In October 2000, I had just gotten off the plane in Paris and decided I needed to take a tap class. With the help of a friendly local and the pages blancs, I discovered there was indeed a level five class that evening at a tap studio in the 11th. Excitedly, I took my first métro and found Swing Tap, a little but famous tap shoe shop and school in Bastille. Victor Cuno, the director, in baggy fat checked pants and a striped top, bounced out the pace on the piano while puffing on cigarettes and in a jet lagged haze I shuffle hop stepped with a full class across around the room in dizzying tempos.
Ten years later, Victor Cuno is still a reference in Paris and internationally and his studio offers eight levels of classes and welcomes guest teachers for intensive workshops such as Lane Alexander (Chicago Human Rhythm Project) and Guillem Alonso (Tap Olé Barcelona). Notably, Ruben Sanchez will be arriving from Spain next week to teach.
The show at the Café de la Dance in Bastille was a mash up of end of year performance, musical concert, jam/impro display and présentation of the top of the range. The theme, if any, was how one can tap with another instrument. We witnessed tap with percussion, tap with drumming, tap with guitar, violin, piano…
Kid star Felix Leclerc wowed the audience with an immaculate rendition of Chopin on piano, drumming, zybraphone swinging and tap attack. Jérémie Champagne got sentimental on the piano for a moment (Pinocchio…) then, to the delight of the full house, dropped the sop and showed us how it should be in his famous back flipping, dynamic, percussive tap improvisation. Swing Tap star teacher Marion Sandner mixed handstands with tap and cabaret in her « SOOO in Love » number (as seen from her guest performance at the Cabaret des Filles de Joie de Juliette Dragon) and, of course, couldn’t let the opportunity pass to introduce some vinyl and plenty of pink costumes into the show… she also appeased her students’ and fans’ appetites with a few impros in solo and group. Florence Mathoux & Lucie Rouits while less fluid in the impro, presented an impeccably tight poly-rhythmic duo- Fers & Magnesium.
Cuno MCed and presented classic number (Gotta Dance from Singing in the Rain) as well as a duo with Philou Nagau and several other numbers- never too serious and always with a fun and light audience rapport. His young son Marius performed solos and duos with technique and charm that impressed the connoisseur audience. Victor Cuno’s best moment was a tap piano number that really did swing.
And keeping much of it live was the participation of accomplished jazz trio from the tap dancing Rafael Meyrier (drums), Jean –Christophe Kotsiras (piano) and Flavio Perrela (double bass).
The full, appreciative house affirmed that there could and should be more tap show of all forms in Paris. And indeed next Thursday there is the ‘Surprise Party’ Tap improvisation show (not to be confused with surprise party collective de cabaret des filles de joie) featuring Ruben Sanchez and the Cuno family. Produced by Hélène Maisonniaux. Reservations email@example.com.