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'Tap-a-ce-tic' hits Center Stage on Aug. 8

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“Tap-a-ce-tic” dancers led by Brandon Chitwood will thrill audiences with a tap extravaganza August 8-10 at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. Pictured, from left to right, are Brad Coggin, Haley Jenkins, Brandon Chitwood, Alicia Newcom, Skylar Newcom and Laurin Dunleavy) (Special Photo: James Jin)

“Tap-a-ce-tic” is a one of a kind performance that will blow the audience away,” Gwinnett dancer and teacher Brandon Chitwood said. “We are taking tap dance to a whole new dimension with our stunning lights, sets and quick feet!”

Brandon will not be alone on stage. Other tappers include Alicia Newcom, who is also the assistant director, Skylar Newcom, Haley Jenkins and Brad Coggin. All of these dancers grew up together in Gwinnett County and all have trained under Chitwood.

“Audiences will have a new appreciation for this form of dance that is not taught as much as it used to,” Chitwood said. “Some of the props and sets rotate, light up and swing! The atmosphere should feel very intimate, leaving the audience open to applaud, cheer and participate with the dancers. The audience should leave excited and with an appreciation for entertainment.”

The Gwinnett arts community is more familiar with Chitwood and his wife, Alicia, as being the new owners of Southern Performing Arts Academy, home of Southern Ballet Theatre. Chitwood grew up in the school but his journey into dance started with an altogether different form of movement.

Growing up, he played soccer. In the summer before high school his coach recommended that the team take tap classes to improve their footwork and speed, and the rest is history. Dance became an important part of his life so much that it is now Chitwood’s career.

Gene Kelly, Gregory Hines, Donald O’Connor, Steve Condos and Sammy Davis Jr. were all an inspiration to him.

“Tap is different (from other forms of dance) because instead of dancing to the rhythm of the music, your feet make the rhythm, like a musician,” Chitwood says. “Your feet can lead you to make your own music, experimenting with different sounds from the shoes and parts of your feet. There is freedom with tap dancing. You are only limited by the size of your imagination.”

In creating “Tap-a-ce-tic” Chitwood wants to combine tap with unconventional sets and props, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats.

“I believe in taking the audience on an entertainment journey. I want to entertain a wide variety of audiences, not just people who like dance. This way, people who have never stepped into a theatre will have a new appreciation for dance, especially tap dancing.”

For more information about Chitwood and the Southern Performing Arts Academy, visit the website at www.southernperformingartsacademy.com or call the studios at 678-682-9238.

Four performances of “Tap-a-ce-tic” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10. Shows are held at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center and tickets are priced at $35 to $60. They are available by calling 770-813-7600 or going to www.gwinnettcenter.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.