes himself or his special guests. These included the AmountBoyz in their fantastic break dancing. I would go pretty far to see them again. It also included an impromptu appearance from Bill Irwin, the great dancer/clown/actor—and a fellow judge that night. Jared called him onto the stage, and if I hadn’t heard their conversation beforehand, I would have thought their nifty interaction was carefully choreographed. Bill did a couple scrumptious body doodles, grabbed Jared’s hat, and then finally tossed it back—and Jared caught it with his head.
At the very end, Jared made a big improv circle and invited any game dancer to go solo in the center. I was amazed at how, even the ones who hadn’t particularly shone during the choreographed group pieces, when alone in the center danced up a brief little storm. (Blame it on the floor!) This included two of the Beat Club girls who, separately with total individual style, strutted their Don’t-mess-with-me stuff. One was only 16.
After all the solos, one of the barefoot girls crossed with a hip hop guy, amazing the audience with their on-the-spot chemistry.
And so it went. Everybody walked out bopping and smiling. That floor at BB King’s was generous to all of us!
Jared Grimes at Run the Night, photo courtesy Broadway Underground