Lois V Vierk and Anita Feldman
for solo tap dancer on Tap Dance Instrument (patented), cello, and marimba
Twister 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 and is one of a number of works that Feldman created with various composers for her 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. Twister uses 4 of the 6 floor modules, namely the wooden oak module, the Tap Marimba, and the two brass-topped modules.
Twister originated from the artists' desire to make a piece that would feature a solo dancer's virtuoso tapping ability. The work combines tap, cello and marimba to create sounds and movements inspired by wind -- from gentle breezes to twisting tornadoes.
Feldman and Vierk worked together on all major aspects of the work. They experimented with different tapping techniques on each of the Tap Dance Instrument floor modules. They developed sound materials and phrases together, and these later turned into larger sections and then into the entire piece. The cello and marimba parts were composed to intertwine with the tap dance part.
Composer and choreographer commission fees for Twister were made possible by a grant from Meet The Composer's Composer/ Choreographer Project, a national program funded by the Ford Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trust.
The premiere of Twister was at a music concert presented at Merkin Hall in New York City by the ISCM (International Society of Contemporary Music) on March 18, 1993. Anita Feldman Tap (Anita Feldman's dance company) performed Twister many times after that, at both dance and music venues. Performance highlights include New York City venues Town Hall, Woodpeckers Tap Dance Center, The Kitchen, and radio WNYC-fm, as well as at Dance Place in Washington DC. The piece was performed in Germany at Podewil concert hall in Berlin, Theaterhaus in Frankfurt, Galerie Rose in Hamburg and Pro Musica Nova Festival, Radio Bremen.
Over the years Twister has been danced by Anita Feldman and by Rhonda Price. Cellists have included Ted Mook, Mark Stewart and Bruce Wang. Marimba players have included Tigger Benford, Michael Lipsey, Gary Schall and Thad Wheeler. Costume design is by Denise Mitchell. Lighting design is by Sarah Sidman.
Audio live in concert recording, which plays while viewing the score, is by:
Anita Feldman dancing on Tap Dance Instrument
Mark Stewart, cello
Tigger Benford, marimba
Recorded live in concert at Merkin Hall, New York City, March 18, 1993
Video recorded live in concert (a good look at the choreography, sound quality is fair)
Rhonda Price dancing on Tap Dance Instrument
Bruce Wang, cello
Thad Wheeler, marimba
Video recorded live in concert June 20, 1998, at The Kitchen (NYC)