Californian Rhythm Project keeps audiences on their toes

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To people who are not fast with their feet, tap-dancing presents something of a mystery. It hardly seems humanly possible the way the tap dancers cut the rug all the while with a big smile on their faces as if they were born with a beat in their feet.

The California Rhythm Project, an East County-based dance company, dazzles non-dancers in this way. Headed up by dance instructor Nancy Boskin-Mullen, the company’s newest production Beat without Borders, also garnered a Spirit of the Fringe award at the recent Fringe Festival.

To people who are not fast with their feet, tap-dancing presents something of a mystery. It hardly seems humanly possible the way the tap dancers cut the rug all the while with a big smile on their faces as if they were born with a beat in their feet.

The California Rhythm Project, an East County-based dance company, dazzles non-dancers in this way. Headed up by dance instructor Nancy Boskin-Mullen, the company’s newest production Beat without Borders, also garnered a Spirit of the Fringe award at the recent Fringe Festival.

Since 2012, Boskin-Mullen has been the company’s director. She is already well versed in dance, as she is an instructor in Ballroom Dance at Grossmont College.

Tap dancing, though, has stolen away her heart more than any other form of dance. “I have loved to tap dance since I was a child,” she said.

As a young working dancer most of her training was in Broadway style tap. She was introduces to Rhythm Tap when she was a student at UCLA. That is when she went for tap dancing with gusto. 

When she moved from Los Angeles to San Diego, she was determined to pursue Rhythm Tap. At that time, her niece was involved in competitive Irish dance at Harney Academy, which shared space with the Academy of Performing Arts. It was there that Boskin-Mullen met Pam Thompson, founder of California Rhythm Project.

After Boskin-Mullins became the director, the company became a non-profit 501(c)(3) and established a Board of Directors.

“The biggest change is our presence in the San Diego Dance community,” said Boskin-Mullen.

Under her direction, CRP performs much more often, creating a new concert each year.

CRP has just been added to Young Audience’s roster of performing artists, so the company will be adding school shows to its performance schedule.

The current dance production of the company is “Beats without Borders,” a full-length concert featuring tap dance and world rhythms. 

“I have been interested in cross cultural collaboration for a long time, exploring how tap dance can connect to other rhythmic dance forms, and music from beyond the Western World,” Boskin-Mullen said.

The recent San Diego International Fringe Festival provided her a platform to present the work. “Beats without Borders” has kept audiences on their toes, with them tapping their tapping their feet right along with the dancers. Boskin-Mullen calls the production “fun and quirky.”

But “Beats without Borders” is much more than just fun. The audience gets a peek into the dance styles of many countries, taking the spectator on a trot around the globe. Two “Rhythm Air” flight attendants, played by Katie Amarillas and Vincent Padilla, take the audience on an imaginary trip.

The next performance is scheduled for September 12 – 13 at the Vine Theater in Rancho Bernardo.

CRP dancer Sara Dickman explains that the audiences “gain historical and cultural knowledge about tap and rhythmic dances that allows the traditions to be experienced in a fresh and thoughtful way.

”Beats without Borders” in particular allowed us as artists to think globally about what tap dance is and how it is related to other types of cultural dance,” Dickman said.

Adi Boskin-Mullin dances alongside her mother and the other performers in “Beats without Borders.”

“Personally, I love being able to dance alongside my mom. I am learning new things every day, while getting to bond more with her,” said Boskin-Mullin, a senior in high school. 

Audiences of all ages watching “Beats without Borders” will enjoy watching Adi Boskin-Mullen dance with her mother in good company. 

For more information on California Rhythm Project and the current production of “Beats without Borders,” visit www.CaliforniaRhythmProject.org.

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