The TDRN UK Research Festival is back for a 2nd year! This year’s theme is ‘UK Tap Stories’. We have a fantastic range of online and in-person events that combine discussion, information sharing, and lots of opportunities to get on your tap shoes in practical workshops.

We celebrate the performer, educator and choreographer Tobias Tak. Join us as we discuss his contributions to the UK tap scene and how he influenced a whole generation of UK tap dancers. The archives of Tak and bebop jazz hoofer Will Gaines will also be shared alongside oral histories and unique insights from those who were mentored by them. We go in search of the legendary William Henry Lane ‘Master Juba’, exploring the events of his time in 19th Century Britain and the mysterious circumstances of his death and burial in Liverpool.

As well as looking back to retrace our steps through UK tap history, we also shine a spotlight on the ‘UK Tap Stories’ of today with an exciting array of UK-based artists and educators. Choreographer and artistic director Jack Evans shares his journey to take new tap musical Feet Keep Me Flyin’ from initial concept to a fully produced stage show. Simeon Weedall leads a practical workshop where you can try out ideas from his recently published book Solos That Speak. For those interested in tap dance education and training opportunities, you can learn about a range of community, vocational and pre-professional training routes that are currently available in the UK. Learn how different expert educators embed creative and cultural learning when sharing tap dance repertoire to create UK tap dancers of the future.

The Festival is also an opportunity to bring tap dancers from around the UK and the globe together, make connections, and enjoy this dynamic and ever-growing community. We close the in-person day with a live music tap jam and improvisation workshop for beginners.

Tickets: 20% discount for students and those with low income on all tickets

  • Research Festival ticket includes all online and in-person events £40
  • Online ticket £6 for both event links (In Search of Master Juba in Britain Network Session is FREE)
  • Tap Jam ticket £5

This event is subsided through support from a Changing Times Tap Foundation grant


Online event 1: Tap Tak and Swing: Tobias Tak’s Legacy in the UK Tap and Swing Scene.

Wednesday 21st June 19:00 – 20:30 £6 

Tobias Tak was highly influential in the UK tap and swing dance scenes, working as a performer and choreographer with many leading musicians and dancers. His many appearances, projects and tours in the UK and Europe had a lasting impact on those who collaborated with him and were inspired by his presence on stage. In this session, we enjoy rare footage of Tobias in performance, learn more about his life and career in the UK.

Tak’s legacy also lives on through the many people he taught and mentored. Many of whom are leading exponents of tap and swing dance in the UK today. Tap dancers Junior Laniyan, Lee Payne and Annette Walker who were taught and mentored by Tak will lead this discussion, joined by an array of special guests from the UK tap and swing dance communities.

Online event 2: In Search of Master Juba in Britain.

Thursday 22nd June 19:00 – 20:30 FREE Network Session 

William Henry Lane, known as ‘Master Juba’ was a legend in his own lifetime. He toured America, Europe and Britain, famously facing down rival dancer John Diamond to be widely recognised as the best dancer of his day! However, little is known about Lane’s years in the UK between his arrival in 1848 and his tragically early death in Liverpool at c.27 years old.

Join us as we go in search of ‘Master Juba’, tracing his movements and performances across Britain. Lucy Thompson and Hannah Ballard will share learning from their initial research about Juba’s time performing and living in the UK. Jess Murray will then host an open discussion to find new pieces of information, knowledge, and perspectives to inform this ongoing research.

In-person day: Saturday 24th June 2023. The Dancehouse, 10 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 5QA. 10:30 – 17:30

Workshops, discussions, presentations.

‘Feet Keep Me Flyin’  – Creating a new tap musical with Jack Evans

Jack Evans is a choreographer, director and film maker who’s work has featured in commercials, film festivals and now in musical theatre. Jack shares the unfolding story of ‘Feet Keep Me Flyin’ – a tap dance musical due to be presented at the prestigious BEAM 2023 this year. Join Jack as he goes on a deep dive into the writing and development process of a new musical that places tap dance at the heart of the story. Learn how composition and choreography intertwine to create new music and how Jack is preparing for the journey ahead to bring this exciting new work the stage!

Archives in steps and stories: Remembering Tobias Tak and Will Gaines

Tobias Tak and Will Gaines made a huge impact on the UK tap scene, mentoring future generations of tap dancers leading the field today. Tak trained with many masters of rhythm tap in New York going on to share his knowledge at many leading UK college and conservatoires, as well as working extensively in the UK and Europe as a performer and choreographer. Gaines learnt the craft of tap dancing on the street and from watching touring hoofers. He worked in the  USA in the 1940s – 50s, coming to the UK in the 1960s. He influenced many jazz musicians and tap dancers, and was an integral supporter of the London Tap Jam. Annette Walker and Junior Laniyan reflect on their mentors, joined by invited guests to bringing together objects and oral history with steps and stories along the way. Enjoy access to these rarely seen archives including objects, footage and images as they are brought to life by those that knew Tak and Gaines personally.

