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Posts Tagged ‘tap dance’

Dancing on the big stage!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Everyone has a story. I don’t ever want to assume that the people around me have nothing of interest to share. So I stop, ask questions, listen. I love it! People are fascinating! I am surrounded by people at Ballet Austin who could regale me for hours with their stories. Inside every one of our dancers, staff, and incredible instructors is a wealth of life experience. Today I share just one.

Vincent Sandoval teaches theatre dance, tap, and Musical Theatre workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. We sat down the other day to talk about his upcoming holiday workshop Santa’s Gonna Rock and RollNot having been a performer myself, I am intrigued by the stories of those who are.

Vincent began to paint a picture of life in New York; life on Broadway and beyond. It was a journey. Vincent shared; I listened.


When I first arrived in New York I was performing in midtown at a cabaret. It was only 2 doors down from Phantom of the Opera. I was close, just not close enough. Eventually I found my way to Radio City Music Hall,
the world’s largest indoor theater, home of the Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I performed with the Rocketts for 6 years and was then asked to be Assistant Director and Choreographer to put up the LA company. That was the year we were asked to be in the Jay Leno Show. Jay Leno! Fun memories!

My biggest highlight while performing with the Rocketts was when I was asked to be a featured dancer in the show. For a time I was the only guy on that big stage with those 38 girls and their legs. Just me; pretty awesome. The Rockettes stood posed behind me in the background; I danced. To dance on that huge stage by myself was a thrill.

Beyond the Rocketts I had the opportunity to do many wonderful shows. My favorite was CRAZY FOR YOU because I got to go on the European tour to Switzerland, Germany, and France. The sights, the people, the food.  I loved the food! Of course, there were a few times when we just craved some good ‘ole home cooking. I remember the time we toured to Japan. I grew tired of rice and soup. Being from Texas, I was missing some red meat and so I went looking for a cow. Thank goodness for Outback Restaurants in Japan! 

The other reason I love CRAZY FOR YOU is that it was a tap show, and tap is my favorite!

I remember how much I loved tap right from the start. As a kid I had to tag along to the dance studio with my sister.  It was my only way to eventually get home if I wanted a ride. My sister was the dance student. I was not. Tap was my sister’s last class of the day. I did my homework (or was supposed to) while waiting in the lobby. But the rhythm of the feet caught my attention so I would start tapping in the lobby.  One day the tap teacher told my mom, “You might want to enroll Vincent into a tap class. He’s actually better than most of the other kids.” To this day my sister still gives me notes when I dance.

So many wonderful experiences and incredible memories. I still perform at times, but through teaching dance I am able to tell my stories, share the experiences and memories, and keep the shows and performers of Broadway alive!

Join Vincent beginning November 29 for the Holiday Musical Theatre Workshop. Learn some of the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular. Can’t make that workshop? Dance the 80′s in January! Or drop in to a tap or Theatre Dance class. Learn to dance while listening to the stories of Broadway and beyond.

Standing in My Capezio Tap Shoes

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The best stories come from real people who take classes at the Butler Community School. I recently heard from Rebecca Persons who has enjoyed tap classes at the BCS. Rebecca graduated from UT Austin with a degree in journalism in 2009 and has been dancing for 14 years.

Standing in my Capezio tap shoes, worn with age and stress from years of dancing, my gaze follows a man dressed in knee-high socks and a fedora hat as he enters the dance room. His feet move rhythmically as bee bops and doo-wops emit from his mouth in euphony with his fast-moving feet. You won’t have had to take a tap class from Ballet Austin to know that this is the Rhythm/Swing Tap instructor.

Tony Merriwether instantly reminds me of swing dancers I’ve seen in the past. But this is different. He marries basic tap techniques with The Charleston, Lindy Hop, and many other great swing variations. And to my delight, he’s just put on “Pickin’ the Cabbage,” by Dizzy Gillespie on the sound system.

I don’t usually consider tap a workout, but Merriwether brings energy and technique to the class that gets us all sweating and nostalgic for some of our favorite jazz trumpeters. I feel my shins begin to burn as we do various footwork exercises and my Achilles tendon tightens from moving my feet in ways they aren’t use to.  And the choreography is great. You can’t help but leave the class feeling like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.

Swing Tap is now my most loved class I’ve taken at Ballet Austin, as well as one of my favorite types of dance. Broadway Show Tap is also on the BCS schedule this fall, taught by Broadway veteran Vincent Sandoval. I recommend tap dancers at any level to try out these classes. Whether you’re like me and can’t help but click your feet all day, or someone who’s always wanted to try it out, shuffle down to Ballet Austin and try a Rhythm/Swing or Broadway Show Tap Class. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Get started any time at the BCS. Check out the variety of dance classes offered each week. Tap not your thing? Ballet, Jazz, West African, Bollywood, Zumba®, and much more to get you moving and having fun!

 
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