Magazine article Dance Magazine

Portland International Tap Festival

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Portland International Tap Festival

Article excerpt

Every summer for the past six years young tap dancers have been flocking to Portland, Oregon, to learn from the aging masters of what may be the most American dance form. Teenagers Mya Harrison and Joe Webb, winners of the 1994 Tap America Project Summer Scholarship Competition, are two out of some 300 students of all ages who will gather in the City of Roses July 8-16 to study with old-time hoofers such as Cholly Atkins and Buster Brown.

"For anyone whose dream of heaven is to take tap eight hours a day for a week, this is the place to be," says Jan Corbett, the festival's director. A variety of tap techniques are taught - from old-time hoffing to the latest moves to rap. This year, for the first time, there will be a class in musical theater tap, with instruction in how to use hats and props.

Students come from around the United States and Canada, and from countries as distant as Japan, Germany, and France for these sessions. The contingent from Portland includes the Jefferson Dancers, Jefferson High School's award-winning dance troupe.

The festival ends with a performance by faculty members called "Tappin' with Masters." This year the emcees are Cholly Atkins and Dianne Walker. Atkins is well known for his partnership with the late Charles "Honi" Coles, a duo that defined tap at its most impeccably elegant. He was also a choreographer for many of Motown's leading recording artists, and at the festival he teaches an unusual class in Motown vocal choreography, as well as advanced tap. …

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