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Divine Rhythm News

Jul 7, 2008



-Jason Samuels Smith, Chloe Arnold, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards perform/teach at Tap City (www.atdf.org)
-Jason Samuels Smith performs for DRA’s Fire Island Dance Festival
-LA TAP FEST FACULTY PUBLISHED…register today (www.latapfest.com)


-Free at the Bronx Museum: “Harlem on My Mind:A Celebration of Jazz, Swing, and Tap Jams”
-2008 Black Docs Film Series Presents...Africa Unite: A Tribute To Bob Marley's Vision
-Jazz Cruises are back!


- Barack Obama Fundraiser Concert
- Message from Stacie Hawkins
- News from St. Louis Tap Festival
- News from CHRP’s Rhythm World


- Tap Class with Sarah Reich


-News from Rennes Tap Festival
-ITA updates and subscription info
-Roxane Butterfly Tap Boots for sale!
-Article on Roxane Butterfly in Dancer Magazine


Tap City, The New York City Tap Festival
July 5th - 11th, 2008   
Premiere Performances

Tap Forward   
Tuesday, July 8 (8:00 pm)

An evening of contemporary choreography created by leading choreographers for cutting edge ensembles including Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, Barbara Duffy & Company, Walter Freeman, Acia Gray, Derick K. Grant, Josh Hilberman, Jason Janas, Kazu Kumagai, Michela Marino-Lerman, Margaret Morrison, Carson Murphy, Andrew Nemr & Cats Paying Dues PLUS, Jason Samuels Smith, Tapestry Dance Company, Josette C. Wiggan, Zen & others!

The annual HOOFER AWARDS will be presented to tap dancers extraordinaire Tina Pratt and Derick K. Grant and the TAP PRESERVATION AWARD will be presented to teacher, historian and Professor Ann Kilkelly.
Youth & Adult Showcases    
Wednesday, July 9 (3:00 pm - Youth)
Wednesday, July 9 (8:00 pm - Adult)

Youth Showcase:
An opportunity for Tap City students in the Youth & Pre-Professional Program to share their talents. Featuring new works choreographed by Josh Hilberman, Chloe Arnold, & Karen Callaway Williams. Includes Student Awards Ceremony.

Adult Showcase:
An opportunity for adult students to share their talents. From emerging ensembles to choreography learned during four day tap residencies this community event promotes continuing rhythmic education at any age! Featuring works choreographed by "Brownie" Brown, Ayodele Casel, Barbara Duffy, Derick K. Grant, & Jared Grimes.
Tap Youth / Tap Future   
Thursday, July 10 (8:00 pm)

Performances by kids, teens and youth ensembles from across the nation. Performances by the Tap City Pre-Professional Program with choreography by Heather Cornell and Jason Janas. Hosted by Tap City's Youth Program Director Michele Ribble. The 5th annual TAP TEACHER AWARDS will be presented.

Tap & Song   
Friday, July 11 (8:00 pm)

Tony Waag and friends take us on a rhythmic romp celebrating traditional vaudeville, comedy and classic song and dance. Performers include Brenda Bufalino, C3 Tap Cooperative, DeWitt Fleming, Acia Gray, Jared Grimes, Susan Hebach, Jason Janas, Kendrick Jones, Ann Kilkelly, Mable Lee and her Dancing Ladies, Reggio McLaughlin, Konstantin Nevretdinov, Sarah Petronio, Claudia Rahardjanoto, Max Pollak's Rumba Tap, Mathew Sheilds, Hank Smith, Melinda Sullivan, the Tap City Youth Ensemble, Tapestry Dance Company, Tony Waag, Karen Callaway Williams and others.

