TDRN UK Online Talk Series: Contextualising Buddy Bradley in British Film

TDRN UK Online Talk Series: Contextualising Buddy Bradley in British Film

Tuesday 29 August 2023 19:00 – 20:30 BST | 11:00 PDT | 14:00 EDT | 20:00 CEST £6 / PWYC TICKETS

Annette Walker presents a follow up to her initial March 2021 presentation about a forgotten choreographer of British musical stage and screen, Buddy Bradley.

Buddy Bradley worked extensively in British musical theatre from his arrival in London in 1930 until he returned to New York in the 1960s. He made significant contributions to dance practice, choreographed for BBC productions and was the first credited black choreographer of British musical film, yet his work is barely acknowledged in British dance history. Buddy’s career began in New York where he coached many performers including Fred and Adele Astaire, Eleanor Powell and Lucille Ball. In London, he ran a dance school for over twenty years and was known as the number one coach to the stars including John Mills, Audrey Hepburn and Bruce Forsyth but his most significant work was with the stage and film star, Jessie Matthews.

Annette Walker’s presentation looks at a selection of Buddy Bradley’s surviving work in British musical film and the social and historical context of his life and career as an African-American choreographer in Britain. Uncovering Bradley’s dance work in film requires navigating negative racial stereotypes and tropes of black people that were prominent in Britain during the mid-twentieth century. The presentation raises questions about how racialisations in theatrical productions impact viewing tap dance and the work required to undo the “invisibilisation” of Black contributions to British musical theatre and dance history.


Biography: Annette Walker MA BSc (Hons) DipHE

Annette is an accomplished, multi-talented performing artist who has appeared in a variety of theatre, film, television and concert productions. Her tap dance features include the BBC Proms 2019 Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Swinging at the Cotton Club (UK tour) and the short film, Dateleap (2022). As an aerial circus artist, she was one of the Mary Poppinses in the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Annette is the founder and the musical director of the band, Rhythmaticians, and headlined the Marsden Jazz Festival with her new tap dance show in 2021. She also works as a music director and musician for other dance, music and theatre productions with credits that include Swing Sister Swing (UK tour 2022), Myke Masters Band and Sandi Toksvig’s Mirth Control at the WOW Festival at the Southbank Centre.

Annette’s passion for integrating music and dance continues off stage as a researcher and educator and she has taught at many dance and music institutions including, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, Royal Academy of Dance, The BRIT School, National Youth Jazz Collective and Tomorrow’s Warriors. She led the Renegade Stage (tap improvisation workshop) at the London Tap Jam for over 15 years, and is currently a co-director of Tap Dance Research Network UK. Annette is a fully funded AHRC PhD student researching the influence of African American choreographer, Buddy Bradley, on the British musical stage.

TDRN UK Online Talk Series – Moving the Music: Duke Ellington’s Dancers with Allana Radecki

TDRN UK Online Talk Series – Moving the Music: Duke Ellington’s Dancers with Allana Radecki

Tuesday 16 May 2023 19:00 – 20:30 BST | 14:00 EDT | 11:00 PDT | 20:00 CEST £6/ PWYC

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Shaped by the tidal forces of the New World, jazz music and dance are rooted in the Africa where the arts form a unified complex of interlocking relationships. The great composer and bandleader, Duke Ellington, exhalted the African aesthetic tradition, consciously aligning his music and imagination to serve all forms of jazz dance, throughout his long career. Known to keep “one eye on the audience and one eye on the act,” he most frequently called upon tap dancers to “step inside” his music and deliver a range of styles, percussive color and visual excitement to performance. A great collaborator, just as he practiced communal composing with his musicians, he also worked directly with dancers as allied artists. This presentation will share stories of these collaborations gleaned from oral histories and autobiographies of the jazz dancers who moved his music including: Bunny Briggs, Brownie Brown, Peg Leg Bates, Howard “Stretch” Johnson, Alfredo Gustar, Bessie Dudley, Talley Beatty and more.


