Once a part of the St. Olaf College class of 2006, Miller transferred after her first year to pursue additional dance opportunities at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. It's just in me to tap, Miller said. It feels like the most natural thing that I do in my everyday life.
Her lightning fast feet quickly carried her to a position with the Minneapolis-based grassroots tap troupe, Ten Foot Five(TFF).
Founded in 1997 by brothers Andy and Rick Ausland, Ten Foot Five performed on the streets of the Twin Cities, combining their no-holds-barred approach to tap with a five gallon bucket drum ensemble and a live band to lay down a heavy groove. The result? A show called Buckets and Tap Shoes (BTS).
Miller first witnessed Ten Foot Fives raw tap styling as a high-school student. I thought what they were doing was so awesome and inspired, Miller said. Over the following years, she kept in touch with guys. Then, when TFF earned a spot in the 2004 Minnesota Fringe Festival and the ensemble needed a fifth dancer, they turned to Miller to fill the spot. Ive been a part of the madness ever since, Miller said.
The Ausland brothers, Miller and partners in tap Ricci Milan and Nick Bowman (five people, ten feet) shuffled, flapped and shim-shammed their way to earn Buckets and Tap Shoes the top award, Best of the Fringe.
Andy and Rick live and breathe what they do, and they are pretty inspiring individuals to be around, Miller said.
For Miller, keeping up with experienced improvisational tap dancers proves quite challenging. Before this group, I was pretty scared about improv, but now it's my favorite part about tapping, Miller said. You never know what is going to come out.
While raw, street-style improv tap remains the shining jewel of each performance, interludes of oil-barrel drumming, electric guitar riffing and dead-on impersonations of The Terminator round out the package.
Buckets and Tap Shoes defies almost every traditional dance concert norm. Audience members should not expect to sit politely in a concert hall while spandexed men and women frolic to Chopin. BTS demands audience participation.
In a typical finale, the dancers and band members dispurse hundreds of drumsticks into the crowd. With noise-makers in hand the audience is encouraged to join in the cacophony of sound.
Using handrails, half-empty beer bottles, the floor and sometimes the
person next to you, the whole venue begins to pound out rhythms. Surprisingly, the result is not utter chaos but rather a work of art. Out of the deafening vibrations, hypnotic, tribal rhythms emerge from and sink into the pool of sound.
Ten Foot Five taps with passion, speed and talent that makes Fred Astaire look like a dinosaur. It is no wonder that the City Pages declared BTS the Best Dance Performance of the Past 12 Months.
I think we just hope that audiences have a great time, and get a chance to get out of their head for a bit, Miller said.
For a full schedule of performances visit www.10foot5.com. Miller will be performing in "Naari" at O'Shaughnessy Auditorium Oct. 21-23 in works by tap dancer Roxane Butterfly, and then in the University Dance Theatre's "Dance Revolutions" concert in a work by Joe Chvala Dec. 9 through 11.