Tap legends Ernest "Brownie" Brown (Cook and Brown), Harold Cromer (Stump and Stumpy) Mable Lee, and Dr. Jimmy Slyde will be inducted into the INTERNATIONAL TAP DANCE HALL OF FAME.
Ticket Information   
All performances will be presented at:

2537 Broadway at 95th Street

Premiere Performance Tickets:
General $45
Children under 12, Symphony Space Member, College Student & Senior: $23

Showcase Tickets:
General $20; Children under 12, Symphony Space Member, College Student & Senior: $10

*NOTE: Reduced rate tickets available by phone or at box office window only

Box Office: 212-864-5400
Hours: Tues - Sun from 11am until 7pm
Or visit: www.symphonyspace.org

The American Tap Dance Foundation, Inc. would like to thank the following for their generous support: Our Anonymous Angel, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, the Tsunami Foundation, the Heckscher Foundation for Children, the Beatrice Snyder Foundation, Leo's Dancewear, Capezio, the American Chai Trust, an Anonymous Foundation, and numerous individuals, friends and families.
Please VISIT www.atdf.org for more information.

Jason Samuels Smith will be performing at:



FIRE ISLAND, N.Y. The Fire Island Dance Festival returns to Fire Island Pines for a trio of outdoor party/performances on Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20, 2008. Now in its 14th year, FIDF is produced by and benefits Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA), a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Performing outdoors against a backdrop of the Great South Bay, FIDF 14 will feature an eclectic program of classical and contemporary ballet, modern dance, tap and hip hop performed by eleven emerging and world renowned dance companies. World premiere dances will be presented by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Jermaine Browne, Parsons Dance, Jason Samuels Smith and Tony AwardÒ choreographer Jerry Mitchell for Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance as well as repertory pieces from Jacoby & Pronk, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Jennifer Muller / The Works, and Ellis Wood Dance.

Saturday’s emcee is Whoopi Goldberg, host of this year’s Tony AwardsÒ, moderator of ABC TV’s “The View,” and - as producer, actress, singer, writer and comedienne - one of the few individuals to have won all four of the major show business awards: the Oscar, the Tony, the Emmy, and the Grammy. Sunday’s emcee is comedy club favorite Caroline Rhea original host of TV’s “The Biggest Loser”. An accomplished actress, Rhea has had featured roles in both film (‘The Perfect Man,” “Man on the Moon”) and television (”Sabrina, The Teenage Witch,” Lifetime’s “Fat Like Me”).

Dancegoers are offered a choice of show times. The opening performance is on Saturday, July 19 at 5:00 p.m. (party at 4:00 p.m.). The sunset performance is on Saturday, July 19 at 7:00 p.m. (party following). And the closing performance is on Sunday, July 20 at 5:00 p.m. (party following). Leadership Sponsors are included in the special kick-off celebration on Friday evening July 18h at Whyte Hall, the Fire Island Pines Community Center.
To charge tickets by phone, call 212.840.0770 x268 - Monday through Friday, and on weekends at the Pines harbor or order online at www.dradance.org
Corporate Sponsors for Fire Island Dance Festival 13 include: The New York Times, Continental Airlines, GRW Advertising, NEXT Magazine, PEEQ, EMR Systems, BV Vineyards, Movmnt, and Passport Magazine
Community Sponsors for Fire Island Dance Festival 13 include: Fire Island News, Fire Island Pines Property Owners’ Association, John Joseph Designs, Pines Pantry, Pines Pizza and Martini Bar, Sayville Ferry Service, and Tony’s Barge.
Twice hailed by Sunday Styles of The New York Times as “One of the 12 best parties of the year,” the Fire Island Dance Festival has since 1995 raised over $1 million in the fight against AIDS.

The ongoing, committed response of the American dance community to an urgent worldwide health crisis, DRA is a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), the nation’s leading industry-based AIDS funding and grant-making organization. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the dance community, DRA raises funds for AIDS-related service providers across the United States. Funds are distributed to seven programs of the Actors’ Fund of America and as grants to over 500 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide. Since its founding in 1988, BC/EFA has distributed over $140 million for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV, or HIV-related illnesses.
# # # #

Debbie Allen Dance Academy presents...
August 4-9th, 2008
Faculty and Schedule Published...

