Nic Gareiss and Caleb Teicher want to show you something new: a place where jazz, tap, folk and other styles of percussive dance intertwine. The duo explores the spaces between those genres Tuesday with an intimate duo performance at the Robin theatre.
Percussive dance is an umbrella term that classifies a wide range of dances that rely on precisely executed footwork, usually amplified by tap shoes, clogs or other hard shoes.
“I’m lucky to work between so many styles and genres,” said Nic Gareiss, a Lansing-based dancer, musician and dance researcher.
The Michigan native has in degrees in music and anthropology from Central Michigan University and the University of Limerick in Ireland. His specialty is percussive folk dancing, including Appalachian flat-footing, Québécois, Irish step dance and flamenco.
Gareiss has performed with acts such as the Chieftains and Grammy-winning recording artist Tim O’Brian, to name just a few. Teicher, on the other hand, comes from a very different stylistic background.
Gareiss met Teicher five years ago at an event that brought together dancers from diverse genres. A highenergy performer with roots in jazz and tap dance, Teicher got his start in 2011 as a founding member of Michelle Dorrance’s celebrated company, Dorrance Dance. Since then, he has performed with the Chase Brock Experience, Syncopated City Dance Company, the Bang Group, iLuminate and Irma La Douce. He has even founded his own dance company, Caleb Teicher & Company.
Gareiss described Teicher as a “world-class dancer,” the type of talent Midwesterners rarely the chance to see, while the New York Times has called him a “sleek dancer who possesses a beguiling combination of a relaxed upper body with switchblade feet.”
Teicher and Gareiss live and work in different places, have studied and performed in diverse areas, both nationally and internationally, and perform different genres of dance. With their stylistic differences, Teicher and Gareiss may seem like unlikely partners, but this melding of genres propels their performance.
“We’re really focused on mixing these styles and creating something new,” Gareiss said.
Gareiss and Teicher’s performance is meant to remind those watching that dance, specifically the genres of percussive dance they perform, have aided in the formation and development of many world music traditions. While Gareiss describes his performance with Teicher as a concert, the group of talented musicians that accompany the duo are primarily meant to highlight the dance.
“Whether it be jazz, tap, swing or any other kind of percussive dance; we are trying to evoke that music with our bodies, not necessarily just instruments,” Gareiss said.
The duo’s unique amalgamation of styles is enhanced by the space of the Robin theatre, Gareiss said. Dance is often performed in grandiose settings where large stages, bright lights and velvet curtains are the norm. Gareiss said he is excited for the chance to play in a “very intimate and very beautiful venue,” allowing the audience a chance to be mere feet from two world-class pairs of feet.
While Gareiss and Teicher hope to create something new with their fusion of styles, Gareiss is quick to point out that dance is one of humankind’s oldest traditions.
“There’s jazz and folk in the tendons and musculature of the legs,” Gareiss said.
Caleb Teicher and Nic Gareiss
8 p.m. Tuesday, May 30
The Robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing.
(989) 878-1810, therobintheatre.com