Bill Evans' latest show provides a Valentine serenade

05:00 AM, Feb 10, 2013

Cheryl Johnson, Bill Evans and Courtney World will perform in Rochester Rhythm and Romance: Jazz Hugs and Tap Kisses. (Photo provided by Bill Evans)/

Written By Caurie Putnam

If you go

RRROX — Rochester Rhythm and Romance: Jazz Hugs and Tap Kisses.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday; 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 and 4 p.m. next Sunday.
Where: Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, 540 E. Main St.
Cost: $25.
For tickets: (585) 325-4370.

You could give your Valentine a box of assorted chocolates this holiday. Or … tap, tap … you could get tickets to RRROX, short for Rochester Rhythm and Romance: Jazz Hugs and Tap Kisses, a new show by Bill Evans.

Evans is an internationally renowned choreographer and dancer who has served on the full-time faculty of the The College at Brockport since retiring from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 2004.

Evans has choreographed more than 200 works for more than 70 professional dance companies. This spring, the Rochester City Ballet will perform a new work by him in its spring concert. He was recently named one of the nation’s top three favorite tap dancers by the readers of Dance Magazine.

His reputation is pretty incredible,” says Courtney World, 30, of Rochester, who knew of Evans even before becoming a graduate student of his in 2004 and, later, a performer with the Bill Evans Dance Company, which he founded in 1975. “He is a master educator and dance teacher.”

World, who teaches dance at the University of Rochester and Nazareth College, will be tapping with Evans during RRROX, which plays Wednesday through Sunday at Downstairs Cabaret’s 540 E. Main St. theater.

The last tap-rich show Evans staged, called Autumn Leaves at Geva in 2011, sold out.

I’m excited to do one and especially with a Valentine’s theme,” says Evans in a phone interview from North Carolina, where he was serving a recent guest artist residency at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Although RRROX will be primarily tap, Evans says you don’t have to understand tap to enjoy the show. A third of the pieces will include live jazz vocals.

The jazz music aspect is really significant, and people who love jazz music will be very happy,” Evans says.

Jazz vocals will be performed by Cheryl Johnson, an adjunct lecturer at The College at Brockport and guest performer with the Bill Evans Dance Company.

The jazz sets the mood,” says Johnson, who moved back to her native Rochester in 2011 after dancing and teaching in Seattle for three decades. “The words have a sentimental value that is nice to have for Valentine’s Day.”

Also performing will be Richard Delaney, an acclaimed Cuban-style jazz musician and director of the Mambo Kings; Tamara Wilcox, director of music in the Department of Dance at Brockport; and several other guest artists from the Bill Evans Dance Company and The College at Brockport Department of Dance.

The OASIS Tappers, a troupe of Rochester tappers 50 and older, will also perform at several of the shows.

One of their dancers is 94,” Evans says. “They are just amazing and people go crazy for them. They’re very popular.”