This Year We've added more exciting classes

-Beg, Int,Int/Adv., Adv levels
-Adult Beg Evening Classes daily
-4-7 year old program
-Repertory Courses
Schedule online...www.latapfest.com

This Year's amazing Faculty -
Debbie Allen - Founder, Jason Samuels Smith - Director, Chloe Arnold - Co-Director, Arthur Duncan, Harold Cromer, Dianne Walker, Derrick Grant, Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards, Ted Levy, Michelle Dorrance, Tre Dumas III, Jared Grimes, Josette Wiggan, Arlen Kennedy, Denise Sheerer, Ivory Wheeler, Steve Zee, Nicole Nicholas, Maud Arnold, Lee Howard, Sarah Reich, Chantel Heath.

Plus electives - in African, Hip Hop, Flamenco, and Jazz

Nightly Events - Jam Session, Business of Showbiz, Cutting Contest, Panel Discussion, Student Showcase

Saturday, 9th - Concert - 7pm @ Norman J. Pattiz Concert Hall
Tickets on sale now @ 310.280.9145





“Harlem on My Mind:
A Celebration of Jazz, Swing, and Tap Jams”


WHAT: For the Bronx Museum’s First Fridays! program, “Harlem on My Mind: A Celebration of Jazz, Swing, and Tap Jams,” the sounds of the Ray Abrams Big Swing Band – a powerful 17 piece group continuing the tradition of great jazz music created by the bands of Count Basie and Duke Ellington – will surely “swing” you into motion. The event will also feature a tap and swing performance by the great young dancers of Hoofer’s House.
Please note: Due to the July 4th holiday, this event will take place the second week in July.
For more information, and a complete schedule of upcoming First Friday events, please visit www.bronxmuseum.org/programs/firstfridays.html

WHO: Featuring the Ray Abrams Big Swing Band, lead jazz vocalist Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch, and dancers from Hoofer’s House.

The event will be hosted by Rashida Bumbray from Hoofer’s House.

WHEN: Friday, July 11, 6:00 – 10:00pm

WHERE: The Bronx Museum of the Arts
South Wing – Lower Gallery
1040 Grand Concourse @ 165th Street
Bronx, NY 10456

CONTACT: Camille Wanliss, Director of Marketing, (718) 681-6000, ext.120 or
Hey, everyone:
Kind of unbelievable how quickly things happen, but our tap group has an amazing list of activities lined up for the summer that I thought you might be interested in.
We'll be performing at Symphony Space in 2 weeks (dancing to Charlie Parker's Billie's Bounce with an amazing trio and the phenomenal sax player Jon Irabagon) and maybe even more exciting, we'll be hosting a FREE tap jam in Washington Square Park on Saturday, August 16. (more info below)
If you're around at all, I hope you'll be able to come out and get some tap in your life!! And if you have dusty tap shoes hiding in your closet (you know who you are!) I think it might be time to pull them out and join the fun.
Hope you all had a great weekend!
See you soon,

Pass the word to all relevant sources, persons and organizations!!!
Tentative Celebrity Family Guest TBA
2008 Black Docs Film Series Presents...
Africa Unite: A Tribute To Bob Marley's Vision
AFRICA UNITE is a singular and masterfully executed film that is at once a humanitarian documentary, Marley family travelogue, and concert tribute, igniting the screen with reggae icon BOB MARLEY in its every frame. In commemoration of Bobs 60th birthday, Africa Unite is centered on the Marleys first-time-ever family trip to Ethiopia in 2005. Includes rare footage of the legendary reggae icon Bob Marley.

