Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic Awakens The American Repertory Theatre

In the every day, if you are lucky, you are constantly chasing a little magic. The magic is that little moment that catches you off guard and makes you smile, laugh, or wonder. Chasing Magic’s underlying themes of every day life remind you of these moments. In this grand reopening of live performance at the American Repertory Theatre, the dancers and musicians themselves are magic; their bodies create music, tell stories, and make you feel the electricity that they are living in that moment.

Anthony Morigerato, Ayodele Casel, John Manzari, and Kurt Csolak in Ayodele
Casel: Chasing Magic at American Repertory Theater through October 9.
Photo Credit: Liza Voll.

The seemingly simple themes of friendship, trust, and culture among others are all highlighted by the rhythms, movements and sounds of the show’s tappers and musicians. Ayodele Casel’s joy when she performs is infectious. The dances go from the valued but lighthearted relationships among friends to the deep rooted rhythms of culture, heritage and history of Africa and African roots. Each piece feels like a chapter to a favourite book. While the show is just over an hour, you feel like you have been taken on a longer deeper journey. Time warps.

Amanda Castro, Ayodele Casel, and Kurt Csolak in Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic
at American Repertory Theater through October Photo Credit: Liza Voll.

As audience members, we sat in silence taking in the sounds of each toe tap and slide, we cheered after exhilarating phrases, we sang, and we felt the pure joy and celebration of dance, music and sharing moments between dancers, dancers and musicians, dancers and the audience, and musicians and the audience. We were in it together no matter what “it” was going to be.

Crystal Monee Hall and Keisel Jiménez in Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic at
American Repertory Theater through October 9. Photo Credit: Liza Voll.

The improvisational aspects of tap dance adds another element of magic. One of my favourite pieces was the improvisational duet with piano (Anibal Cruz in the previews and Arturo O’Farrill on opening night) and Ayodele Casel. It was like listening in on a private conversation between two very good friends.

Chasing Magic at the Joyce Production Photo Arturo O’Farrill and Ayodele Casel perform “The Sandbox.”
Photo: Kurt Csolak

This was my first show since the pandemic. Vaccination cards were shown upon arrival. Masks were worn. Intermissions were skipped. It was new and different, but all okay. It was a treat to be back among artists and art lovers.

Good to be back, doesn’t quite capture this moment.

If you don’t know much about tap, see the show. If you love tap, see the show. It is a performance that humans of all ages and interests can relate to and enjoy. I hope my dancer daughter will go see it as well as my music loving son, because the most unique thing about real, soulful, tap dancing is that it is both movement, music, and story telling.

Amanda Castro with text by Ronald K. Brown in Ayodele Casel: Chasing Magic at
American Repertory Theater through October 9. Photo Credit: Liza Voll.

Tickets from $25 are available at American Repertory Theater. Discounts are available to students and ticket-buyers under age 25, Blue Star families, EBT card holders, seniors, Harvard faculty and staff, and others. More information can be found here.

Performance dates and times.
Relaxed Performance: Sunday, October 3 at 2PM
Open to all audience members who could benefit from a more relaxed atmosphere at the theater
Morning Matinee Performance: Wednesday, October 6 at 12PM

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