Summer is finally drawing to a close; there’s a freshness in the air and the sun’s warmth is waning, but what an incredible summer it’s been. This summer has been a summer of tap. I’ve had the opportunity to take class with some incredible artists, hone my skills, and immerse myself in this art form that I love.
My journey to this summer of tap started last autumn when I was fresh back from my first Teacher Training Intensive with the American Tap Dance Foundation. I enjoyed my time with them in New York so much, and was getting stuck into my year of assignments mentored by the ever great Barbara Duffy, that when the notification of next year’s level two popped up, my brain would not leave the idea alone.
Then a week or so later I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when Hillary Marie cropped up announcing a very special 10th anniversary edition of Jersey Tap Fest with audition-only entry and a plan was born. I would apply to both and if I got in, well then, here’s to tappin’.
By some miracle I got into Jersey Tap Fest, it started 9 days after the intensive week of the ATDF level 2 training, plenty of time for me to indulge in the wonders of something I had to be in New York for: The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
And so my summer of tap was all set up, three glorious weeks of tap, tap, tapping the boards of various dance studios across New York and New Jersey. I took class with: Margaret Morrison, Susan Hebach, Thelma Goldberg, Toni Noblett, Lisa La Touche, Karen Calloway Williams, Brenda Bufalino, and rehearsal with Barbara Duffy at the ATDF. I went to Steps on Broadway and ATDF adult classes and took a number of classes with the incredible Lynn Schwab, whose ear for the dance is really something to behold. Then I headed to New Jersey and took class with Bril Barrett, Claudia Rahardjanoto, Anthony Morigerato and of course Hillary Marie.
The time between my teacher training and Jersey Tap Fest flew by in a flurry of classes at Steps, but more importantly at the library. Goodness, if I lived in New York I would be there all the time. I spent hour upon hour at the library, watching videos, reading articles and listening to oral histories. I became engrossed in the history. I was there primarily to learn about two dancers: Eddie Rector and Leon Collins-so expect to find out more about them in future posts. I spent hours and hours just on those two, so you can imagine the wealth of materials covering tap as a whole. I guess you could spend years in there and never get through it all. If you’re passionate about tap and find yourself with some hours to kill in New York, you could do far worse than spending them at the Performing Arts Library!
This summer has been wonderful. I’ve learned technique, I’ve learned choreography but more than anything else I’ve learned to be grateful for all the opportunities and people the dance has connected me with. As an ‘oldie’ still progressing in the dance I often feel disheartened, the up-and-coming generation have so many more resources given to them, which just weren’t available when I was their age. I often feel like the bumbling fool at the back of class and I do wish there were more opportunities for my age who are technically proficient but perhaps take that little bit longer to get things in their feet. But I am grateful, because the dance gives me so much back, and this summer I have learned that even if I am not the best dancer out there, I still have something very valid to give back to the dance.