How Caleb Teicher Became King of Old-School Cool

How Caleb Teicher Became King of Old-School Cool

When Michelle Dorrance put on her first support as Dorrance Dance in 2011, in a shared evening with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, a charismatic teenager was featured in both choreographers’ manipulates. Critic Gia Kourlas described Caleb Teicher in The New York Times as “a sleek dancer who retains a capturing compounding of a tightened upper mas with switchblade feet.” His appearance prevailed him a Bessie for Outstanding Individual Performance.

The day after the welcoming ceremony, he was back in class–ballet class. His growing honour as a red-hot young tap dancer was establishing Teicher apprehensive that he would find himself pigeonholed before he had time to explore other options. So, he aggressively haunted anything that they are able to give him be “not a tap dancer.”

He jam-pack the next five years with know-how across the board: a six-month apprenticeship with Camille A. Brown& Dancers; a yearlong contract touring Europe with West Side Story; a period as identify choreographer to Chase Brock. He also detected Lindy hop, and get fixed on the scene’s focus on dancing for the glee of it, like musicians jamming. All the while he continued to dance regularly with Dorrance. And he delved into his most persistent passion: choreography.


Today, Teicher may only be 26, but New York City Center, La MaMa, The Yard, CUNY Dance Initiative, Jacob’s Pillow and Works& Process at the Guggenheim have all commissioned and presented his occupation. Last-place time, musician Ben Folds invited Teicher to the Kennedy Center for the Ben Folds Presents Declassified succession with the National Symphony Orchestra, where he shared the stage with Regina Spektor and Jon Batiste.

Spektor cherished working with him so much she invited him to be part of her own substantiate on Broadway this summer; he danced to four members of her vocals, including one in which really the two of them performed together on the dance storey. During the range, he found out he’d been nominated for three more Bessies.

Yet despite such early success, Teicher maintains an unaffected charm. When I caught up with him at New York City Center, where he is currently a choreography person, he had a pair of spate green roller skates dangling around his neck–ready for some recreational skating and shaking dancing after our interrogation. With a swooning awareness of a master plan, a lament antenna for a entertaining assignment and a rare appreciation of coldnes in the midst of any work in progress, Teicher has surmounted a unwound balance of journey and destination.


Teicher started tap at senility 10. “His fathers”, a successful studio singer, was always singing around the house, and his mother, a store writer, learnt guitar in “schools “. Teicher started drumming at 8. Then he saw some chaps tap dancing on a TV aptitude establish.

“It just made sense, ” he says. “I heard it in the way that I examine percussion.”

He participated an all-boys beginner tap class at the Northern Westchester Center for the Artwork, about 30 hours from home in Mahopac, New York. Picking up information materials felt immediately familiar to the young drummer: “I wasn’t battling the idea of tempo, ” he says. “It was just about load deepens. And coordinating.”

Teicher obliged his first solo only six months after starting lessons. “I would reflect on the steps I learned during class by making my own little combos and exercises. My own little ditties.”

At 13, Teicher learnt David Rider, whom he calls the most remarkable teacher he’s ever filled. “He’d say, ‘This is Jimmy Slyde month and we’re going to watch a different Jimmy Slyde clip at the beginning of each lesson, ‘ ” Teicher echoes.

The way that Rider integrated sound record cured Teicher understand how his dancing fit in the lineage of sound and jazz dance. As a grey male, parallels to Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were encouraged at an early age, but Teicher find more muse from mythical dancers, like Slyde and Ann Miller, and modern-day huges Michelle Dorrance, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Jason Samuels Smith and Ayodele Casel. “And Dianne Walker! Absolutely my favourite tap dancer, still to this day. Her dancing is like a warm hug, ” says Teicher.

Both Rider and, later, Dorrance, his director-cum-mentor, been confirmed by him that biography questions. “The African-American legacy of this dance should be reputation, even while pushing boundaries, ” he says.


He first fill Dorrance during his teenage years in fair concerts. At 17, he moved to New York City and started going to see her 7:30 pm sound class at Broadway Dance Center. Dorrance told him, “I’m going to put you in everything! ” And she did.

After five years of dancing with Dorrance and gaining or producing numerous knowledge outside of tap as he could, Teicher propelled his own troupe, Caleb Teicher& Company, when he was only 22. “I love sharing what I do with people–the seeing of it, the performing of it, the experience of it, ” he says. “It is my small-scale nature of an attempt to compile the nations of the world I want to live in.”

His company plays tap, vernacular jazz, Lindy hop and a mix of other dance vogues, taking historically American dance anatomies in modern-day directions–whether Teicher’s tap dancing in heels or making a 25 -minute swing dance duet with his friend Nathan Bugh to Ella Fitzgerald adoration vocals.

Gender is undeniably in focus. Nonetheless, it is broached through the lens of an creator who is less concerned with pushing society’s frontiers and more with broadening his own.

“I try not to make decisions simply because they will be insurgent, because they won’t be incendiary very long, ” he says. “Tap, jazz and swing dance are words which naturally enforce present-day narrations such as diversity, inclusivity and equality.” He promotes his dancers to be their distinct selves so long as they are sonically mingled. “It’s more like a jazz band, ” he explains.


His open, inquisitive outlook is epidemic. “Caleb’s confidence moves him generous and open and changeable, ” says Conrad Tao, the composer/ pianist who collaborated with Teicher on last season’sMore Forever. “That’s why people want to work with him. He gives people a sense that he can pull it off.”

Yet despite early success, he’s ever up for trying something new. “Caleb is freakishly free of hang-ups and judgment, ” says Ben Folds. “That’s rare. He’s not overly precious, yet he inclines towards something distinct each step of the way.”

Teicher carefully calibrates risks–pushing himself to do brand-new things within certain known, safe constants. He might be dancing on merely a shred of theatre in front of a full orchestra at the Kennedy Center, performing an hour-long improvised duo with percussive dancer Nic Gareiss or setting his company’s Fall for Dance commission to the accompaniment of beatboxer Chris Celiz. Part of his safety zone is working with musicians because they speak the same language: music.

As his corporation gets more commissions, Teicher now notices himself extending a small business. “Dancing in my job and doing it at a particular level is one challenge, ” he says. “Making the labor, and preserving the work at that rank is another. And then there’s putting together paperwork, schedules, and all the money, season and power of organizing a full time of performances–it’s a very different thing.”


This season, he will embark on his biggest project yet: Fluctuating 2020, two weeks of recitals at The Joyce Theater with 12 dancers and a 10 -piece large-hearted party. He is evoked to collaborate with a brain trust of swing dancers on the project: Nathan Bugh, Evita Arce, LaTasha Barnes.

The team wants to show what swaying dance is today: respectful of the past, hopeful for the present and demanding of the future. Not unlike Teicher himself.

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