Choreographer, dancer, director: Vincent Pausanias has lent his varied skill set to everything from the Paris cabaret to stadium shows and corporate spectaculars.
When the time came to create his own show, Vincent grabbed the opportunity to collaborate alongside artists from outside his comfort zone. The result was Tap Factory, a riot of high-energy dance, explosive rhythms and unbelievable thrills.
“Tap Factory sounds like a dance show,” Vincent says, “but it’s so much more than that.” As well as tap dance, the eight-strong cast are expected to perform comedy, poetry, acrobatics, percussion, and more besides. “That’s what I was looking for: people who excel in their own field, but who will be excellent at everything else as well.”
As the name suggests, Tap Factory tells the story of a day in the life of a factory, with oil drums, ladders and lead pipes all playing their parts. For Vincent that setting was key: “Throughout my career, I’ve had the chance to work with artists from so many different fields. So it was really natural for me to include all of that in the show, and it turned out that the factory floor would be the perfect place for a fusion of all those disciplines, where they could come together and make something special.”
And despite Vincent’s background in dance, the idea for the show came from a somewhat surprising source: “I’d always planned to choreograph a tap show, but my big inspiration in creating this turned out to be Charlie Chaplin.
“I really wanted to do something that involved bringing disciplines like tap into the modern world – but Chaplin did it first. He was a genius, he was just so good at everything.”
Watching the show, Chaplin’s influence is clear. Silent slapstick, including one particularly impressive solo dance with a mop, forms the backbone of the show. “For me,” Vincent explains, “the biggest thing is the comedy. My goal was for people to come to this show and to leave with a smile.”
And that cheerful outlook means that the show appeals to a wide range of people: “Tap Factory is a family show; it’s fit for anyone aged from 5 years old to 95. We got so many kinds of people watching, ranging from kids who come with their dance schools, to hen parties, because of course, we’ve got eight nice-looking guys dancing up on stage – so who can blame them? We don’t take it too seriously though, and it’s always good fun.”
As for Vincent, who did he watch as a dance-loving child? “Fred Astaire,” he answers immediately. “He’s been an inspiration to everyone. Baryshnikov said ‘we dance; he’s doing something else’. And beyond that, I’m so inspired by the people that I work with. This is a new kind of tap show, and it gave me the opportunity to work with new kinds of acrobats, new kinds of circus artists – all people who are really ready for anything, and that can’t help but rub off.”
And if Tap Factory can inspire that same feeling in the audience, that’s even better: “Nothing can make us happier than seeing kids leave the show saying ‘oh, I want to do tap, I want to do rhythm, I want to do music.’
“And I just love it when a video shows up on Facebook afterwards, and you see some kid in a kitchen, beating out a rhythm on some plates. It’s great that show-business can still inspire.”
You can see the show when Tap Factory is performed here on 26 & 27 October. And who knows – you might just find yourself trying out a few moves in the kitchen afterwards! Buy tickets now at Norwich Theatre Royal.