“I assembled a group of superheroes who would shine their power into the space.”

But even superheroes have to work hard. Casel sent the cast videos of her vision for certain pieces in the show, and they learned the choreography on their own. When they were finally able to rehearse together, sparks flew. “It came together so fast and I think in a way maybe that is also what contributed to capturing lightning in a bottle,” said Casel.

Not long after the virtual work’s March debut, the A.R.T. expressed interest in a live version. For the past few months, Casel, Beard, and the cast have been fine-tuning in New York, adjusting to the theater as it is during COVID-19 — testing regularly and rehearsing with masks. They’ve also been tweaking the performance for a live audience.


Now that she has the floor

Tap dancer Ayodele Casel swings into the spotlight — and brings her predecessors with her

“Torya and I have been working on transitions and what those look like, which is kind of exciting because it allows us to give more context to what you are about to see,” said Casel. “It has been nice to discover that in the room together.”

Born in New York, Casel, who was the 2018‒2019 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, spent several years in Puerto Rico as a child before moving back to the Bronx. Making the transition from English to Spanish and back to English challenged her ability to express herself, she says. When she found tap as a creative outlet, she realized people were listening without her having to say a word. In her current work, Casel hopes to express gratitude to audience members and encourage them to connect.

“I want all of us to be continually inspired by the connection with other people, to appreciate it and to lean into it,” said Casel. “I just feel like life is long, but can also be very short, and while we are here, we need to just really lean fully into our relationships and our instincts and to live without hesitation.”