Time Steps

Laraine Goodman's "Vaudeville 2000" (La MaMa Annex, Thursday through Sunday) is a triumph of product placement. Goodman founded Pedicabs of New York, and ferries artists around the stage in her pink pedal-powered vehicle. Her East Village tap extravaganza mates the flash style of '30s artists like Marion Coles (who lends a touch of class as she and her company stroll to Patti Austin's "Ability To Swing") with the funk of Savion Glover (represented by the Young Hoofers) and Downtown costume madness reminiscent of Charles Allcroft (dancing codfish! "Time flies" with organza wings, pursued by a crazed exterminator!). For nearly three hours, dancers young and old, local and imported, black, white, and Asian literally rock the house, a cappella or backed by a terrific combo of live musicians (Mauro Remiddi at the piano, Heather Paauwe on violin, Ben Allison on bass, and Pheeroan akLaff the anchor on drums). Mercifully, barely a word is spoken; a gentleman in the front row tends an easel of signs announcing the acts.

Tap legend Buster Brown did not appear on opening weekend as announced, but the 12-year-old ace who was to have accompanied him, Michela Lerman, hoofed her way brilliantly through several numbers. A young lady named Rhythm Kaneko demonstrated, with her partner Yukiko Yamamoto, that tap is alive and well among Japanese expats in New York, as did urbane Sam Seimiya, who evoked Fred Astaire's elegant dancing in a jazz medley; Kazu Kumagai tapped to Qing Hua Zhang on Chinese flute.

Goodman, who ran an acclaimed cabaret on an East Village stoop one recent summer, has bitten off a lot here; her cast usually performs in smaller precincts like Swing 46 and the Knitting Factory. The evening feels like a recital in a very funky settlement house, with vaudeville pros joining the kids to revel in a dance form that's clearly got its second wind. Only once did I find myself wanting the guy with the hook, a fixture in old-time vaudeville houses, to drag an artist offstage.

 
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