Dance News
Duke Ellington (right) with John Bubbles in a scene from Cabin in the Sky (1943). Photo courtesy of the New York Public Library

Tomorrow night at 7 pm, the American Tap Dance Foundation will host a special performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room in honor of legendary jazz pianist and composer Duke Ellington. The program, aptly titled "Tap Ellington," will feature the Duke Ellington Center's Big Band and tap stars like Tony Waag, Brenda Bufalino, Sam Weber, Sarah Reich and Josette and Joseph Wiggan.

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Coles in a studio shot for My One and Only. He was known for wearing fine tailored suits, giving him an air of sophistication. Photo by Kenn Duncan, courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

Charles "Honi" Coles was an American rhythm tap dancer known for his speed and sophisticated style. He was a founding member of the Copasetics, as well as one half of the popular vaudeville duo "Coles & Atkins," whose song-and-dance routines epitomized the vaudeville class act—routines that countered blackface stereotypes. Coles' later collaborative work with tapper Brenda Bufalino helped revive tap dance in the 1970s and led to the founding of the American Tap Dance Foundation in New York City.

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Tony Waag (center) performing in ATDF's 2016 Tap Treasures Concert. Photo courtesy of ATDF

When American Tap Dance Foundation artistic director Tony Waag was in college, he attended a tap workshop conducted by Brenda Bufalino. The two hit it off, and Bufalino became his mentor. From the get-go, Bufalino was supportive of Waag's stylistic choices.

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Tony Waag’s annual Tap City dance festival in New York City has a new program this year—Tap Treasures: a Tap Dance Storytelling Tour. Participants learn about the history and evolution of tap dance through a three-day tour of Manhattan locations where the best and brightest stars made their marks. Locations include the Apollo Theater in Harlem, The New 42nd Street and the American Tap Dance Center, founded by Tony Waag and Brenda Bufalino. Tap City, which takes place July 9–16, features performances and classes taught by Syncopated Ladies’ Chloé Arnold and Melinda Sullivan, Michelle Dorrance and Jason Mills.

Caleb Teicher performs with ATDF.

Photo by Vitaliy Piltser, courtesy of ATDF

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Harold (above) and Fayard in Stormy Weather (1943)

In our May issue’s History: Lesson Plan, we learn about Fayard and Harold Nicholas, aka the Nicholas Brothers, the tap dancing duo from Philly known for their one-of-a-kind “flash act” performances that combined fearless stunts, technical proficiency and brilliant showmanship.

Watch the Nicholas Brothers in “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” from the 1942 film Orchestra Wives. In it, Harold debuted his signature flash move: running up a wall, launching into a back-flip and then landing in a full split. Meanwhile, Fayard charged through space with a traveling axle turn that landed in a split.

National Tap Dance Day is on Wednesday, May 25th. Check out a few of the events happening this year.

Brooklyn, New York: The American Tap Dance Foundation will celebrate National Tap Dance Day on Sunday, May 22, with a performance 12–1 at The Evergreens Cemetery, the gravesite of tap legend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. For more info, visit:

Fort Worth, Texas: Tap dance organization Arts Fifth Avenue will host festivities and a free performance starting at 7 pm at Arts Fifth Avenue outdoor stage. For more info, visit:

Allentown, Pennsylvania: Tap Ties Company is hosting a weekend of master classes and concerts at Cedar Crest College, May 21–22. Guest artists include Karen Callaway Williams and Germaine Salsberg. For more info, visit:

Photo courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

For more on the Nicholas Brothers and National Tap Dance Day, subscribe to Dance Teacher and receive the May issue.

Congratulations to Jennifer DiDonato, Editors’ Choice for the Dance Teacher Video of the Month!

While on faculty at the New York Film Academy in New York City, DiDonato choreographed and directed this tap dance video, Babble by Bombershay, in the style of a black-and-white silent movie. Advanced tappers from the school’s musical theater certificate program performed in the film as part of an independent study project. “At the Film Academy, we want them to learn to focus on the story and remember what they’re trying to do and not just dance for dancing’s sake,” she says. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to use tap to express themselves.”

Throughout the film, the only sounds are vaudevillian piano music and tapping. To capture clean tap sounds, DiDonato says, they shot the scene first—at Café Regular du Nord in Brooklyn, which frequently hosts artists. Then they recorded dancers tapping in a sound booth to match the film.

Want to build buzz about your studio, workshop or class? Posting videos to the Dance Teacher Video of the Month Contest is quick, easy and free. If your video is selected as Editors’ Choice, you’ll be featured in the magazine and in DT’s newsletter! Visit to share your videos and vote for your favorites.

Brenda Bufalino’s adult tap class at ATDF

Instead of hibernating during these dark winter months, teachers and students can brush up on dance history at Tap Talks, the latest program from the American Tap Dance Foundation.

Founded in 1986 by Charles “Honi” Coles, Brenda Bufalino and Tony Waag, ATDF is all about establishing tap’s place in the dance canon. Its six-part Tap Talks series will feature lectures and discussions supplemented by performances and rare archival footage. The schedule includes a presentation of works-in-progress by ATDF’s artists-in-residence, a lecture on tap on the vaudeville stage, a Gregory Hines birthday tribute and more.

Tap Talks begins January 24, when Bufalino will lead a lecture on tap choreography. The program will continue through June, meeting one Friday a month. Each session costs $5.

E-mail or call 646-230-9564 for more information.

Photo by Tony Waag, courtesy of American Tap Dance Foundation

In 2012, "Tap it Out" was held at the World Financial Center.

There aren’t many opportunities to see 300 feet tapping in sync—unless you own Happy Feet on DVD. But this weekend, “Tap it Out” will give New Yorkers a show to remember. The performance will conclude the American Tap Dance Foundation’s week-long Tap City festival, which has hosted jams, master classes and performances in the area, as well as the 2013 Tap City Awards.

On Saturday, July 13, 150 tap students of all ages from all over the world will converge on Times Square, the perfect place to reflect the ensemble’s diversity. Dancers will perform choreography at noon, 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm. ATDF artistic director Tony Waag, who has been dubbed the “mayor of Tap City,” staged the event as a free a cappella extravaganza for NYC’s public. It may be hard to raise the roof at this outdoor venue, but the metallic symphony of riffs and rhythms is sure to be a hit.

Photo by Sara Krulwich


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