Jaye Allison’s Be The Rhythm | A Life Spent Making Noise

by Gina Palumbo for The Dance Journal

On Friday, September 11 t h, percussive legend Jaye Allison presented a film for the Fringe Festival, and she answered the questions that artists hold in their hearts.  She also told us how dance deliberately and without apology, seeped into her life. The process of creating dance and the courage needed to bring work out of the walls of the rehearsal room and to the stage were documented. Sharp and honest, Be The Rhythm is a culmination of the memories won in a life spent making noise.

The film opened with a recording of Jaye, Maximus Klevence, and Karina Weiner dancing in Something’s AFoot!, a performance for Tony Waag’s Tap Dance Foundation Showcase on April 20, 2019. The shuffles and slaps jibed, but the three dancers, in red, approached them with their own gooiness that lives in the shoulders and hips, chemical reactions to the jazz and soul of the Pointer Sisters.

Jaye Allison brought us to the rehearsal space,  equipped with all of the sounds and words and sweat that the audience does not see. Barefoot and exploring the freedom of modern dance, Allison stretched and spiraled in a favorite head and heart space of many: an empty studio. She spoke too, about how dance grabbed hold of her after she was an audience member at The Academy of Music for the first time in her life. Before I knew it, she had golden tap shoes on and she told us how dance is not “just weirdos running around with scarves,” and that “it’s actually magic.”  I have surrounded my life with so many movers that it is easy to forget that people still think that dance is useless.

Make It Go Away was next performed for Tony Waag’s Foundation Showcase this past February by Jaye and Maximus Klevence, Linda Paseltiner, Tweety Klevence, Anastasia Lucas, Charming Helms, and Liam Klevence. Modern and tap mixed, while tappers formed a perimeter around barefoot dancers in the middle. Simultaneously, and without struggle, Jaye danced and sang, even though dance stretches the breath to its limits on its own.

Concluding the film was a return to the rehearsal space with the same cast of dancers, but this time without Charming Helms and with the addition Alexis Garrett. In this final section, it was just the dancers and sounds they could make naturally, but a small bell in Allison’s palm kept time. Hands and feet pounded the floor, producing sounds that lie deep in the earth, those that our ancestors made and left behind for us, long before instruments and stereos.

Be The Rhythm is the embodiment that life is not just disappointments, but the victory that comes in the act of speaking our truth.

Be The Rhythm
Jaye Allison’s JADA Dance
September 10 – October 4
part of 2020 Fringe Festival
Runtime: 35 min on Vimeo
Tickets: $5

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