Chicago Human Rhythm Project presents JUBA! MASTERS OF TAP AND PERCUSSIVE DANCE Review –Too much is never enough!

Chicago Human Rhythm Project Presents JUBA! MASTERS OF TAP AND PERCUSSIVE DANCE Review –Too much is never enough!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, Watch for week-long Rhythm World 2020 next July.

How fortunate to experience two nights of the week-long JUBA! celebration of all things related to tap and percussive dance--Tuesday, July 23, and Thursday, July 25, 2019.  Two famous ensembles performed each night, culminating with Stone Soup Rhythms, resident Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) group.  Keeping to traditions of tap dance, the performances featured soloists or small ensembles often sparring for the best performance of the evening.

American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019
American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019

Chicago Human Rhythm Project Spotlights Local Tappers – 333 & Friends

By Way of Taps: A J Dilla Tribute by 333 & Friends was first up with a hip-hop twist.  A J Dilla is, in this writer’s view an innovative musician and producer who excelled at hip-hop, blending it with jazz and creating haunting rhythms that fed the choreography.  333 & Friends is a Chicago group founded and led by Nico Rubio, whom we learn in the program notes are all either actual family or Tap Family who grew up dancing together.  For this reviewer the most jaw-dropping was the dancing of Zayvion Rubio, nephew of Nico.  Though a boy, he performs at the same top level of his adult family with the charisma and charm of a pro.

By Way of Taps: A J Dilla Tribute
333 & Friends
Artistic Director: Nico Rubio
Music: Variety of songs or samples produced or used by J Dilla
Composer: James Dewitt Yancey (aka J Dilla)
DJ’d by: Nico Rubio
Choreography: Nico Rubio with improvisation by the dancers
Dancers: Dani Borak, Donnetta Jackson, George Patterson III, Martin “Tre” Dumas III, Nico Rubio,
Sean Kaminski, Star Dixon, Zayvion Rubio, Time Brickey

American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019

CHR Project Brings a Brush of Broadway to Chicago

CHR Project premiered their new work VIRTUOSO!  Moving seamlessly from one musical inspiration to another—imagine clapping hands, tango, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Queen, and others—CHR led us to new rhythmic inspirations. Experiencing the lively and lush music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons through tap added another dimension to this Baroque music.

CHR Project
Artistic Director: Charles Renato
Choreography: Charles Renato
Costume Design: Alvarenga Design
Dancers: Rebecca Cannaday, Taytum Buford, Eric Decaminada, Vikas Arun, Tamii Sakurai, Charles Renato

American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019
American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019

Co.MMIT Creates an Enveloping Aura of Mysticism

Essentials is based on inspiration from a steel hand pan drum--not a large steel drum played with drumsticks or mallets, but a small steel drum formed of two metal half-shells glued together, tapped to produce differing notes with the hand or a small mallet.

Janas’s Essentials—a world premiere—starts with something of a ceremony,, with black hooded and robed dancers surrounding the hand drum, stage left.  A meditative tap on the drum signifies the beginning of each piece.  Soloists and ensembles disrobe and move to center and right stage to perform and then return to the meditative circle. The opening solo by Janas, wild and happy, and all the performances, solo and ensemble, contrast sharply to the stage left meditation.  It’s not difficult to understand the ensemble’s message that both dance and spiritual thought are life essentials.

Artistic Director: Jason Janas
Original music composed by Jason Janas
Costume design: Bianca Janas
Choreography: Jason Janas
Dancers: Jason Janas, Shawn Kurilko, Michelle May, Jeffrey Dawson, Ryan Vettel, Savanah Dynkowski

American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019
American Rhythm Center JUBA 2019

Stone Soup Rhythms Take Tap in a New Direction

Dani Borak, who had choreographed many Stomping Grounds works and who will be leaving the group had eleven of his pieces performed by the Co.MMIT ensemble.  The eleventh piece was a Borak solo to the complex rhythm of Piazolla’s Tango, attacking the music with counter points and syncopation.

The final three works, Alien/Rytme/Fusion combine modern dance and ballet with tap—something we have seen from Borak before.   There is floor work, with and without tapping, stressing the modern dance agenda.  Even a ghostly modern dance soloist appears, all in white, performing like a Lipizzaner among the black-clad Friesians.   Is this the future of tap dance?  For this reviewer, these three works were breath taking partially because they stood in such contrast with the previous three ensembles and were executed with such precision and emotion.  This was a showcase of how fluid dance moves integrated into hard percussive rhythm expand the vocabulary of the tap art.

Stone Soup Rhythms
Choreography: Dani Borak
Costumes: Daniel Borak & Cast
Dancers: Jessica Tenbusch, KJ Sheldon, Megan Davis, Tristan Bruns, Time Brickey, Davon Suttles,
Matt Pospeshil, Daniel Borak


Performances were hosted at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, an intimate venue with a large tap stage.


JUBA! MASTERS OF TAP AND PERCUSSIVE DANCE is part of Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s annual festival, Rhythm World.  For more information, visit their website.

Photos credit: J. Alice Jackson

Editor’s Note: Read the related story -  Chicago Human Rhythm Project RHYTHM WORLD Preview – Meet LANE ALEXANDER Founder and Director

Ann Boland
Portrait by Paul Sierra

Reviewer Ann Boland is committed to Chicago theater. Involved in the audience since the early 80’s, she’s witnessed firsthand the rise of our theater scene, our exceptional local talent, and the vigor of each new generation.  Ann handles public relations for authors and works on programs to help seniors with neurological movement disorders.  Please visit her website for more information.  


Click here to read more Picture this Post reviews by Ann Boland.

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