The Taps Are Talking: Women In Tap performances were inspired by interviews with the following dancers:
Anita Feldman, New York, has gained a reputation as a leading innovator of tap dance, choreographing pieces in collaboration with new music composers that incorporate electronics and her patented “Tap Dance Instrument”, a wood and brass multi-timbral floor. Anita Feldman Tap, a company of musicians and dancers, performed at over 100 venues in the U.S., Japan and Germany. Her book Inside Tap: Technique and Improvisation for Today’s Tap Dancer is published by Princeton Books. She is on the full-time dance faculty at Hofstra University.
Ayodele Casel, New York, has appeared on the cover of Dance Spirit, American Theater Magazine and The Village Voice. She has worked and performed with the late great Gregory Hines, Jazz Tap Ensemble, American Tap Dance Orchestra and Savion Glover as the only female in his company N.Y.O.T.s. (Not Your Ordinary Tappers). She is a co-founder of Tandem Act Productions and Tap Intensified. www.ayodelecasel.com. (More about Ayodele under Today.)
Barbara Duffy, New York, was a founding member of Brenda Bufalino’s American Tap Dance Orchestra and has performed in and served as assistant choreographer for several compositions by Savion Glover. She performed extensively on television, including being a featured dancer, actress and choreographer on the CBS sitcom, The Gregory Hines Show. Barbara is currently the artistic director of Barbara Duffy & Company, a company of all women tap dancers. She has said, “Tap dance is communication. I mean, in countries where they don’t speak English and I don’t speak the language, we communicate!” www.barbaraduffyandcompany.com.
Brenda Bufalino, New York, is a mixed genre artist: a choreographer and tap dancer; a dancer who sings, tells stories, writes books and works clay into shapes that dance; and a painter. She has performed her one-person shows internationally and has appeared as a guest soloist at Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center, among other major venues. As artistic director/choreographer of The American Tap Dance Orchestra, she toured America and Europe with her company, appearing at The Joyce Theatre and on PBS “Great Performances … Tap Dance In America with Gregory Hines.” theuncommonimage.net/brendabufalino. (More about Brenda under Today.)
Delno Polk Bailey, Denver (1926–1999). At ten years old, Delno Polk Bailey toured nationally with the junior Ebony Follies on the RKO Orpheum Circuit, accompanied by her grandmother as a chaperone. Later, she performed with George Holmes and Company, Shelly Rhym, the Johnny Otis Band, the Swinging Swankies, and the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. She also danced with the Nicholas Brothers, in USO shows; with Sammy Davis, Jr., and with Paul Motley. (More about Delno under Yesterday.)
Idella Reed–Davis, Chicago, is a teacher and founding member of Rhythm Iss … a female tap company, and has performed and taught at festivals throughout the US and Europe. Idella said, “For so long women have been comfortable in the dance studio teaching. A lot of the male dancers that have come to the forefront were taught by women … ”
Jeni LeGon, Vancouver, began tapping when she was a child in Chicago. Born in 1916, she danced and toured with the Whitman Sisters troupe, and her first professional act was with the Count Basie Chorus in a lineup of 16 women. Jeni performed with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in the movie, Hurray for Love, followed by over a dozen other films. LeGon ultimately left the United States, where job opportunities were few, and settled in Vancouver. In 1999, the National Film Board of Canada released Grant Greshuk’s prize-winning documentary, Jeni LeGon: Living in a Great Big Way. (More about Jeni under Yesterday.)
Katherine Kramer, Miami, has been a vital presence in the resurgence and evolution of classic jazz and tap dance since the 1970’s. She is the producing artistic director of “Rhythm Explosion”, a summer dance and music workshop in Bozeman, Montana, dedicated to the art of dancing to jazz and world music. She has shared the stage with tap luminaries such as: Jimmy Slyde, Honi Coles, Brenda Bufalino, Sarah Petronio, Dianne Walker, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Her influences include: Brenda Bufalino, Charles “Honi” Coles, Ralph Brown, Charles “Cookie” Cook, and Paul Draper, with whom she has appeared in concert. www.katherinekramer.com.
Linda Sohl-Ellison, Los Angeles, is the artistic director/choreographer and a performer with Rhapsody In Taps (RIT), a tap dance touring company she co-founded in 1981, featuring 7 tap dancers and 6 musicians. Under her direction, RIT performs traditional and experimental tap works to live jazz, percussion and world music; presents annual National Tap Day events and workshops; and honors the nation’s tap masters. Ms. Sohl-Ellison has been a full time professor of dance at Orange Coast College, teaching her tap repertoire, the tap styles and works of her mentors – Foster Johnson and Eddie Brown – as well as classes in several dance forms. She and her husband, percussionist/dancer Monti Ellison, also teach residencies and perform a duet repertoire. www.rhapsodyintaps.com.
Lynn Dally, Los Angeles, is the co-founder and artistic director of the Jazz Tap Ensemble, which is now celebrating its 30th anniversary. Currently, she is an adjunct professor in UCLA’s department of World Arts and Cultures and continues to teach and perform internationally. www.jazztapensemble.org.
Tina Pratt, New York, dancer extraordinaire, hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tina Pratt is one of the legends of tap. She performed throughout the US and Europe with a host of entertainers, singers and tap dancers, including: Sammy Davis, Jr., Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx and Phyllis Diller. She also has performed with a roster of dancers including: Baby Lawrence, Bunny Briggs, Shorts Davis, Howard “Sandman” Sims, Hines, Hines and Dad, and many more. She continues to teach, lecture and perform, and is currently working with Susan Goldbetter and Circuit Productions. www.circuitpro.org.