Lois V Vierk and Anita Feldman
for 3 tap dancers on Tap Dance Instrument (patented), 1 percussionist, and live electronics
HEXA exists in two versions: the original 1988 dance concert version, and a slightly shorter version which was used in a video produced by Jan Roberts-Breslin in 1990 and subsequently released on CD (audio track only) by Innova Records in 2010 (Innova 233 "25 Years of New York New Music: The NYFA Collection"). The audio recording of this slightly shorter version is notable because tap dance, percussion and electronic processing were recorded and mixed in a sound studio. The sound quality of the CD is excellent unlike, of course, that of video recordings made in concert. Hexa is a tap dance/music work and also stands alone as a music piece.
The original dance concert version has 316 measures and the CD version has 260 measures. Small cuts were made in the original version throughout the piece, to produce the CD version. Scores of both versions are included here. The CD version appears first and the original dance concert version follows.
Hexa is one of six music/tap dance works co-created by tap dance choreographer Anita Feldman and composer Lois V Vierk during the 1980s and 90s. This piece was the inaugural work for Feldman's Tap Dance Instrument (patented). It had long been Feldman's belief that music made by the feet was equal to music made by musical instruments. Desiring to dance on an instrument that would allow the dancers' feet to make resonant and varied music in any performance situation, she joined forces with San Francisco instrument builder Daniel Schmidt to design the modular and portable Tap Dance Instrument, which was then constructed by Schmidt in 1987. The Tap Dance Instrument consists of six platforms, each about 9 inches off the ground. They can be arranged in any desired configuration. Three of the modules are hexagons of approximately 5 feet across, made of different woods and constructed in varying ways, so that they have individual resonances and timbres. A fourth platform is the "Tap Marimba" with 7 pitched keys. These large wooden keys can be replaced with alternates, so a number of tunings are possible. The remaining two platforms are smaller and are topped with thick brass slabs. They ring like bells, one higher pitched and the other lower.
Hexa was named for all the sixes in the piece (hexagonal floor shapes, six feet on the Tap Dance Instrument, six percussion instruments played by the musician) and for the magical connotations of "hex" and "hex signs".
Opening the work, tap dancers' feet play a tune on the tap marimba, accompanied by the percussionist's muted cymbals. Dancers' arms, legs and bodies create visual designs as the tune moves the three performers back and forth across the tap marimba. Gradually the dancers move to non-pitched wood platforms and then to the brass floor modules.
Audio CD recording is by:
Anita Feldman, David Parker, Rhonda Price dancing on Tap Dance Instrument (patented)
Percussionist Gary Schall
Live electronics with Lexicon PCM 42 by Lois V Vierk
from CD Innova 233 "25 Years of New York New Music: The NYFA Collection"
Video recorded live in concert (a good look at the choreography but sound quality is mediocre)
Tap dance performed by Anita Feldman, Tim Grandia, Rhonda Price
Kerry Meads, percussionist
Live electronics by Lois V Vierk
Video recorded live in concert June 20, 1998, at The Kitchen (NYC)