Though tap BFFs Aaron Tolson and Derick K. Grant dance together today (they co-created the show Imagine Tap), they took different routes throughout their respective dance careers: Grant grew up hoofing at tap festivals while Tolson was educated on the competition circuit. Now, they’re working together to bridge the festival and competition worlds with Tap2You, a two-day event that’s part tap competition, part workshop. We caught up with Tolson to find out more about the event, which takes place in Lowell, MA, May 8–9.
Dance Spirit: Where did you guys come up with the idea for a tap-only competition?
Aaron Tolson: In the tap world, “competition” is sort of a dirty word. Typically dancers go to competitions for two reasons: to perform and to get constructive criticism on how they can be better. But tap dancers don’t always get the best evaluations because most judges have less knowledge about tap. We want to provide a panel of tap experts to give feedback specifically for tap dancers.
DS: What exactly will the Tap2You weekend entail?
AT: It’s going to be the best parts of a competition and the best parts of a festival. The competition will be on the first day—everyone from beginner
to advanced tappers can enter. On the second day, we’ll offer classes, an awards ceremony and a showcase. Plus the dancers will be taking classes with the judges—Derick, Michelle Dorrance and myself.
DS: What will you be looking for when you’re scoring the tap numbers?
AT: There are so many different types of good tap numbers and we want to see them all! Some people include turns and leaps in their tap routines, and that’s OK. But mostly we’re looking for strong timing, sense of rhythm, personality and excitement.
Photo of Tap2You's founders Aaron Tolson (left) and Derick K. Grant courtesy Aaron Tolson