Solos That Speak with Simeon Weedall

‘Speak honestly and your body will bring the music you sing’. This practical workshop is suitable for tap dancers of all levels of experience that are interested in developing their technique, musicality and improvisation skills. Drawing from his recently published book ‘Solos that Speak – A Tap Dancer’s Guide to Authentic Expression’, Simeon Weedall leads us on a journey through tones, textures & timbres – an exploration of the more unusual sounds in tap. Find out how to do a ‘Glick’ (gliding click), ‘Glam’ (gliding flam) and ways to approach the fascinating world of improvised tap dance and find your own song for your feet to sing!

Teaching Tap Legacies with Hannah Ballard, Annette Walker and Jess Murray

In this practical session, three tap educators share their approach to teaching a specific piece of classic or contemporary repertoire, with a focus on the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of their own teaching practice evolved from the way they themselves learn from teachers and mentors. Each unpacks the lessons of the material they are sharing and how this changes in different contexts including community classes, vocational and pre-professional training. There will be demo performances by Sole Rebel Training Company and Annette Walker’s Tap Programme as well as the opportunity to learn some material and gain ideas to take back to your own teaching and learning. Followed by Q&A and open discussion.


18:00 – 20:30 Live music tap jam and improv workshop. 

A tap jam is an event where tap dancers of all ages and abilities can perform with live music. It is always a great night whether you are there to watch and enjoy or to get up and dance.

Join us as we celebrate the closing of the TDRN UK Research Festival with a live music tap jam hosted by Lee Payne. Enjoy fantastic live jazz from the band with appearances from many of the UK’s leading tap performers. 

Tickets: £5 / £4 concessions (included in Research Festival ticket price)


who’s involved

Hannah Ballard

Hannah Ballard

Hannah is a multidisciplinary dance artist and practitioner, experienced in performance, direction and choreography. Her practice draws from her experience in rhythm tap dance, somatic and release based contemporary dance and improvisation. Hannah studied professional tap and music practice at Escola Luthier de Dansa, Barcelona. She completed her original a BA at London Studio Centre in Theatre Art and a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University.

In 2011 Hannah founded Sole Rebel, a female led dance company who love rhythm, storytelling & making music with their feet. Last year, Sole Rebel launched a Training Programme for early career dance artists offering world-class training in tap dance & performance opportunities, aiming to build & nurture young talent, developing homegrown, quality tap dancers to feed into our professional company. Over the past 10 years Sole Rebel have successfully toured 9 shows (ACE funded) performing and teaching at; Greenwich & Docklands International Dance Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Brighton Fringe, Festival No.6, Brecon Jazz Fringe, Vaults Festival, Woking Party in the Park, Without Walls, Culture Liverpool, Just SO, Swansea Dance Days, Wilderness, Bristol Harbour, Dancin’ Oxford & Secret Garden among others.

Simeon Weedall

Simeon Weedall

Simeon studied at London Studio Centre graduating with a BAHons in Jazz Theatre Dance and the prestigious Tap Award. His performance career includes Chicago International Tour, Chicago West End, Dorrance Dance New York, About Time tap company London, tap soloist for Coca-Cola, The Liam O’Conner Show, the Jiving Lindyhoppers, Will Gaines 80th Birthday Celebration, and Tap World. He has formed musical collaborations with multiple jazz artists across the world including Lee Payne and Theseus Gerard to create Percussive Feet tap company. Simeon joined STOMP London in 2007 and after a world tour and three U.S tours he then resided in the New York Production and totalled 15 years in the show. Simeon was the drummer for Paradise Rocks the musical and plays for various dance classes. More recently he created a short, self-filmed percussion movie – One Man, Many Rhythms.

Simeon’s tap dance and body percussion teachings continue to inspire the next generation of tap dancers worldwide through his online teaching school – and he contributes to raising money for multiple charities across the globe through his tap solos.

Lee Payne

Lee Payne

Lee is a performer, choreographer and director who has toured with many shows including Singing In The Rain, Riverdance and Magic Of The Dance as well as other acts on the Swing Dance and Lindy circuits. He has performed on stage and in music videos with Enrique Inglesias, Garielle, Wyclef Jean, Brian Harvey, Steps, S-Club 7, The Honeyz and The Appleton Sisters. He regularly tours with Swingin’ at The Cotton Club and is the regular host for London Tap Jam.

Lee is Artistic Director of Bruckfeet production company, currently working on an exciting  range of creative projects including Tap Symphony that blend tap dance and music with other creative disciplines.

Lee is an experienced teacher having taught on the faculty of many major UK institutions, most recently the Institute Of Contemporary Theatre in Brighton.  

