Back in the mid-1990s, when they were a handful of brazen working-class blokes stomping all over show-biz stereotypes, the guys of Tap Dogs were just thinking about making some noise and showing the world that even factory workers could cut a rug (or, in their case, rattle steel I-beams).
But the show has proven to be a much more durable phenomenon than its original concept of hunky jeans-and-flannel-clad guys tap dancing in work boots in a faux factory setting might have suggested. The creation of Australian metal worker-turned-choreographer Dein Perry, Tap Dogs took off in its native Australia in 1995 to become — and remain — a global hit. The show, which powers into the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts until July 10, has played to 12 million people in 330 cities, and the Dogs have appeared at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and on the hit Fox show So You Think You Can Dance.
Creator Perry studied tap growing up in Newcastle, a factory town, he saw little chance of a career and at 17 followed his father to work as an industrial machinist. Six years later Perry moved to Sydney, worked in various musicals, then gathered his younger brother Sheldon and a handful of friends who had given up on dance dreams to take blue-collar jobs and created a gritty, athletic, rock-powered show.
Over the years Perry has fine tuned the show and added numbers. As Tap Dogs has outgrown its brash origins to become an entertainment franchise, with various productions and tours requiring regular infusions of new talent, the Perry brothers and their original mates strive to teach their old tricks of spontaneity and authenticity to the new Dogs. Ideally, a Tap Dog should look as if he has just walked off a construction crew to have some fun by working rhythmic miracles with his feet.
‘Tap Dogs’ 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 7:30 p.m. July 6-8; 7:30 and 10 p.m. July 9; 2 and 8 p.m. July 10; Ziff Ballet Opera House, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722, arshtcenter.org. Tickets: $40-$50