28 September 2011
The Tap Faculty reports on this exciting collaboration between the ISTD and Tap Attack
Introduction by Paddy Hurlings
Rhythm Routes was held on Sunday 22nd May 2011 at Performers College, Essex. This day of classes was probably the most outstanding since the Tap Faculty held the first Tap-fest 13 years ago. It was a joint venture with Tap Attack and the idea arose from a conversation that I had with Jo Scanlon at the 2010 Tap Awards.
The Tap Committee are extremely grateful to the directors of Performers College who allowed us to use all their studios and facilities to house this very successful day of Tap. Every ticket was sold and we are now arranging similar joint events to be held in 2012.
There were classes for teachers, students and children and I think they all enjoyed learning the many different Tap styles and the opportunity just to dance for their own enjoyment.
By Becki Tolley
Having excitedly booked myself and my daughter on to the Rhythm Routes workshop some weeks before, it was with nervous apprehension that I drove to the Performers College in Essex. Questions like “Would I be able to keep up?”, “Would my nine year old be able to tap for six hours?” or more importantly “Would I be able to tap for six hours?!” were whizzing round my head and I have to say that had I known Lakeside was so close I may well have chickened out altogether.
We arrived, registered and were split into groups of ability. Having had a break from tapping while I had my three children I had been panicking about being significantly older than others in my group and although there were a lot of lithe young things, there were also around eight more mature students who were all really friendly and clearly had the same worries as me.
My group started with a Lindy Hop based class taught by the fabulous Warren Heyes. For me it was the perfect opener, lively and fun with some partner work thrown in. I loved the mix of fusing jiving with tapping and Warren’s effervescent style of teaching meant I could just relax and enjoy it.
My next session was a lecture from Heather Rees, author of the book Tap Dancing, Rhythm in Their Feet, which not only covered the history of Tap and the development of some of the steps but also showed some amazing footage of Clayton “PegLeg” Bates and of course the fabulous Fred Astaire to name just a few. To my surprise Evie particularly loved this session. I had worried that she may have found sitting and listening uninteresting but she found a real understanding of where and how Tap has come to be.
After a short break for lunch which gave Evie and I a chance to show each other what we had learnt we moved on to our third sessions.
Mine was with Jim Doubtfire and was probably my favourite session of the day purely from the sense of achievement I got at the end. This was the session I was scared of, full on, fast paced, no stop time for reviewing what had been done, it was just GO, GO, GO and I loved it. Some of the members of Tap Attack were dotted around the class and on hand to help which was great. We learnt a close work routine with a brilliant cannon section. It was definitely challenging for my entire group and it made me smile to hear “I didn’t realise we would be working this hard” whispered by one of the lithe young things.
Our final session was jointly taught by Tap Attack director Jo Scanlan and developer of the new revised Tap grades Alison Forrester. Again, a very different session to the others, bite size, inventive routines taught to fascinating rhythms including an imaginative turning step. We were shown steps that on sight seemed impossible but once a few students had managed it everyone was keen to attempt. Irritatingly, Evie mastered most of these much quicker than me. I’m sure I would have performed better if I had this session first as at this point my legs were depleted of energy and my brain was overloaded with everything I had experienced.
The car journey home was a chance to catch up with Evie’s day and was non stop chatter about the friends made, teachers, favourite routines and steps we had learnt. Having three children it was a rare, precious amount of time to spend together with just Evie sharing a passion we both have and certainly an experience that I’m sure we will repeat. All of my worries and fears were pushed to one side within minutes of arriving, you can keep the shopping at Lakeside – you’ll find me tapping!
By Georgette Franks
On Sunday 22nd May I was lucky enough to attend Rhythm Routes 2011 which was collaboration between the ISTD and Tap Attack. The day started off with a Lindy Hop Masterclass taught by Warren Heyes who brought such excitement and enthusiasm to the group.
It was a great thing to start the day with, we all had a laugh, and it woke everyone up, providing them with a burst of energy to prepare them for the day ahead. After a quick break for some water, we all went off to a presentation given by Heather Rees, ‘A Journey Through Tap History’, and what can I say, it was so interesting the hour just flew by, everyone was gripped, hanging onto every word she said. The knowledge that she was handing over to us was priceless, we would be there watching a clip of the Nicolas Brothers and there would be Heather demonstrating next to them. This was one of my favourite parts of the day. After the presentation it was time for the Tap Attack workshop, which again was completely different, it was great – there was such a variety laid on that you were never doing the same thing twice. What I got most out of this workshop was how you can make such a variety of rhythms within the music, we were doing sections in group canons but the rhythms and patterns of sound we were making sounded amazing and everyone really got into it. Our last lesson of the day was an ISTD style workshop where we got to learn a sample of some of the new work that might be coming in to follow the new Primary to Grade 3, all I can say is wow! The new work is so inventive that some of it even left a group of experienced tappers baffled. Overall this was a great day; I gained so much from it and have been able to include a lot of what I learnt in my own dancing and teaching.
By Mia Zandi, Gabby Cocca and Laura Hills
We had a lovely day! The teachers were very nice and made the classes very entertaining and fun, and although we were absolutely shattered at the end of the day we learnt so many new steps and rhythms, it was definitely worth it.
Our favourite lesson was the tap dog lesson; the routine we learnt was amazing and the teacher made the lesson exciting and fabulous. Instead of just learning a solo routine we performed in three groups. We also had a lecture from Heather Rees on the history of Tap which was really interesting. It was nice to know how Tap originated and how it has developed. We loved watching the videos which were absolutely incredible; we couldn’t believe how good and inventive they were, considering it was many years ago, the Tap was great!
We would like to say a big thank you to the ISTD for putting on another great workshop and we can’t wait for the next one, not only to experience new teachers and new skills but also to meet up with friends which we have made along the way.
Mia Zandi, Gabby Cocca and Laura Hills