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Posts from the ‘M.A.D.D. Respect’ Category

23
Dec

Bril Barrett Is One Of The Chicago Tribune’s Chicagoans of the Year 2016

M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ Bril Barrett is a tap evangelist

Laura Molzahn

Laura MolzahnChicago Tribune

Over the years, grass-roots warrior Bril Barrett has spread the gospel of tap every chance he gets, making his own way but also paving the way for others. The organization he founded in 2001, M.A.D.D. (“Making a Difference Dancing”) Rhythms, has played a huge role in that: This nationally known performance troupe also hosts a youth dance ensemble, an After School Matters apprenticeship program and a tap academy for youngsters at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, where it’s an arts partner. It offers free or donation-only tap jams all around the city, and in his spare time, Barrett teaches “Grown & Sexy” adult tap at the American Rhythm Center downtown.

Born and raised in North Lawndale, Barrett notes dryly that his family “was not economically privileged.” So his working mom, who wanted to keep him out of trouble, enrolled him at age 4 in free dance classes at the Better Boys Foundation, where he went almost every day with his cousins, who also lived in the household. When one of his BBF teachers, Carlton Smith, moved to a North Side studio, he offered Barrett a discounted class rate: $5, which the boy sometimes paid by “scraping up pennies.” When he attended the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre, his uncle paid the tuition, and his auntie took him to class.

“So when people say it takes a village — truly in my case I have so much appreciation and love for the village,” Barrett says.

One of his earliest mentors was Mr. Taps (aka Ayrie Easley King III), a subway performer he started joining underground at age 11. “I didn’t really get into jazz till Mr. Taps,” Barrett says. “He introduced me to Count Basie — if it was swing, he was dancing to it.” Mr. Taps showed video of classic acts like the Nicholas Brothers and the Four Step Brothers during “footage nights,” every Friday at his house. “We’d make popcorn,” Barrett says. “Me and my cousin used to try to copy all the routines.”

Through Chicago on Tap in summer 1994, Barrett met Savion Glover, who became a friend. It also brought him to Lane Alexander of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, who gave Barrett’s first group, Steppin’ Out, its first performance opportunity. In 1998, Barrett joined the North American tour of “Riverdance,” and in 2000 its international tour.

“I never set out to be a teacher,” Barrett says. “I wanted to perform.” But family circumstances proved the seed of education-oriented M.A.D.D. Rhythms. While he was touring with “Riverdance,” his mother let him know that his younger brother “was starting to hang with a tough crowd,” Barrett says. Aiming to share his love of tap — and keep his little brother close — Barrett started tap jams for talented boys at the Sammy Dyer school in the late ’90s. Then his little sister, Star Dixon, asked, “How come it’s just boys?” He had no good answer, and she joined.

In 2001, Barrett turned his impromptu jammers into M.A.D.D. Rhythms, headquartered at the South Shore Cultural Center. In 2010, the company and the teaching academy made the Harold Washington Cultural Center their home.

The M.A.D.D. Rhythms style, often described as funky, has become better-known through Barrett’s former students, now gaining fame. Star Dixon had great success with her untitled work for 10 at the Audible Odyssey show in May and performed with Dorrance Dance at the Kennedy Center in October. Nico Rubio has taught and performed nationally and internationally. And Jumaane Taylor, often cited as an influence by dancers his own age, created the superb evening-length “Supreme Love” in fall 2015 and gave it a triumphant reprise last summer at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “JUBA!” performances.

The M.A.D.D. style grew out of Barrett’s many music influences. “I grew up loving everything my mom loved,” he says. “And she was into soul music, old-school R&B and a little jazz — she loved Al Jarreau and Stevie Wonder. Then I fell in love with hip-hop when I was around 11. I used to walk around with my Walkman that I bought from street performing with Mr. Taps, listening to nothing but hip-hop.” Later, Barrett learned about world music — the rhythms of the Irish bodhran and the Indian tabla — through “Riverdance.”

In fact, tap might be considered an avenue to world peace — or at least racial integration, which is sometimes just a matter of getting people together in the same room. “Tap is why I know as many people outside my community as I know inside it,” Barrett says. On the other side of the coin, he’s now one of the first black people that white students interact with, he says.

Nevertheless, “Tap remains divided in some ways because people are not real about the history. The people who created my art form weren’t even considered human beings at one point,” Barrett notes. “And given the treatment of African-Americans when tap dance was gaining its roots, people started to impose their own history on it, to ‘legitimize’ it.”