Historians, Celebrities and Notable Guests

Film Submission Deadlines
. Health and Wellness Film Festival ~ September 1st
. 6th Annual Black History Month Film & Discussion Series ~ December 1st
. Exclusive Screenings and Marketing Assistance ~ Year-Round
Submission Details and Instructions
. Packaging. Submit press packets with submissions or provide a 1-page detailed description of your submission with vitae. Include a self-addressed and stamped return package (if return required). Films still in our receipt are still under consideration for programming.
. Media. Film and video entries must be on DVD (if DVD avialable) ~ DVD Copies Must Be Available for Screenings, unless otherwise agreed. For 2008, shorts, features, documentaries, videos, and children's films are encouraged.
. Fees. Please include a money order or cashier's check for the $20 processing fee with your entry; $35 if submitting for multiple programs; an additional $10 late fee will apply for packages postmarked after respective deadlines. Must be made out to "Next Generation Awareness Foundation."
. Send all submissions to: _Project Coordinator _{Name of the Series -or- "2008 Programs" if Submitting for All Programs} _Next Generation Awareness Foundation, Inc. _P.O. Box 6885 _Alexandria, Virginia 22306 __Phone: 202-409-7240 __Email: UrbanFilmSeries (at) hotmail.com (if with attachments) _Info (at) UrbanFilmSeries.com (if without attachments)


The 2008 Smooth Cruises returned for their 9th year aboard The Spirit of New York cruise ship on Wednesday, June 25 with 2 SOLD OUT performances by Guitars & Saxes. Cruise goers and jazz buffs enjoyed a beautiful summer night on the Hudson River!

This unique "floating jazz club" features LIVE, intimate performances with the world's best jazz artists and the breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty over seven consecutive Wednesday evenings July 16 through August 27. Dinner and beverages are also available to make for a complete and thoroughly enjoyable night.

The Smooth Cruise series sets sail again Wednesday, July 16 with Down to the Bone's last show featuring legendary saxophonist Shilts with a Sunset Cruise performance at 6:30 p.m. and a Moonlight Cruise performance at 9:30 p.m. The Smooth Jazz Cruises aboard The Spirit of New York leave Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers at 23rd Street in Manhattan.

All tickets $55.00

Wednesday, July 16th
Down To The Bone
featuring Shilts

Wednesday, July 23rd
Brian Culbertson

Wednesday, July 30th
Spyro Gyra

Wednesday, August 6th
Marion Meadows
& Alex Bugnon

Wednesday, August 13th
Phil Perry

Wednesday, August 20th
featuring Rick Braun and Richard Elliot

Wednesday, August 27th
Pieces of A Dream

The Smooth Cruises sell out fast. So get your tickets now. For tickets and more information log onto www.SmoothJazzNewYork.com Hot summer nights. New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty. Cool drinks & delicious food --- all combined with great jazz LIVE IN CONCERT.

See video footage from last year's cruises


Event Information
Rockin' 4 Barack

Alhambra Palace
Friday, Jul 18, 2008 8:00 PM

Doors Open @ 7PM
Showtime @ 8PM
21 & Over Only with Valid ID
Trendy, Sophisticated Attire Required
(More Info)

Event Pricing
GA Standing Only GA - $35.00
Table FLOOR - $75.00
VIP Advanced VIP - $125.00

Message from Stacie Hawkins:
Hey everyone,

Just wanted to let you all know that I am back in Chicago for the summer. Chris Griffin, still photographer for Miss Thang, is producing a new television series and I am acting as Associate Producer/Production Manager. The show is called Midnite Screams and is a horror host show in the vein of Svengoolie, Elvira, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. If anyone knows of any independent filmmakers with a finished horror or thriller film with or without distribution, please let me know so we can try to get their films on our show. The website is www.midnitescreams.com.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Stacie E. Hawkins
The Rise & Fall of Miss Thang
Master Workshops with

Robin Reed
Robert Reed III

Centene Center
for Arts & Education
3547 Olive Street_St. Louis, MO 63103-1014
_Saturday - July 5, 2008

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
$30 Per Class!
Call 314-531-TAPS (8277)
or email info@tapheritage.org
for details
Auditions for
St. Louis Hoofer's Club at 2:00 PM   
*Contact for other upcoming events and auditions...

Register Now for...
The 17th Annual
St. Louis Tap Festival!!!