Lucy Thompson

Lucy Thompson

Lucy Thompson is a PhD researcher in cultural and historical geography at the University of Cambridge, funded by Trinity College, with an interest in dance, mobilities and embodiment. Her PhD research is titled ‘Stepping in Time and Space with Circum-Atlantic Performance: A Cultural and Historical Geography of Tap Dance’, where she is using predominantly archival methods to map and trace tap dance’s connections to migration, mobility, and movement across the scale of the ‘circum-Atlantic’ (Roach, 1996), from tap’s colonial origins to later performance circuits, and its development into popular culture. Within this, she is currently working on tracing tap’s diffusion to Britain, with a case study focussing upon William Henry Lane, or ‘Master Juba’, in the mid-nineteenth century, aiming to map his performances across Britain and audience reception within wider transatlantic Victorian performance circuits.

Annette Walker

Annette Walker

Annette is a dynamic and multi-skilled performer appearing in a variety of shows, from theatre, circus and dance, to the concert stage, television and film. Annette is an alumni Trailblazer Fellow of the Dance of the African Diaspora (One Dance UK), a freelance writer, researcher and consultant. She teaches both music and dance and regularly leads the Renegade Stage, an improvisation workshop for tap dancers, at the bi-monthly London Tap Jam. 

In 2019 she featured as a tap soloist in the BBC Proms Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music concert at the world famous Royal Albert Hall in London, UK. Annette often collaborates with other artists and is currently working with artistic director and award-winning jazz bassist, Gary Crosby OBE, of Tomorrow’s Warriors. 

Annette presents her independent research on tap dance at conferences and takes part on panel discussions. She is particularly interested in the past and present relationship between jazz dance and music, improvisation, and the development of tap dance in the UK in relation to its historic American roots. 

Jess Murray

Jess Murray

Jess works collaboratively with musicians to create original performance work is artistic director of Tap Rhythm Project, outdoor arts show Sound Catchers and KinaeSonic – an ongoing performance research project that explores dance and music improvisation and dramaturgy. She produces and hosts tap jams (Tap Rhythm Project, London Tap Jam, Tap Dance Festival UK) and is the founding director of TDRN UK.

Jess has appeared as part of London Jazz Festival in Finding Synaesthesia and with the Michele Drees Jazz Tap Project with whom she also performed at Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. Jess performed as a Clog dancer with The Lock In Dance Show for 3 UK tours, Glastonbury Avalon Stage and the Edinburgh Fringe. She worked for Les Commandos Percu, performing in France, Belgium, Holland and collaborating to create On the Night Shift for the Olympic Opening Ceremony at Windermere and Paralympics Closing Ceremony in 2012.

Jess was lead choreographer for outdoor performance ‘tap dance and story-telling extravaganza’ Tappin’ In, for the Commonwealth Games and Birmingham International Dance Festival in 2022.

Jess has has taught at The Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) and currently at Leeds Conservatoire of Music.

Jack Evans

Jack Evans

Jack trained at Bird College. Creative credits include: writer / director of ‘DATELEAP’ (short film), which recently completed an extensive international film festival circuit; writer / choreographer of ‘Feet Keep Me Flyin’ – a tap dance musical which is being presented at the prestigious BEAM 2023 this year; ‘SKIN Fashion Show’ (Canary Wharf); ‘G-Star RAW’ – award winning commercial (Kyiv / Cinema / TV); and ‘Game of Talents’ (ITV). Between 2010-2018, Jack’s choreography won 5 World Tap Champion titles. His performance career included ‘42nd Street’ and ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ in the west end; ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ on tour; and many performances across TV and film. Jack has written and directed fifteen original 30-minute multi-genre dance pieces and choreographed at leading institutions internationally.

Jack has been a faculty member / guest choreographer for: Tap Attack / Team GB; The London Studio Centre’s ‘Jazz Co’; Masters Performing Arts; Morea Performing Arts; The Urdang Academy; LIPA; Addict Dance Academy; Bird College; Mountview Academy; The Brighton Tap Festival; Tap United (Boston) and MOVE IT! (ExCel, London).

Junior Laniyan

Junior Laniyan

Founder of the London Tap Jam, Junior Laniyan trained at The Sylvia Young Theatre School. He has performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with Tobias Tak in Out Of The Blues, and New York on Tap, Cross Currents Turned on Tap as well as Finding Synaesthesia which was for the Salzberg & London Jazz Festivals with Canada’s Heather Cornell. He also performed the Mr Bojangles solo in Robbie Williams Live at the Royal Albert Hall. 

International credits include Copasetics (Switzerland), Feet Fusion Tap Concert (Finland), Los Sones Negros (Spain) with Flamenco legend Juan de Juan, In La Serana Festival Internacional de Jazz with Cristián Cuturrufo, and Riverdance (Germany, Ireland, Korea, UK and China) where he filmed Riverdance Live From Beijing DVD.

Junior was a member of the Michele Drees Quartet performing at at London’s 606 Club, 2013’s London Jazz Festival, as well as opening for Jazz legend Jon Hendricks at Ronnie Scott’s and being invited to perform at the Ernesto Nazareth Chorinho Festival (Brazil). His tap choreography credits include Sky 1’s Louis Spence’s Show Business, Net A Porter’s online Autumn Winter Shoes Campaign a commercial for Zain in Lebanon and Dance consultant for London’s 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.