Music for Class: Mike Minery

Music for rhythm tap

When Mike Minery’s students enter Wednesday tap class at For Dancers Only in Little Falls, New Jersey, they already know what technique drills are coming. “Soon after I first started teaching, I realized I was just coming up with combinations. I wasn’t really teaching technique,” says Minery. “Now I’ve made an exercise for every step we use in a combination. We do them each week and add on when the students get more advanced.” The tailored phrases allow the dancers to continue polishing their most basic skills while advancing their tap vocabulary.

As a teacher with JUMP, Minery gets a solid gauge of tappers’ technical pitfalls. His biggest gripe is musicality, finding that students often speed through combinations, equating pace with skill level. “Tap gives you an adrenaline that makes you want to rush. But slow down, play with the melody and pick out the accents,” he says. “That’s the most unique way to stand out.” DT

Artist: Oscar Peterson

Album: A Jazz Portrait of Frank Sinatra

“He’s phenomenal and phrases his solos so well. It’s more for myself—when I’m in the studio improvising and choreographing—but also for exercises in class.”

 

 

Artist: Bruno Mars

Album: Unorthodox Jukebox

“Tap can be fun and cool. It doesn’t have to fit the stereotype that it’s old-timey stuff. ‘Natalie’ and ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ are my favorites on Mars’ new CD. There’s a funk or Motown feel to the album that goes well with tap. There are some bad words, but I always edit them out.”

 

Artist: Batida do Corpo

Album: Body Percussion

“I recently did a group piece to this. I use a lot of world music to vary it up. This is rhythmically really interesting. The bonus track ‘Amazonas’ features Fatboy Slim.”

 

 

Artist: Jason Mraz

Song: “You and I Both”

“Jason Mraz is my favorite artist. ‘You and I Both’ is great for a duet between a guy and a girl. (I’ve performed it with my girlfriend.) It’s very quick and percussive with a lot of counterrhythms and partial rhythms.”

 

 

Artist: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Album: Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver

“She’s kind of a modern day Ella Fitzgerald and probably the best jazz vocalist right now. I’ve used this for solos for girls. She has great phrasing and a nice edge. She scats a lot, so you can take her rhythms and match the choreography.”

 

Artist: Josh Vietti

Song: “Green Light”

“I choreograph so much that I really try to run the gamut of every type of music—I don’t want to hit the same note over and over. This is like hip-hop violin. A lot of his stuff is very funky.”

 

 

Photo courtesy of JUMP

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