About Allana

Artist, educator and performer, Allana Radecki has a BA in Fine Arts and MA in African American, African Diaspora Studies from Indiana University. Her research focuses on the interlocking roots and culture of jazz music and dance through autobiography and oral history. Her current book project examines the multi-faceted relationship between Duke Ellington and jazz dance, with an emphasis on tap dancers. A noted teacher of Hatha Yoga, Rhythm Tap and Modern Dance since 1986, she has taught thousands of classes to thousands of people of all ages. As a jazz tap dancer, Allana loves to improvise and also explores West African and Afro- Brazilian percussion including many years with Women of Mass Percussion and five seasons with the Indiana University Brazilian Ensemble.


TDRN UK Online Talk Series: Footwork my Life in Dance with Leela Petronio

TDRN UK Online Talk Series: Footwork my Life in Dance with Leela Petronio

Tuesday 28 February  2023 19:00 GMT | 11:00 PT | 14:00 EST | 20:00 CEST £6 / PWYC Tickets

Sarah Petronio, the privileged partner of the legendary Jimmy Slyde, is one of the leading female pioneers of Jazz Tap Dancing and a major player in the revival of the art form. She has broken new grounds in the international jazz world, taking her unique style of Jazz Tap Dance improvisation into the most important jazz clubs and dance festivals worldwide. 

The book Footwork – My Life in Dance features Sarah’s life and work. It takes the reader on a journey into the history of tap dance. She shares her methods of teaching, her thoughts on improvisation, mentoring and how one can discover the dancer within. With contributions from leading tap dancers, musicians and producers.

Sarah’s daughter, LeeLa, joins the TDRN UK Online Talk Series to discuss her mother’s groundbreaking career in jazz tap dance and editing Sarah’s book, published in May 2022, with a rich archive of photography by Peter Petronio.


Jazz Tap Artist Sarah Petronio was born and raised in India. She immigrated to New York at the age of 19 and later moved to Paris, France, where she became the dancing partner of Tap Legend Jimmy Slyde in the ’70’s and 80’s. Sarah has shared the stage with Gregory Hines, Honi Coles, Steve Condos, Lon Chaney, Chuck Green, the Nicholas Brothers, LaVaughn Robinson, Savion Glover, Brenda Bufalino, Dianne Walker, Lynn Dally, Acia Gray and many other very talented tap dancers. A master teacher and performer and a major force in introducing rhythm tap to French audiences, Petronio founded the Gît-le-Coeur Cultural Center, the Paris Tap Dance Company and the Tap Dance Department of the American Center in Paris.


Franco-American, LeeLa Petronio comes from the lineage of Rhythm and Jazz Tap through her mother (Sarah Petronio, privileged partner of the legendary dancer Jimmy Slyde). She develops projects around percussive dance drawing on the determining influences of her career – jazz culture, tap dance, hip hop dance, STOMP. Today she wears several hats – dancer, choreographer, producer, teacher, administrator, performer – sailing between different worlds in France and internationally.

Full Bios here


TDRN UK Online Talk Series: Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic with Brian Harker and Jane Goldberg

TDRN UK Online Talk Series: Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic with Brian Harker and Jane Goldberg

Wednesday 16th November 2022 19:00 GMT | 11:00 PDT | 14:00 EST/EDT | 20:00 CEST £6

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In this session we hear from Brian Harker, author of ‘Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic’ about his research into the life and legacy of tap dance master John W. Bubbles. 

Brian Harker will introduce Bubbles as a pioneering tap dancer and major figure in the American performing arts and discuss his experience of writing Bubbles’s first biography. In the course of his remarks he will show photos and videos of Bubbles in various performing contexts.

Jane Goldberg, who knew Bubbles towards the end of his life, will join the conversation to share stories of her time spent with this extraordinary, talented and hugely influential man.


