Mar 9, 2023
Tuesday 16 May 2023 19:00 – 20:30 BST | 14:00 EDT | 11:00 PDT | 20:00 CEST £6/ PWYC
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.
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.
Feb 10, 2023
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
Aug 10, 2022
Wednesday 16th November 2022 19:00 GMT | 11:00 PDT | 14:00 EST/EDT | 20:00 CEST £6
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.
Nov 15, 2021
Thursday 2 December 2021 19:00 GMT | 11:00 PST | 14:00 EST | 20:00 CET £6/£4
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.
Nov 15, 2021
Tuesday 22 February 19:30 GMT | 11:30 PDT | 14:30 EST/EDT | 20:30 CEST FREE
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.
Apr 29, 2021
Tickets: £6 / £4 book here
Presentation by Sean Mayes and Sarah Whitfield followed by Q&A and open discussion.
Though some key Black practitioners like Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway’s visits to the UK are reasonably well known, the influence of Black dancers, choreographers and practitioners in the 1930s is little discussed despite their extensive presence in theatre in the UK. Many African American dancers like the Nicholas Brothers, Nyas Berry and Peg-Leg Bates performed not only in the West End but across the UK. Another aspect of Harlem theatre’s influence on the UK has been little considered, through the work of choreographers like Buddy Bradley who reshaped not only tap in the UK but also jazz ballet, and Clarence Robinson (known for his work at the Cotton Club and Stormy Weather) who worked in the UK for a year transplanting revues. We explore the work of these key figures, and the influence of practitioners from both the Caribbean islands and the mainland Caribbean region who had visited and worked in Harlem in the 1920s like Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson (born in Guyana) and Sam Manning (born in Trinidad). Join us as we uncover how Harlem theatre reshaped British dance practices.
Sean and Sarah are co-authors of An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre 1900 – 1950.
Sean Mayes is an MD & conductor, his work has involved productions on stages across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He is an active member of the Broadway community as an MD, orchestrator-arranger, vocal coach, accompanist & pit musician. In Spring 2019, Mr Mayes was Music Director and Conductor of the all-Canadian premiere of The Color Purple. He is based between New York City and Toronto.
Sarah K. Whitfield is a Senior Lecturer in Musical Theatre at the University of Wolverhampton. She writes about the history of musical theatre, and recovering the work that women and minoritised groups through archival research and digital humanities. She is based in the West Midlands, UK.