“Kazunori Kumagai: Resolution of My Tap”

by Karen Foster

Bunkamura
Saturday Oct. 9, 6:18 p.m.

After several years of performing in small dance clubs, 29-year-old Kazunori Kumagai — who blends tap, hip-hop attitude and energetic acrobatics — brings his hard-hitting style to Bunkamura Hall (www.bunkamura.co.jp) in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Saturday (tickets 7,000 yen).

Kumagai, who has been dancing since age 15, went to New York City in 1996 and studied under tap innovator Savion Glover. Shunned by the Tokyo tap community for moving away from traditional styles, Kumagai started his own group comprised of other New York-trained dancers and innovative jazz artists such as Soil and “Pimp” Sessions. The group’s shows often end up in impromptu challenges that involve musicians and dancers who may have turned up just to watch.

When Kumagai performs, he acts as a percussive member of the band. He often moves around the edges of the stage, encouraging the audience not to give him too much focus — listening to the dancing is just as important as watching it. But his macho and edgy style provokes musicians to enter into a dialogue. He takes solos the same as any musician in a jazz unit would, and dances in support of the others when they solo.

On Saturday, he’s forming a one-off quartet with three jazz musicians for “Resolution of My Tap,” which celebrates his experiences here and in New York. The band is made up of Bill Ware on vibes, Brad Jones on bass and drummer Jamie Aff, all regulars at New York’s mecca for avant-garde jazz enthusiasts, the Knitting Factory. Audiences can also expect to see a number of other talented dancers invited up on stage.