Celebrating International Rhythm!
Remembering Dr. Jimmy Slyde
Master Classes * Tap Jam
Panel Discussion
Participant's Showcase

July 21 - July 26, 2008

Discount Hotel reservations only available until June 20!

Download Registration Form from the website:

World Class Faculty! www.tapheritage.org for more details!

The 17th Annual St. Louis Tap Festival is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jimmy Slyde
Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Rhythm World Summer Festival July 21 - August 3
Dianne Walker & Derick Grant, Co-Directors   
CHRP celebrates the 18th year of Rhythm World, the oldest and largest tap festival in the world!

Held at the Chicago Cultural Center (July 21-July 25) and Loyola University (July 28-August 3), this year's festival celebrates the legacy of three great Chicago tap icons: Leon Collins, Sammy Dyer and Tommy Sutton.

Once again, the festival features a number of excellent programs designed to provide the best educational experience for the over 400 students that attend each year (click to learn more):

Intensive Residencies, Courses, After-Work Adult Courses, Workshops, Master Classes, the 7th annual Youth Tap Ensemble Conference, the Adult/University Tap Conference and our Kids Program.

In addition, the festival also features several performance and competition events:

Opening Night Celebration at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion
Tap Slam & Cutting Contest (students square off in competitions)
Faculty Panel Discussion (about the current state of tap dance)
Student Showcase (featuring the amazing student body)

Of course, the week culminates in our annual JUBA concerts, featuring the faculty and youth tap ensembles of the festival over three days of amazing concerts.

The festival offers something for everyone, from talented students to tap enthusiasts, chaperones and even the casual observer. We hope to see you there!
Help CHRP Bring the Tap World to Chicago   
Chicago Human Rhythm Project strives to bring tap and percussive arts masters from around the world to Chicago to teach, perform and share their love of the art form.

This year's international guests include 2008 Artist In Residence Guillem Alonso and Brazilian body band Barbatuques, just to name a few.

With the ever-rising price of gasoline, airline fares have skyrocketed and CHRP has been affected by this new trend.

Therefore, we hope you'll consider donating your unused American Airlines miles to our organization. Your support will provide remarkable assistance in bringing international artists to Chicago. If you are interested in donating unused miles, please contact our offices at 773-281-1825 and we will quickly guide you through the process.
Chicago Anniversaries June 14 & 22, 2008   
Chicago celebrated the anniversaries of two Chicago tap instutitions during the month of June.

First, the Mayfair Academy presented their 50th Annual Recital "Mayfair: A Chicago Legacy" at the Arie Crown Theater on June 14. 50 years ago, Mr. Tommy Sutton established the Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts on Chicago's South side, beginning a new era in his career and the development of one of the finest schools in the City dedicated to the best dance training possible for the children of his community.

Second, the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre celebrated their 75th anniversary at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park on Sunday, June 22. Established in May 1933 by Mr. Sammy Dyer, the school promotes the progress of creativity and education in the performing arts and assists children in receiving quality instruction in technique and dance appreciation.

Both Mr. Sutton and Mr. Dyer are being honored at our annual JUBA concerts, August 1-3 at Loyola University. Please help us congratulate both the Mayfair Academy and the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre on their amazing milestones. Through their many years of dedication in Chicago, they have provided the framework for much of CHRP's success.
Register for Rhythm World
Classes are filling up....reserve your spot!

Click here for more information
Click here to register online
Book your accommodations here
*Festival rooms now available at the Evanston Best Western*
JUBALEE Tap Into The Night!   
The Board and staff of Chicago Human Rhythm Project have once again began preparations for our annual gala fundraiser, JUBALEE Tap Into the Night!

The gala will be held on November 10, 2008, just a few weeks before our Global Rhythms series at the Harris Theater. The night will feature a live and silent auction, fabulous food and drinks, and a performance featuring Guillem Alonso, CHRP scholarship students, and more.

