Ray Hesselink

Music for tap

Ray Hesselink is a huge fan of Hollywood's MGM movie musicals. Their influence shows in his tap dancing. “My all-time idols are Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller. Those broads can turn," he says. “Three years ago, Chet Walker hired me to do a show called Heat Wave (celebrating the choreography of Jack Cole). I re-created two Ann Miller numbers. I had to get into her body, and that was hard. She turns and changes directions on a dime."

In his classes at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and Juilliard, Hesselink always incorporates a turning progression either in place or across the floor to challenge dancers' alignment and efficiency. “I liken it to a toy top. The faster you go, the faster everything has to become underneath. Students need to minimize work to maximize the turning." DT

Artist: Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey

Album: Swingin' in Hollywood

“This is a collection of the Dorsey Brothers' movie musical recordings. The music swings; orchestrations are full; it's always exciting. I've choreographed to every number."

Artist: Nat King Cole

Album: The Piano Style of Nat 'King' Cole

“This is just Nat on the piano, no vocals. This whole album will make you want to dance. You can tap to every song!"

Artist: Various

Album: Tambours du Monde (Drums of the World), Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

“To inspire new rhythms for exercises."

Artist: Jack Costanzo

Album: The Versatile Mr. Bongo Plays Jazz, Afro & Latin

“Jack 'Mr. Bongo' Costanzo is great to tap to. If you want a Latin sound with your tap, this album is great. Also, find his version of 'Sing, Sing, Sing' on iTunes—unbelievable!"

Artist: Sammy Davis Jr.

Album: That's All!

“This live recording is historic. So many great songs and tempos to play with. Check out some of Sammy's collaborations with Count Basie, too."

Photo courtesy of Ray Hesselink

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Music
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

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Courtesy Lovely Leaps

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The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

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News
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Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

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