Synopsis of ‘Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic’ by Brian Harker

John W. Bubbles was the ultimate song-and-dance man. A groundbreaking tap dancer, he provided inspiration to Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, and the Nicholas Brothers. His vaudeville team Buck and Bubbles captivated theater audiences for more than thirty years. Most memorably, in the role of Sportin’ Life he stole the show in the original production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, in the process crafting a devilish alter ego that would follow him through life. Coming of age with the great jazz musicians, he shared countless stages with the likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Ella Fitzgerald. Some of his disciples believed his rhythmic ideas had a formative impact on jazz itself. In later years he made a comeback as a TV personality, revving up the talk shows of Steve Allen and Johnny Carson and playing comic foil to Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and Lucille Ball. Finally, after a massive stroke ended his dancing career, he made a second comeback―complete with acclaimed performances from his wheelchair―as a living legend inspiring a new generation of entertainers. His biggest obstacle was the same one blocking the path of every other Black performer of his time: unrelenting, institutionalized racism. Yet Bubbles was an entertainer of the old school, fierce and indestructible. In this compelling and deeply researched biography, his dramatic story is told for the first time.

About Brian Harker

Brian Harker is Professor of Music at Brigham Young University. Two-time winner of the Irving Lowens Award for best article on American music, he is the author of Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic; Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings; and Jazz: An American Journey. He lives with his wife in Orem, Utah.

Jane Goldberg is a comedian, writer, tap dancer and key architect of the tap renaissance of the 1970s. She is the founder of the Changing Times Tap Dance Company and the author of the book “Shoot Me While I’m Happy,” with foreword by the late Gregory Hines. Her extensive tap archives now reside at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and are open to the public. Her main act is Rhythm & Schmooze, and she has a Traveling Tap Museum.


Whitman Women: HERstories

Whitman Women: HERstories

Thursday 2 December 2021 19:00 GMT | 11:00 PST | 14:00 EST | 20:00 CET £6/£4

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Who were the Whitman Sisters? Join us to learn how the Whitman Sisters were trailblazers, performers, producers, and businesswomen as they brought innovative tap dance to Black Vaudeville. Dr. Karen Campbell Kuebler presents her findings from the media of the time, sharing the fascinating life stories that highlight the links between then and now. As an experienced educator, Karen offers ideas and resources to broaden your approach to teaching tap dance history considering issues such as race and gender in performance.

Karen Campbell Kuebler is always moving and learning. As an undergraduate dance major in the 1980s, Kuebler realized her knowledge in dance history was severely lacking. This initiated a career-long research initiative to explore, connect, and apply dance history in her teaching and learning process. Kuebler began teaching Dance and French in Baltimore County in 1991. Since 2009, Kuebler has taught Dance History courses at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland and presented her research at conferences near and far since the 1990s. Kuebler shares her passion for dance history with her elementary students, colleagues, university students, family, and friends. She is excited to share the HERstory of the Whitman Women in her first textbook and looks forward to more revelations in dance history research.

Network Session February 2022: Teaching Tap – Improvisation

Network Session February 2022: Teaching Tap – Improvisation

Tuesday 22 February 19:30 GMT | 11:30 PDT | 14:30 EST/EDT | 20:30 CEST FREE

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The next few sessions will focus on key areas of tap dance teaching and education. In each session, Trish Melton and other members of the group, will share their thoughts and experiences from their own teaching practice and research in tap dance pedagogy.

Improvisation is a core skill of a tap dancer and this discussion will highlight teaching strategies in use in various practices which are aimed at developing improvisational skills through listening to the music through our ears and our feet. 

Trish Melton will share games and activities drawn from practices used back in vaudeville but updated for todays studio: trading and “stealing” steps, for example. Jess Murray will share her approach to delivering tap classes and training programs that centre improvisation to develop technique, musicality and creative devising strategies.

As well as sharing ideas, techniques and resources, we will open the floor for you to have group conversations, ask questions and share your own approaches.