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By Wendy Perron
Last December a show called Tappy Holidays at Symphony Space in NYC celebrated a brilliant array of individual tap styles. There was Derick Grant, Jason Samuels Smith, Michelle Dorrance, Chloe Arnold and the two hosts, Ayodele Casel and Sarah Savelli. But it was a relative newcomer, Jared Grimes, who brought the house down with a veritable storm of dancing. It’s thrilling to see a young dancer take the audience with him—all the way. Because Grimes exemplifies the younger generation of tappers—for one thing he’s influenced by hip hop, for another he’s devoted to becoming an all-around entertainer—we wanted to feature him as the cover story for our tap issue. Last February, the tap historian Constance Valis Hill caught up with Grimes during a break from his work on Stormy Weather in Philadelphia. Her story “The Showstopper” catches the momentum of his dancing and his career. Look for him soon in his latest gig, in The Marc Pease Experience, a movie comedy with Ben Stiller and Jason Schwartzman.
Tappers are crossing borders to teach and perform more than ever these days. When they have exchanges with percussive dancers in other parts of the world, it is not only rhythms and sounds, but a wish for peace between countries. When you read “Global Tap” by tapper Max Pollak, a world traveler and a 2007 “25 to Watch,” you’ll be amazed at the world wide web of tap that he has helped to spin.
The first thing you learn when you study tap is how to make a good, clear sound with your feet. I’ve taken enough tap classes (strictly beginning level) to know that each teacher has a different approach to getting that sound. In “Sounding Off,” assistant editor Emily Macel (who sometimes accompanies me on my tap forays) asks several well-known dancers for their advice on how to get a clear sound.
This seems to be the season for renovating the great story ballets. Kevin McKenzie, in collaboration with Gelsey Kirkland, is remaking The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre, to premiere at their Met season this spring. Read Joseph Carman’s “Christening a New Sleeping Beauty” to learn how they are approaching this production. An added bonus is that Kirkland will step back onstage—as Carabosse! Across the plaza, another great ballerina will appear in Peter Martin’s new Romeo and Juliet for New York City Ballet: Darci Kistler as Lady Capulet. In our lead “Dance Matters” this month, Astrida Woods talks to Peter Martins about his highly unconventional decision to cast young girls from the School of American Ballet to play the lead. And you will see in “Previews” that Michael Pink, the artistic director of Milwaukee Ballet who is no stranger to drama, is also creating a Romeo and Juliet.
Anyone for a Juliet who can shuffle and flap?
Editor in Chief