Energetic, crowd wowing and awe-inspiring. That’s how many felt after seeing the premiere performance of, By Way of Taps: A J Dilla Tribute, from 2018 Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, Nico Rubio at Thalia Hall in Chicago. The first full-length tap show to take place at the venue.
Rubio put a lot into what was a huge and historic night, and if you weren’t there you missed out on an amazing can’t miss show. Which you should have really been at if you love or appreciate not only J Dilla, but Hip-Hop. As not only DJing was involved, but B-Boying as well. That gives you two of the fundamental elements of Hip-Hop to help create a great Hip-Hop show. Which this definitely was.
From the setup to the transitions and dancing, as well as DJing. You could feel the energy that sparked the room for the nearly hour long performance. With the crowd being very engaged from beginning to end. From clapping along with B-Boy Sesh during his very fresh B-Boy portion of the show midway through. To the crowd putting up their phones and/or lighters. As well as the very, “Ohhing” and “Awing” inspired reactions from some of the intricate steps that not only Rubio and his 333 group drew, but George Patterson and Starinah “Star” Dixon as well. With Patterson’s very stellar steps along with Nico and Star not too far behind, easily drawing most of those reactions.
The multi-generational element showed how the rhythm of tap can catch anyone, any age, and was definitely shown with the dynamic mix of people in the cast, from Zayvion to Martin “Tre” Dumas III. Also evident the multi-generational mix in the crowd as well. That shows Tap Dancing, just like Hip-Hop, doesn’t really have an age limit to fully enjoy it the way it’s meant to be. Two things that are so greatly intertwined with one another to make them both great, but many don’t always realize. The rhythms of tap being just like the rhythms of a beat or instrumental on a Hip-Hop track.
Nico played J Dilla-produced songs and samples he used for such artists as Slum Village, Erykah Budu, Busta Rhymes and Common, during his very remarkable DJ set. Which showed not only the great intertwining of these two art forms, but how much he has improved, to the point that not everyone would realize he’s still only a beginner at DJing. The lighting that emerged from above him after he and the ensemble cast switched from the floor to the actual stage was pretty dope that me and I noticed a lot of others in the crowd really dug. Almost like a rebirth from one portion to the next. Nico and the rest of the full ensemble cast built up to one final epic full circle finale that really got the crowd hype and cheering to end off such a great night on such a high, as well as a positive note.
There’s definitely a very bright future for more of these full on tap performances. That incorporates great DJing, B-Boying and Hip-Hop into these performances too. Something Nico and the rest of the cast proved from the very rousing reaction the crowd gave to end off the night. With one of the only questions being, “Do you tour this around Chicago only first or the whole U.S?” I guess we will have to wait to find out, but from the crowd reaction, as well as some of the people I talked to during and after the show, there’s definitely a good and very bright future for a show like this to expand even more.