Tap dancers kick off festival | VailDaily.com

Tap dancers kick off festival

Jill Beathardjbeathard@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

Special to the DailyBuckets & Tap Shoes was formed by brothers Rick and Andy Ausland. They kick off the Val International Dance Festival on Tuesday.

VAIL, Colorado – Buckets & Tap Shoes. It’s not an eccentric band name created out of thin air; it’s the main percussion instruments of this Minneapolis band. Buckets & Tap Shoes is an act including tap dancing and drumming on buckets, as well as playing musical instruments. This high-energy performance will open the Vail International Dance Festival at Hot Summer Nights of Dance on Tuesday at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Brothers Rick and Andy Ausland formed the group after graduating high school, doing some performances and eventually developing a full cast and show. With a drummer for a father and a dancer for a mother, it’s no surprise where the Auslands’ passions lie. “We’ve just been doing this kind of stuff since we were kids,” Rick Ausland said in a phone interview last week. “It just seemed like a fun thing to do, and this is what we enjoy doing.”Andy and Rick tap dance and drum on buckets, while other cast members play instruments including drums, percussion instruments, keyboard and bass. The performance has evolved since its inception in 2004.”We used to have five people that would do percussion, and then it evolved into the band and stuff, too, where we’re playing music,” Ausland said. “We’re pirating our multitalents, really.”The performances aren’t based on a plot.”We’ve just got different things that sound cool, I think,” Ausland said.

Their performance in Vail is designed to energize the community for this year’s dance festival, said Artistic Director Damian Woetzel. “I just love their energy. Their dancing is on a hugely high level, and they’re incredibly creative,” Woetzel said of the company. “When they arrived in Vail for the first time, they were looking at the amphitheater, and they immediately started concepting things, running down the aisles, doing things with the audience.”Even though Minneapolis just broke the heat index record, Ausland said it has a lot in common with Colorado as far as having a great music scene. “We both have winters and people go inside and they need to do something in the bars, and then the bars hire these bands and that creates this music scene, for the most part,” Ausland said. “And then you’ve got these outdoor festivals in the summer where we’re playing outdoors and everyone just really enjoys that, too.”Prince, Soul Asylum and Atmosphere all hail from Minneapolis, and there’s growing funk, hip-hop and jazz scenes there, Ausland said. New Orleans has had its influence, too.”There’s also kind of a cool connection between Minneapolis and New Orleans and the Mississippi connection,” he said. “It kind of goes all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico, and I think things have come up this way, too. That’s kind of where we got the funk and the blues and stuff up here in Minneapolis.”Ausland said the crew at the Vail festival is the best they’ve ever worked with. “It’s real organized, and they know exactly how to set up a festival for dancers,” he said. “They have a good floor; they have a warm-up area. It’s like they think some things through, certain things that, as a dancer, you want when you arrive. It’s just automatically there – you don’t even have to ask for it.”Buckets & Tap Shoes will perform at Hot Summer Nights on Tuesday, as well as Dancing in the Streets on Thursday and Village Vignettes on Saturday and Sunday. As part of its “Christmas Begins This Summer” program, the Vail Valley Salvation Army will be collecting donations of new toys or clothing at the performance. Donations from the toy drive will be given to local families. Jill Beathard is an intern at the Vail Daily. Email comments about this story to jbeathard@vaildaily.com.