Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards Writes a Letter to Her Teenage Self
When Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards taps, people listen. She performs with grace, elegance, precision and speed—not to mention that she can hit as hard as any of the guys. After an early start at age 3, Dormeshia made her Broadway debut at 12 alongside Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Buster Brown and Jimmy Slyde in the revue Black and Blue. Not bad for a pre-teen! She has also performed with L.A.'s Jazz Tap Ensemble, was featured in the movie TAP and was the first female dancer in Savion's Tony Award–winning Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk.
Last year, Dormeshia starred in the film The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang as a former tap prodigy who rediscovers her love of dance. She currently directs Harlem Tap (harlemtap.com) with her husband, fellow tapper Omar Edwards, and teaches at tap festivals around the world. Where can you catch up with this busy dancer, teacher, choreographer and mom? At press time, she was already on the lineups of the St. Louis Tap Festival (July 21-26), Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Rhythm World Summer Festival (July 21–August 3) and the Bay Area Tap Festival (August 10-17)! —Kathryn Holmes
Since your goal is to be a tap dancer, you must understand that it comes with great responsibilities.
Your teachers, Paul and Arlene Kennedy, introduced you to Honi Coles, Frances Nealy, Ralph Brown, John Bubbles, Eddie Brown and so many others at a very early age. You've had the chance to grow up around these great tap dancers. They let you in on some of their secrets and share steps and sing songs with you. These great and successful tap dancers are sharing their knowledge of the dance—with you! They are passing it on and you must do the same. But before you do, understand your responsibility. You must not mistreat this information. You are being given precious and valuable jewels, so take them, get to know them, make them your own and share them with other dancers who love tap the way you do.
You have a responsibility to keep learning and to pass on what you've learned. Being a tap dancer is really not about you; a tap dancer's responsibility is to the dance itself. You're representing a whole artform, and the dancers who came before you. You're inspiring your peers in the dance. You're nurturing the generation of dancers after you. Passing it on—that's what it's really all about.
I know that you love and respect the dance wholeheartedly, so remember your foundation, stay focused on your goal, maintain humility in your success and your life in tap dancing will be fulfilled.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
The 2018 Oscar noms are here. Which is fun and all; we'll never not get excited about a night of glitz and glamor and, when we're lucky, pretty great dancing. But we'd be a heck of a lot more excited if the Academy Awards included a Best Choreography category. And really—why don't they?
The dancers who take our breath away are the risk-takers, the ones who appear completely fearless onstage. "When you see somebody trying to travel more, go farther, push the limits of their physical abilities, that's always going to be inspiring," says Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher.
But dance training can feel like it's in conflict with that idea. We spend thousands of hours in the studio trying to do steps perfectly, and that pursuit of perfection can make us anxious about taking risks. What if we fail? What if we fall?
Luckily, fearlessness is a mental skill that you can work on, just as you work on your technique. Here's how you can learn to push yourself past your limits.
Maud Arnold is one of the busiest tap dancers on the planet. As a member of the Syncopated Ladies, Maud—along with her big sis and fellow tapper Chloé Arnold—is on constantly the road for performances, workshops, and master classes. For the average person, that kind of schedule could lead to a serious derailment of healthy habits. But Maud's far from average. Here's how the fit, fierce, flawless tap star stays stage-ready—no matter what time zone she finds herself in.
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Auditioning for summer intensives in person may be the ideal—but for Anna McDowell, a 16-year-old student at Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, AK, it's rarely possible. “Living in Alaska, it's difficult to travel to auditions," she says. “It gets way too expensive!" Instead, each year, with help from her teachers and a videographer, she puts together a well-crafted video and submits it to schools around the country. Last year, her high-quality video helped her earn acceptance to nearly every program she applied for. Most summer intensive programs, eager to attract students from far and wide, will accept video auditions from those who can't travel to take class. But major schools look at hundreds of submissions each year, which means video auditioners have just a few minutes—or even seconds—to make a great impression. If you're about to create an audition video, follow these tips from the professionals to put your best digital foot forward.
There are zillions of things to think about when choosing a summer program, but here's one you might not have considered: using an intensive as an opportunity to focus on a new style. Maybe you're a tap dancer who's ready to see where else your rhythm and quick feet can serve you, or a contemporary dancer curious about the more traditional roots of your genre. A summer program can be the perfect place to broaden your horizons, giving you the opportunity to make technical and artistic changes that stick throughout the year.