MEET ALL OF THE TRIBUNE’S CHICAGOANS OF THE YEAR

But when you get past that divide, to the root of the art form being expression, “it can be wonderful,” Barrett says. “Horrible things are happening in this country, unarmed black men being killed. But if I go to a class, all this other stuff goes away. Tap is my sanity, it’s kept me from boiling over many times. I wish everybody had an option to get that out of their systems, to hold conversations with people who don’t look like them. Tap is a perfect way — not the only way — to bring racial healing.”

Laura Molzahn is a freelance critic.

ctc-arts@chicagotribune.com

11
Oct

Jumaane Taylor @ Twin Cities Tap Fest

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Classes. Concerts. Community.

The Twin Cities Tap Festival brings together local tap dancers of all ages  with national artists to share and learn about rhythm, music, and the art of tap dance.

Tap dancers of all ages and ability levels – enhance  your technique, expand your creativity, and make new friends when you register for classes with top local and national tap artists as well as attend world-class performances highlighting the diverse and ever-evolving art of tap dance.

REGISTRATION

5
Sep

Register Now For The 2016/17 Season

MADD RHYTHMS Brochure FAll 2016 HWCCMADD RHYTHMS Brochure FAll 2016 ARC MADD RHYTHMS Brochure FAll 2016 ARC

17
Aug

Tristan Bruns & Ian Berg Premier New Choreography In THRUST!

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THRUST! is the opening performance of Tapman Productions’ 2016-2017 season. This unique double feature of tap and modern dance showcases the work of long-time Tapman Productions collaborators Tristan Bruns (tap) and Kate O’Hanlon (modern) and special guest choreographer Ian Berg (tap). The pieces performed are created specifically for this thrust (three-sided) stage with original music by Trainwreck Symphony and composer Carolyn O’Brien, and new arrangements of popular music.

We are pulling out all the stops for this performance, and we need your help to make it happen. For every $15 donation you make on our GoFundMe page, you’ll receive a ticket to the THRUST! performance of your choice. It’s a great way to assist our efforts to bring you this mash up show of epic proportions AND save yourself a little dough!

DONATE HERE: www.gofundme.com/TapmanTHRUST

This project is partially supported by an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

2
May

M.A.D.D. Rhythms @ HAROLD WASHINGTON CULTURAL CENTER ALL THAT JAZZ AND PIZZAZ THEATRICAL GALA

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2
May

Bril Barrett @ 4th Annual Las Vegas Tap Festival

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CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

2
May

M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew @ We Run The Runway

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14
Jun

M.A.D.D. Rhythms’ Needs Your VOTE – Help Us Get An $100,000 Grant To Make Even MORE Of A Difference Dancing Rhythms

Dear friends, family, fans, supporters and recipients of various opportunities provided by

M.A.D.D. Rhythms,

We are calling on you to help us reach the next level of consideration for a $100,000 grant from Chase.

All it takes is 1 click of the above image and your vote is cast.

We are more than halfway there, but we need you to put us over the top!

Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to help us continue to help our communities!

-Bril Barrett

Founder/Director of M.A.D.D. Rhythms

12
Jun

M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew @ Let Hope Rise

Join us for Let Hope Rise, a new, all-ages, FREE, monthly, one-day event in the parks.

Featuring Sandra Delgado, Kristina Isabelle, Bril Barrett & M.A.D.D. Rhythms West: The BBF Crew, Priya Shah,Mac Strongg, John Bitoy, The Collaboraction Teen Ensemble, and Crime Scene:The Next Chapter.

LET HOPE RISE is all about increasing the peace, art, love, hope, and fun in Chicago.

Taking place the 2nd Saturday of each month, LET HOPE RISE kicks off with a free community lunch at Noon featuring free pizza by Connie’s pizza with performances beginning at 1pm followed by artistic and education workshops.

Learn more at collaboraction.org

4
Sep

Bril Barrett’s #FREE Tap Classes @ ARC’s DANCE FREE-4-ALL

27
Jul

Bril Barrett @ CHRP’s Rhythm World 24 Tap Festival

Bril Barrett will be teaching at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World 24,

July 7 – August 3, 2014

DON’T MISS IT!

RHYTHM WORLD is America’s longest running and most comprehensive festival of
American tap and contemporary percussive arts.
Rhythm World hosts an opening night concert at Chicago’s historic Jazz Showcase, three concerts at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, a tap jam, a student showcase, and a vast array of masterclasses, workshops, courses, and residencies with worldrenowned performers and teachers.
See more HERE

Registration is open!

Click here to purchase tickets to the July 30 & 31, August 2 performances @ MCA.

For more information about the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Rhythms World visit

http://www.chicagotap.org/