DUELING SHOES
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New Book: The Akonting: Banjo Ancestor
Music Video about Ekonting
The Akonting-Poem Performance about History of the Banjo
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Dueling Shoes is a Southern Appalachian percussive dance quartet, performing a wide variety of high energy, upbeat and exciting step dance routines with unique rhythms and done both a cappella and to traditional old time music. Our style is deeply rooted in the traditions of Southern Appalachian Mountain flatfooting and buckdancing and complimented by clogging, tap and more contemporary and innovative styles.  We use percussive dance in creative ways to explore rhythmic complexities and provide highy entertaining performances for our audiences.
 
Our exceptionally skilled and experienced musicians create a wonderful variety of old time tunes for our dance performances.  This is the kind of down home music, with roots going back hundreds of years, that 'gets in your bones' and surprises audiences.  With influences from Ireland, Scotland, England, Africa and Native America, this music makes people feel unusually happy, lighthearted, energtic and like tapping their feet and getting up to dance.  It's irresistable!  That's why we dance to it!  The percussive dance rhythms we create are designed to complement and 'fit' with the music, producing a wonderfully rich sound experience. 
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Dueling Shoes honors and celebrates the roots of our dance form in special routines that acknowledge, honor and pay tribute to the ancestors of this American born dance style. Our solo, duet and quartet dances demonstrate a wide variety of rhythmic, often playful and visually pleasing dance routines that get audiences excited, often up on their feet, and always smiling.

"This is a new and rapidly evolving, creative and talented group of dancers and performers with highly diverse backgrounds in music, dance and rhythm. They...showcase a highly entertaining, innovative, percussive dance repertoire. Their energy, enthusiasm and skill creates a happy, memorable experience for their audiences." From The 2003 Showcase of the Stars, Allure Promotions, Raleigh, NC

In the Beginning:  Dueling Shoes began as a two person dance team in 2002 and was founded by Steve Levitt and Jaso Phillips.  Our debut performance occurred at the 2002 Dog and Pony Theater Company's production of Beach Blanket PEEP, Manbites Dog Theater, Durham, NC.  This was a rousing success and inspired the creation of additional dance routines.  As new routines evolved, a decision was made to expand the group to four dancers to allow for more lattitude in what we could offer.  Heather Hartzog and Joan Levitt joined the group in the beginning of 2003 and the rest is history.  We have been performing for various benefits, festivals and events ever since. 

Invitations:  Dueling Shoes was invited to perform as Special Guests for "The Stillhouse Bottom Band-In Concert", Carrboro ArtsCenter, Carrboro, NC.  We were also invited to perform at "The Showcase of the Stars" - Allure Promotions, Professional Dance Show and Charity Event, Raleigh, NC.  Benefits that we have recently been invited to include: "Dancing Around the World" - Arthur Murray Annual Studio Showcase to Benefit Starlight Children's Foundation, Raleigh, NC; "Benefit Festival for the Children of Safe Passage", Chapel Hill, NC; and "Concerts for Peaceful Tomorrows", Chapel Hill, NC. 

Dance Theater:  We recently created a one hour original dance theater comedy entitled "T'was the Night Before Christmas: A Dance Comedy" performed as a benefit for the Carrboro ArtsCenter's 30th Anniversay, Carrboro, NC.  Yes, there was plenty of acting and lots of laughs.

Our Guests:  During our 2004 performance at the 25th Annual Festival for the Eno, Durham, NC sponsored by the Eno River Association we invited and were joined by "The Tomato Cage Dancers." They are a dance quartet of four, life size mannequins that had their debut performance.  The crowd loved them and the square dance they did with us was awesome.  What a blast!  They danced with us again at the Phoenix World Burn Congress, University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, NCOnce again, they were a real crowd pleaser! 

 

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Tribute:  The audience also loved our music and dance tribute to Mr. Joe Thompson.  Mr. Thompson is, to our knowledge, the oldest actively performing African-American old time fiddle player in North Carolina.  We combined West African drumming with fiddle and banjo to create a wonderfully rich and rhythmic musical foundation for the dancers.  The crowd loved it!

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Teaching and Calling: We can teach percussive dance and call square dances, circle dances, the Virginia Reel and others as part of an interactive experience for our audiences.  

Our band: Seasoned musicians who play a wide variety of old time tunes that are wonderful both to dance to and for listening pleasure.  This kind of music gets in your bones, and it's hard to sit still! 

Important Update:

Availability:  We are currently scheduling dance performances.  Contact Steve Levitt at www.earthlink.net

We are also currently offering a music, song and dance solo performance by Steve Levitt focusing on the West African Akonting and teaching about the West African roots of the American banjo.  This is a multi-instrument performance (clawhammer banjo, West African drums, Akonting, fiddle, bones, hambone, percussive dance) of the poem "From Africa to Bluegrass Sound, Let the Strings Akonting Resound."  This is followed by songs, with audience participation, from West Africa and songs derived from slave plantations in America. 

We are not currently scheduling performances of the program "Journey To The Mountain-A Roots Tale."

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