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Tapestry contemplates 'what if?'

With past, current dancers, company will revisit pieces dating back as far as its inception in '89

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Twenty years ago, Acia Gray and Deidre Strand, both accomplished tap dancers, dreamed of merging other dance genres with the rhythm-oriented tap style. The outcome of that dream is Tapestry Dance Company, an Austin professional nonprofit dance company that has delighted audiences with its signature blend of modern, ballet and world dance all woven together by explosive tap dance. The company also maintains a busy dance academy in South Austin and has garnered a slew of local awards. In 2002, Gray was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.

Most recently, Tapestry took its show on the national road. 'The Souls of Our Feet: A Celebration of American Tap Dance,' which restages noted historic and contemporary rhythm tap dances, is currently on tour through the National Endowment for the Arts' American Masterpieces program.

This weekend, Tapestry celebrates with a retrospective show that features the company's current dancers as well as alumni from seasons past.

Austin American-Statesman: How have you culled two decades years of dance-making into one evening's performance?

Acia Gray: It hasn't been easy. Trying to share in some way the creativity of over 350 original works over the last 20 years or the impact the company has made in outreach and education above and beyond the professional company is impossible. What we do realize is that the dancers are the soul of the company. With that in mind, I've sculpted an evening of 'what if's' — taking 14 available alumni of the company as well as current company members to showcase moments that look back and get the audience to ponder 'what if' as well.

For example to explore the thread 'what if you have a legacy to continue?,' current dancers will revisit a 1989 piece while they are shadowed by the original company members.

Is there a particularly endearing moment that stands out for you after 20 years?

Gray: I think seeing (Tapestry co-founder) Deirdre's daughter Siobhan dance for this 20th anniversary show in a restaged version of 'Lullaby' (from 1996's 'Games People Play,' when she made a cameo appearance as 'the child'). Witnessing her interaction with the alumni who were on stage the first time and the final moment now with her Mom is priceless. So much of our history can be seen in this moment and the little girl who is all grown up and dancing as a professional in the company. Pretty cool.

This season your company is performing several shows every month at Salvage Vanguard Theater. Can't y'all stop dancing?

Gray: Our new board president Victoria Osborne said, 'We need to make Tapestry a household name.' (Our monthly shows) are a whole bunch of dancing for sure. We're just sharing the power of dance.

'20/20 Looking Back: A Celebration of 20 Years of Tapestry'

When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Rollins Studio Theatre, Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive

Cost: $18-$35

Information: www.tapestry.org, www.thelongcenter.org