Marjorie Davies Tap Awards 2014
28 May 2014
2 students report on their experiences at this year's Marjorie Davies Tap Awards 2014-Cecil House, London
I usually like to write something regarding the Tap Faculty events but this time I think I’ll leave the pen to my two students and one mum who were, with me, at the Cecil Sharp House in London for the Marjorie Davies Tap Awards.
I had the chance to live this experience a couple of times, long time ago all by myself (as an attendee), and only once with two not that young students (one of them was my sister). Being back, after many years, in the same studio and with my students was something you can understand only if you live it once in your life.
I’m sure you can have an idea of what the Tap Awards are reading the words of an Italian mum who helped me in realizing this little dream: let my young tappers to experience something special and bring back, in our country, the feelings of this event.
Antonio Barone, FISTD
For a translation of this article in Italian, please click here.
London has always exercised, on the Italians, a special fascination: it is the city of a thousand possibilities, which will opens many doors, especially if you're an artist.
This time the appeal was amplified from having seen a real show: the Marjorie Davies "Tap Awards"
When we arrived I was expecting a real theater with a stage, stalls and bleachers, noise, lights, sounds, confusion, hysterical and anxious mothers who roamed the corridors with their daughters full of themselves, and I already knew that attendees were not few. Instead it was, to my eyes, a building with the entrance similar to our school with the organizers of the event who welcomed and kindly showed us where the girls could get change. The other participants, all British, arrived in the locker room in an orderly, quiet, many girls dressed themselves up and remained highly focused and warmed while waiting to start the competition, preparing for choreography, as true professionals . Once our girls were ready, I settled down with the teacher in the studio.
All this took place in a room, entirely made of wood, looking a bit austere and a bit too serious for a dance competition. I was a bit nervous, it was the first time my daughter would follow a tap dance lesson entirely in English and it was her first solo in front of such a prestigious commission. But when the lesson began I was literally kidnapped from the very first words of the teacher, the musicality of his voice, the clarity in the explaining the steps, her warm and pleasant smile that put at ease even the most restless minds (such as my daughter one).
And I was so captured by everything that I stopped to follow my daughter and I was hanging off the teachers words…that I was going to stand up and perform the steps. It was all so pleasant and engaging that I forgot I was following a dance lesson in a language that was not mine and which I know very little. The young tappers were dancing in lines or one at the time all the short sequences/amalgamations the teacher explained them and it seemed that everyone was able to follow properly everything and have, at the same time, a good visibility from all the three judges. When they started to perform their own dances, I could not believe my own eyes: I was expecting a high level and a considerable preparation but not like this. The kids were phenomenal, they entered one at a time, very focused, neatly, quietly and walking in front of the commission that was careful to follow the choreographies. The judges glanced down only to take some notes, their eyes were always kept to the kids, in the studio the audience was showing respect and interest to all the young performers with a massive silence.
When the music started I felt I was watching many short musicals: the choreographies were spectacular, the kids, all of them without distinction from the number 1 to the number 140, the last one, performed their dances with confidence and firm belief looking at the judges always straight in the eye, making the whole room dreaming on different music styles like swing, blues, pop, in various settings with contrasting atmospheres. Everything was executed with a unique artistry. The sound of the metal taps was in full harmony with the songs chosen, it sounded like an extra musical instrument added to the other ones which emitted a pleasant, melodious and light sound which emphasized the rhythm of the song. The dances were alternating quickly and it was very emotional when they announced the number of my daughter. I held my breath for the duration of the performance because it was really brave, for her, to dance in a such prestigious event: I was really proud of her at that moment. I didn’t realized I watched such a large number of choreography because the whole thing was smooth and appealing: the kids were able to tell their stories with the movement and the song they danced! I was nailed to the chair and I did not want to get up even for a coffee (and you know how much Italians love to have coffee) because I didn’t wanted to miss even a sound, a beat of the shoes on the floor. I have to say at the end I was a bit disappointed that everything was on time having played with an order and extreme precision: I have never watched so spectacular and exciting.
On my way back to the hotel, I thought several times that I would not have ever wanted to have the role of the judges to decide who deserved the awards: to me everyone was good and deserved a commendation. Who knows, maybe next year we will be back again and I'll sit in the front row to enjoy the show again. I am very grateful to my daughter teacher, Antonio Barone: he gave us the chance to live this incredible experience where I have finally realized the hard work he is doing in a country where the tap dance is not popular and does not have the same respect like ballet or modern but also because I have seen with my own eyes what is the REAL talent."
Maria Grazia Spaccavento, Martina’s mother
My participation at the Star Tap Awards has been a really great experience, a unique opportunity to confront myself with other tap dancers from a different country and took part to tap class entirely delivered in English. I've discovered new sides of the tap dance that I didn’t knew but I've seen some others which I’m studying: a greater and total dance expression, with the whole body and not just the feet, a very high technical level, the use of different tools from the usual top hats and umbrellas, the choice of various musical genres, from a slower to a faster ones. I am convinced that this will serve to my personal growth and I hope to put into practice, in my upcoming performances, what I experienced Sunday, May 4th, an incredible day that I can hardly forget.
Martina, 13 years old
This experience has been different from my expectations: I just thought of perform but I am back home with the desire of learning even more, especially the new steps. Although it was my first time in London and my communication in English wasn’t great, it was funny and exciting especially because I compared myself with other dancers speaking one unique language: the one of the sounds of the Tap Dance.
Vanessa, 12 years old
For a translation of this article in Italian, please click here