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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
February 11, 2016

Inside Untapped!

It's summertime in Australia right now, but the dancers and musicians of Untapped! have braved the chilly New York winter to bring their raucous rhythms to the New Victory stage. With a beatboxer, live music and five tap dancers, they have a lot of fun onstage—here's a sneak peek!


The show's director, Andrew Fee, performed on our stage when Untapped! came to the New Vic in 2011. This year, Andrew's co-choreographer, Jack Chambers, taps onstage as dance captain (in gold tap shoes, no less). Winner of season one of Australia's So You Think You Can Dance, Jack is something of a celebrity back home, and it's easy to see why. Now that he and his fellow dancers have settled in, we checked in with him to find out a little more about him, his role as co-choreographer and the show.

How did you become involved in Untapped!?
My involvement began way back in 2006, which is the year Untapped! was first created (it was titled something else at that time). I co-created the show with Andrew Fee and also performed in the original cast of five male tappers.

You and Andrew are co-choreographers. In what ways do you collaborate? 
We bounce ideas off of each other first and start a dialogue about what it is we want to achieve. The next step is sitting down with our music team and creating tracks for the show. Then we allocate sections for each other to choreograph, and some sections we do together.

What's your favorite part of developing a new number? 
My favorite part of developing a new number is the musical creation. I am a very musical person, so I am all about musicality, and making sure there are enough accents and intricacies to play with choreographically.
Untapped! ensemble
Jack Chambers is joined onstage by the Untapped! ensemble during their "Tribal Beats" number. From left to right: Sally Hare, Ginner Whitcombe, Jack Chambers, Kieran Heilbronn, Brianna Taylor.


What makes the Untapped! ensemble special?
The special thing about our ensemble is that we all have very different performance styles. We all blend really well together onstage, but remain individual in the way that we dance and perform. It's important to have diversity and light and shade through the show, not just in the choreography but within the cast and performances. 

What about Untapped! are you most proud of?
There are many reasons to be proud of this show, but one reason in particular, for me, is that the show has managed to be performed all over the world since 2006. It's truly satisfying to see audiences still loving this production. I am also proud of how the show has evolved over those years, with the changes of cast and the changes of choreography. 

What's been your favorite thing about performing at The New Victory?
Firstly, its a beautiful theater, with lovely staff and crew! And secondly, the audiences have been just wonderful. The kids and families that have come to see the show have truly made this experience memorable. 

What's your favorite place to go or thing to do in New York?
Central Park is my favorite spot in NYC. It's a wonderful place to get lost and take a break from the hustle and bustle of this spectacularly big, busy city! 

Why do you dance?
To put it simply, because I LOVE IT! I have done it my whole life. It's what comes naturally to me, and it makes me happy! 

Why should I see Untapped!?
Untapped! is a must-see because of its exciting, funny, rhythmical energy flown in all the way from Australia. We all have an absolute blast on stage, and it happens to be quite contagious!
 
 
  Untapped! is playing at the New Vic through February 21st. We hope to see you there! And if you happen to see Jack or any of his fellow dancers before the show, be sure to wish them "big chookas"—Aussie slang for "break a leg."
Posted by Zack Ramadan
Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk and its bevy of bicycles have rolled onto our stage! We checked in with Creative Director Chris Lashua to find out a little bit about how the show was developed. If you haven't seen Pedal Punk yet, take a look at this sneak peak of all the spinning things you'll see onstage, including the enormous Gantry—a 20-foot-high pedal-driven apparatus that frames the show's spectacular performances:
 

Like so many great ideas, every Cirque Mechanics production begins on the back of a napkin. Lashua starts by sketching an elaborate machine—a boiler-trolley, a trampoline-cart, a pedal-driven gantry—and a new show is born.

What exactly do you draw on the backs of napkins?

Yes, this really does happen, although we also draw on backs of receipts and business cards, too! Since inspiration can strike at any time, it really is important to capture ideas and concepts right away. I actually have several Southwest Airlines napkins with marker sketches of the first Gantry and our Trike Rover!

What was the inspiration for Pedal Punk?

We built the Gantry for an outdoor festival and knew right away we wanted to base our new show around it. We have always focused on showing off the relationships between our mechanical devices and the acrobats, and this device is our most ambitious apparatus so far.

What's your favorite part of developing a new show?

Oh, that's a tough one! Creation is the best. Sharing those napkin drawings with my design partner, Sean Riley, and brainstorming which elements to build is great. I also enjoy the fabrication. Prepping the materials at the fabrication shop, cutting and painting; and then introducing a new machine to an artist and watching them discover it and use it—that's fantastic.

The Cirque Mechanics ensemble strikes a pose with the Trike Rover. Chris Lashua just left of center, inbetween the spokes! Photo: Alban Rombaux


What makes the Cirque Mechanics ensemble special?

Our creative team is what makes it all work. This is our fourth production together and we have a range of opinions and approaches. My job is to distill the sometimes opposing views and find the right balance of ideas for the show. Having people on the team who approach the process differently is very important. We get much better results by having a team of individuals that are talented and who respect the other contributors' opinions.

What are your favorite things about performing at The New Victory?

Wow! We love coming here. It really is like coming home, from the moment our truck arrives and our team greets the New Victory crew in the loading dock. We first met many of those crew members when we came here with Birdhouse Factory in 2008. And, of course, being a block from Times Square is about as good as it gets.

All of that is great, but when the house lights dim and the show starts—that is when we really “experience” The New Victory. It's the amazing mix of giggles from young audience members with appreciative nods and cheers from adults, the standing ovations from audiences of children and their grandparents, the seasoned theatergoers alongside families who might be experiencing theater for the first time—all those things are what really make The New Victory our favorite place to perform.

What about Pedal Punk are you most proud of?

I started doing tricks on a BMX bicycle when I was twelve years old, and I haven’t stopped. Bicycles have always been a huge part of my life, so to combine that love with my passion for circus and machines is extremely rewarding.

Why should I see Pedal Punk?

If you love circus or like watching amazing feats of daring; if you are a builder, a maker, a gadget guru; or if you just like to laugh, we think this Pedal Punk is for you! We are having a blast and hope to meet you after the show!
 
Pedal Punk Icon    Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk is at The New Victory through January 3. Wacky circus contraptions, acrobats, dance, comedy—it's unlike anything you've ever seen. Be sure to come early to practice your plate-balancing tricks and take some steampunky photos for sharing, #PedalPunk.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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