Tap dancer Roxane Butterfly often seems like a sprinter—her idling tempo is faster than most dancers’ full-steam-ahead—but watch the French expatriate awhile and her training as a long-distance runner becomes apparent. Off the dancefloor, she’s equally indefatigable. In the ’90s, when she realized female tap dancers weren’t offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts, Butterfly created an all-woman ensemble of musicians, hip-hop dancers, and hoofers. Then she did something harder—secured gigs and built a following.
This week she gets her largest showing to date as part of the 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Project. Her new Hoofalogie concentrates on the inflections international dancers bring to tap—sometimes what you might expect (Argentinean Pablo Veron, on video, mixing in tango), sometimes not (Austrian Max Pollack contributing Afro-Cuban). With a super-hip score by Graham Haynes, the show is Butterfly’s most accomplished, seamlessly integrating solo and ensemble work, choreography and improvisation. Her cultural and gender politics emerge in spoken-word sections, but these, too, are better integrated, less tendentious. “I made my statement with BeauteeZ,” she says, “that women can stand alone. Now it’s nice to share.”