Our new Gala Co-chairs, Donna LaPietra, Bill Kurtis, Irene Michaels and Arny Granat helped CHRP kick off the Gala season on May 21 at the Vittum Theatre with a cultivation event. Nearly 100 guests enjoyed a captivating performance featuring the best of CHRP as well as pre and post-show receptions. We love the opportunity to share our mission with new audiences and are thrilled that the evening was such a success.

Check back soon for more information on our 2008 Gala!



Thursday, July 24, 2008

Orange County Dance Center
5872 Edinger Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

8:30- 10:00 pm
ONLY $10.00!!!

Sarah Reich is exploding onto the scene as a young professional, having spent the past four years assisting tap legend Harold Cromer at numerous festivals, including Tap City, St. Louis Tap Festival, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Los Angeles Tap Festival, and Tap Into A Cure. Sarah is now becoming a tap festival teacher on her own, including festivals in Limoges, France and Edmonton, Canada. She has studied with, among others, Alfred Desio, Cyd Glover and Paul & Arlene Kennedy, has been a member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble’s Caravan Project, is a current member of Jason Samuels Smith’s “Anybody Can Get It” company, Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies, and serves as the Dance Captain for the LA Ironworks Youth Company as well as contributing choreography for the group. Sarah has performed at many venues around Los Angeles including the Getty Museum, the Ford Amphitheatre, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Madrid Theatre, the Temple Bar, the African Market Place and was asked to dance for promotional events for the movie Happy Feet. She is featured on two instructional tap DVD’s with Mike Wittmers. Sarah was featured in an article titled “20 Hot Tappers Under 20” in Dance Spirit Magazine and received an award for Performing Artist of The Year at the 2005 OMNI Awards.


Last call !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rennes Tap Intensive is starting in a few days …All details in the attachment. (or if you want the French version, check our website www.tapbreizh.net)

All about the Rennes Tap Intensive with Heather Cornell, Leela Petronio, Isabelle Girault for tap and/or body percussion, Julien Vasnier for rhythms, Julien Fihey for African drums.

And all about our jams, and the Tap Breizh 10th anniversary tap session !

We’ll be glad to welcome you,

All the best,

Christophe Ligeron
Tap Breizh
ITA rep for France

Hello ITA Members,

Attached is our fourth online issue of the time-sensitive portions of On Tap as we work behind the scenes on our new Website. We encourage you to take some time to look through the companion On Tap Online Ad Supplement. We hope you enjoy it!

Marda Kirn

To sign up for ON TAP, visit: http://www.tapdance.org/tap/ita/

Custom made!
Leather that lasts, ankle protection, double-soles... No more tendonites, arch failures nor changing shoes 4 times a year...And your orthodics will fit!

''I have spent the last seven years going from one shoe-maker to the next, trying to find a way to better protect my feet until I decided to create my own model. I wanted a ''tool'' that looked elegant, sounded good, felt light and could endure my daily hours of practice. I finally found the ideal shoes.'' _Roxane Butterfly

cost: 240 euros / $370 (+ airmail expenses)
delay: 2 to 3 weeks
to order: scan a drawing of your feet to transeurotap@hotmail.fr
paiement: by wire transfer
to request an order: email transeurotap@hotmail.fr


Roxane Butterfly and World Dance
by Carrie Stern — Jun 27, 2008

INTRODUCTION Her mentor, master tapper Jimmy Slyde who died on May 16, dubbed her "Papillon (butterfly) because…she flies!” She’s also called a “maverick in her field.” A 2006 Guggenheim choreography Fellow, Roxane Butterfly is the only woman tap-dancer to receive a New York Bessie Award (Outstanding Creative Achievement, 1999). Not shy with her opinions, Butterfly the activist participated in a peace tour with Palestinian and Israeli performers.
Born in the south of France, her Mediterranean town of Toulon was a crossroads. Five blocks from the port, American sailors, European military, and immigrants from Viet Nam, Senegal and Morocco, packed the market where her parents had a craft-wares store. Roxane grew-up inside this cultural whirlwind.
Her unorthodox tap training—her first teacher in France didn’t know you were supposed to tap with heels as well as toes—augmented by sports as a teen, gives her dancing a unique character.
After touring the world with her all women dance-music show—"BeauteeZ'n The Beat"—Butterfly recently launched a new show—"Djellaba Groove," named for the rhythms of the Near Eastern countries she heard growing up. By her own account, no longer an “emerging artist” but not yet an “elder,” in a several-hour conversation we explored what lead to her life in tap and her current thinking about her art.

