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. atdf.org/tapcity.html

Caleb Teicher performs with ATDF.

Photo by Vitaliy Piltser, courtesy of ATDF

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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 info@atdf.org or call 646-230-9564 for more information.

Photo by Tony Waag, courtesy of American Tap Dance Foundation

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