Behind the scenes with DramaTech Tap Troupe

Photo courtesy of DT3

The world of dance, once constrained by specific moves, music and costumes, has been revolutionized by younger generations incorporating pop culture and impromptu playfulness into their routines. 

At Tech, this revolutionized form of dance includes new dance groups pushing the boundaries of their traditional dance form. The DramaTech Tap Troupe (DT3)  serves as one of these outlets for revolutionized dance. 

Founded in 2016, DT3 has around a dozen members who regularly rehearse choreographed routines and work to improve their dance skills. The troupe emphasizes its atmosphere as a space where any skill level can find opportunities for growth.

No previous experience with dance is required for troupe membership. In fact, tap dance varies greatly from other types
of dance. 

“It’s definitely more of a learning troupe than a ‘We’re really good at tap, if you’re not then get out,’” said troupe leader and third-year CS Davis Williams.  

Williams, as well as several other troupe members, became involved with DT3 through mutual friends. DT3 secretary and third-year MSE Austin Hughes discovered the group through Williams and is now participating in his second year as a troupe tap dancer. 

“I just went and tried and I was like ‘Oh this is fun’ and so I stuck with it,” said Hughes. 

Hughes explained how the supportive and welcoming environment has impacted his involvement. 

“I think that’s kind of why we all stuck around,” said Hughes. “It felt like a place where like, you don’t have to be great, you don’t have to be some stellar dancer.” 

Troupe leader Williams explained the techniques that the new dancers pick up as they start their career in tap dancing, noting the differences between this type of dance when compared to others. 

“I don’t really do a lot of dance outside of tap dancing, but I’d say tap dancing is a lot more about getting a consistent sound than other dances,” said Williams. 

“Other dances don’t really make sound that much and for  tap dancing, it’s very important that the sounds are in sync.”

At a typical rehearsal, DT3 will break their activities into separate portions once they have properly warmed up.  

“The way a typical class will go is that we’ll all get there, and we will warm up together to a song and just like loosening up the ankles and feet to do the taps later.

“And then whoever is teaching for the day … will teach first the techniques that will be in the combo, if there’s anything specific and stuff that’s not heavily practiced, and then afterwards, we’ll do the combo, which is just a song that they choose to make a dance to,” said Hughes. 

 The tap dancers of DT3 further pride themselves for the creativity they strive to bring to each performance.

These performances are held throughout the year, whether as a part of DramaTech’sLet’s Try This! (LTT) stand-alones or as an open house. Musical choices for the routines have ranged everything from Lizzo and Cardi B to Broadway numbers.  Dancers reflected on some of their more memorable performances and musical scores. 

“Last year we did a fun one … the music was from a Broadway musical from like the 60s,” said Williams, “but we did the number Scooby-Doo at the end because it sounded vaguely Scooby-Doo-ish.

“So we had like five people were the Scooby-Doo people and a lot of us were monsters so we just got to creep round the back tapping.”

The troupe’s performance of Moana also stuck out to its members. 

“We kind of like pantomimed through what was actually happening in the song [Moana’s “Your Welcome’] but then also everyone came out and did a dance with it as well,” said Hughes. 

Ma Sofia Sosa, third-year ChemE and tap dancer, discussed the highlight of her career not in terms of a single performance, but from what she has gained from the continued act of performing. 

“As with anything that’s artsy or performative, it kind of like desensitizes you to anything that’s potentially nerve-wracking,” said Sosa. “So you do, as time goes on, get more confidence and that kind of confidence bleeds into other aspects of your life.” 

In addition to sharing the excitement of each performance, troupe members also discussed the hardships of budgeting. 

“We have a very small budget, so trying to assemble costumes, that’s why it’s usually that creative because we’re just like ‘What does everyone have,’” said Hughes, who points to the usage of Hawaiian shirts as a frugal solution. 

Looking to the future, Williams wants the troupe mainly to focus on recruiting and teaching new members. 

“We just want to keep it alive, because it’s still a fairly new troupe,” said Williams. “So we want to make sure that it continues to go past us and so the big thing is just making sure we’re constantly teaching new people.”

In fact, new members are welcome to reach out to the troupe with any questions about joining. The troupe is active on social media and welcomes newcomers to their weekly rehearsals which meet on Saturdays in the Peachtree Room of the Student Center.

Ultimately, the troupe stresses their non-stress approach to dance.

“We’re super friendly and supportive of each other,” said Sosa, who encourages everyone to come try tap. 

The final result of the rehearsals is not just the improved skills, but something more tangible as well. 

“In the end we all do it together and we film it and it’s a good time,” said Hughes.

Members of DT3 will be participating in DramaTech’s upcoming performance of Yellow Face, as well as LTT’s After Show. “Yellow Face,” which recounts an Asian-American’s experience with his identity, will be showing from Nov. 8-23. The Theatre also invites members of the community to audition for their Culture Jam on Nov. 11.