In April 2009, Washington, D.C., was bustling with activity. Sure, there was a new president in town, but the real excitement near the White House was the tappers who stormed the capitol city at the first ever D.C. Tap Festival. Now, one year later, co-directing sisters Chloe and Maud Arnold are bringing the three-day festival back with an all-star faculty including Jason Samuels Smith and Jason Janas. We caught up with Chloe to chat about the event, which takes place March 26–28.
Dance Spirit: How was the D.C. Tap Festival born?
Chloe Arnold: After Maud graduated from college in 2008, we wanted to do something together to foster more tap programming around the county. We grew up in D.C. and we were exposed to so many masters of tap, including Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Ted Levy and Jimmy Slyde. Those experiences made us want to become tap dancers. So Maud and I teamed up to continue to provide tap exposure to dancers of all ages. Our main goal and wish is to emphasize the ideas of unity, education and inspiration to the tap world. People can come to this festival to meet new people, be inspired and find a love for the art.
DS: What are some of the highlights of the weekend?
CA: We provide classes, history sessions with Harold Cromer and Dianne Walker, opportunities to perform in a student showcase and a jam session with live musicians. And if the dancers are really brave, they can battle in the Cutting Contest.
DS: What is your favorite part of the festival?
CA: The students range in age from 6 to 80! To see many generations come together and celebrate one art form is beautiful. We also offer free outreach classes to the public. For the students who may not be able to afford a full weekend festival, this is an opportunity to have tap right at their fingertips.
Photo of Maud Arnold at the 2009 D.C. Tap Festival courtesy D.C. Tap Festival