This picture says a lot about life as a female hoofer....NYC Photo by Leslie Lyons
What inspired you to combine tap with world music? I’m from France. I’m not black. I needed to understand my attraction to jazz, to tap, to the black culture that comes with it. I left France when I was 18 because I felt different, and I haven’t always felt accepted in tap.
I needed to find my roots. My mother is Moroccan, my father Swiss, and in some ways I’m more American than I am French. Being in New York allowed me to be everything I am, but it’s not my roots. I found them in my old neighborhood - in the Arab and Egyptian music I heard when I was young.
Tell me about your choreographic process? I don’t have a space. I have 2 pieces of plywood I dance on. I construct everything doing mathematics. I choreograph in place what will move across the floor. Final decisions wait until musicians and dancers are together in the theatre, sometimes on the day of the show. Then we unfold our wings.
I had an accident. Not being able to dance triggered thoughts about what I’ll do when I can’t perform. I tried to imagine what people see, what makes up my language, what defines my dancing as me. I realized I dance to what my body retains of rhythm. Choreography is a long process. I’m an improviser so it’s frustrating to set things I can dance a million ways. I spent 2 months choreographing the movement of the head for my first piece - so many options.
Recently, I decided to choreograph less familiar, traditional music, new rhythms, things I’ve never danced to. I discovered that if I created different, simple, rhythmic patterns for several dancers, together we replicated the polyrhythms of the music. Some patterns are very structured; rhythms, steps, patterns are set. But the melody, the relationships are open, improvised.
Jazz musicians mostly read music, but ethnic musicians often don’t. I work alone with the musicians helping them learn how to react to my body moves. The more we set, the more we may mess up. This structure allows both precision and freedom. [See David Michalek’s "Slow Motion "]
How much input or freedom do your dancers have within the choreography? The choreography has to leave room for improvisation, for the dancers to dance like themselves. Tap is individual, not mimetic. I want you to show your personality. What I spend time on with the dancers and the musicians is interpretation. Is the movement cold, hot, blue, green, a frame for the action. I set the mood, the time of day, then I let them trip.
How has working with world music changed or influenced your tapping? It’s like being a kid, a rediscovery. I’ve gained knowledge, authorized myself to break the rules. I studied ancient Andalusia music in Morocco. The musicians told me to study flamenco. It’s foreign, but I can see how it informs my tap. Flamenco’s like tap, not because of pounding the floor, but because of its relationship to music, to improvisation, because you make music with your body. I became more and more interested in it. I lived there so I could study real flamenco. When I went back to tap things had shifted, my skills were enhanced, I danced and taught differently. I don’t use my heel the same. I use more silence, more stop-and-go. In jazz you always arrive at the 32nd bar, but in flamenco it’s not set, instead you guide with your energy.
Collaborating with Moroccans and Nigerians, learning how to work with their rhythms, I realized that this is the first time in my life I can really hear music. I’ve been experimenting with trance dance music from Morocco, flamenco rhythms, mostly in 12. I’m dancing to 7s and 4s—rhumba, Gitano (gypsy) music, tango, bolero. Flamenco has palmas, clapping patterns with accents in different places. I’m introducing those subdivisions into my rhythm spending hours in the studio searching for tap patterns that are syncopated but match the musical dynamics and rhythms; new steps but still faithful to what tap is. I don’t want a fusion that makes me forget who I am.
Musically, I love how tap swings, but we’ve only danced to jazz and that didn‘t allow us to grow. Jazz has become intellectual, the body-mind connection has been cut, people don’t dance to jazz anymore. World music doesn’t separate movement, gender, and genre. Flamenco musicians get up and dance. I’d love to see a bass player dance.
