July 2017 | FYI | Teacher-Friendly Master Tap Program Launches

Teacher-Friendly Master Tap Program Launches

Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World festival has long been a fount of tap knowledge for dancers. This year, teachers will get lessons designed just for them through the festival’s new Teacher Certification program, which runs July 17 to 20 at the American Rhythm Center in Chicago.

Maurice Hines, Lane Alexander, Tre Dumas, Linda Sohl Ellison, and African percussionist Sekou Conde will lead participating teachers through sessions that cover history, tap literature, pedagogy, drumming, composition, physiology, and music theory. Each year will bring a new curriculum, and teachers who successfully complete four programs (consecutively or non-consecutively) will be awarded a CHRP Master Teacher Certification. Alexander, CHRP co-founder and artistic director, told Dance Studio Life that the program is a response to the changing tap dance—or as he prefers to call it, “foot drumming”—educational scene. Traditionally, teachers polished their skills by taking class with established tap masters such as Honi Coles or Jimmy Slyde. “You could pick up their methods and incorporate that into your own teaching,” he said of these legendary dancers, who he called “a history lesson unto themselves.”

Over the past two decades, the “technical level of young dancers has gone through the roof,” Alexander said. While classes taught by master teachers in their 60s and 70s used to be “complex but not bone-shattering,” the “sheer velocity and difficulty” of today’s festival or convention classes is intimidating for many veteran teachers, he said.

This program “will give teachers a new way to think about what it is they teach, how they teach, and give them good information to take their students to a deeper level of understanding,” Alexander said. Visit chicagotap.org.