I get criticized for what this choreography is not, but I don’t care if you don’t call it tap, if it’s not pure. I think the best way to honor my form is to create my own music. *(Roxane improvising with musicians “Tap dance after party in Reus”
Tell me why you decided to change the name of your company to World Beats?
I‘ve always been an individual artist. I don’t have a company, only a flexible collection of artists who work on my projects. My technique is very elaborate. It doesn’t look good on men; I’m too light and fast. I use my hips a lot. Originally I thought only women could dance my work. But, after a while I realized the best I could do for women in tap was to be the best artist I could be, no matter whom I was dancing with. I didn’t want to create a reverse separatism. That’s when I changed the project name to Roxane Butterfly’s World Beats. "Djellaba Groove," the journey of the migrating sole, developed when I realized the gypsy trail leads through India, Morocco and Andalusia into Spain. It’s my first attempt to reconnect with Africa through my Mediterranean connection to France. When you travel, do you learn new dances, movement styles, in the countries you travel to?
I want to learn the real thing, onsite. I exchange lessons. In Sevilla I went to flamenco jams and tapped. I put myself on the spot by going where music is being pl ayed, where dancers are.
I received an Arts International grant to go to French-speaking Africa. I approached girls, mothers, and teachers in schools. “We [Westerners] don’t have any ritual that marks passage to womanhood. I’m interested in your music and songs.” I never mentioned circumcision. I asked to them to sing a song in both Malinke and Sousou. “Do they have the same meaning? If this is supposed to make you happy, why do you look sad?” Then they talked. I used my ability to dance, my knowledge of music to jam with them and that helped open them up.
What do you do best as a teacher? I teach endurance, breathing, and stretching. You need strong abs, backs, and arms in order to free your movement. And I teach time, how to be a musician so you can create movement musically, as a narrative. Many young teachers have no lyricism, no clue of what it means to be a bandleader. That part of the process has been amputated by the lack of live music.
What do you think you could do better? I have to have more patience. I’m demanding; I want results. I [only] have two ankles and I don’t want to waste them.
Tell me about working with handicapped children? I was invited to an event in France. I thought I was teaching mentally handicapped teens. I decided I’d work with sensation, emotion, lights, music. It turned out they were physically handicapped, in wheel chairs. I felt silly with my tap shoes.
“Well, I didn’t expect this,” I told them. “I guess you’re sitting on your interesting instrument. I can’t go through space as fast as you.” Based on the capacity of their chairs, I found ways for them to cross space focusing on time. When I tried to have them do it on tempo some were too handicapped and couldn’t. So some of them pushed or pulled each other. They all wanted to keep on tapping!
It was a real tap class—music, re-inventing space, working together, creating possibilities, creating a story—this is the essence of my art form. And I didn’t under estimate what the students could do, that they could do things I couldn’t. We mixed our capabilities. It was hard, but it made me connect back to tap’s essence.
What has it meant to you that you have been able to have the life of an artist? Ups-and-downs. You have to know how to be alone, be strong. I’ve chosen this and I can’t back up. This is the only way I’ve ever lived. I have no children, no health insurance, no regular living. Some days I regret it. With time passing it gets harder. As a woman, the choices you’ve made, you think of them as sacrifices. It’s not easy so you have to know why you do it.
There are rewards—being on stage, generating art—and I have other interests, you live for the ups. You keep nurturing your art. I go to the studio every day. You keep ready for what comes, and the universe provides.
Clips of Roxane Butterfly’s new movie, Hoofologies, as well as performance footage, and tour and class schedules can be accessed fromwww.myspace.com/roxanebutterfly. Also see http://worldbeats.free.fr/index_bis.html.

Roxane Butterfly's Worldbeats
Spain: +34 651 684 430
USA: +1 212 636 9584

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