Tag Archives: dance

Image

Gregory Hines: We Just Don’t teach #Tapdance.

THIS week so many people are reflecting on the great #GregoryHines (Gregory Hines Tribute Taplegacy Website) because Feb 14th was his birthday. Among other things, #Optap (Operation Tap) was posting great memories of the man, Jane Goldberg has been sharing fantastic intimate emails she has been making available to the public, and Andrew Nemr was kind enough to send me a personal message asking about my interaction with Mister Hines. This blog is a slight more in depth version of what I shared with Andrew.

THE universe was kind enough to have me meet and interact with Gregory Hines twice. The first time was the summer of 1997. Gregory came to the Union Square Theatre, in NYC, to see “Tap Dogs”. Although I was supposed to perform that night, I had only been in the cast a few weeks by that point and someone played the seniority card, so I had to sit for that show. I was, however, tasked with bringing Mister Hines a handwritten note. At the 5 minute call, I left backstage and walked into the house, down the aisle, and found Gregory in his seat. I introduced myself to one of my favorite dance icons ever, and handed him the note. The note was an invitation to meet with the cast backstage after the show. He was kind, had this amazing energy that radiated a very positive vibe, asked my name, and thanked me.

AFTER the show, Gregory came backstage to chat with that cast. He was very impressed with it. He especially enjoyed the “Triggers” (a set of 6 drum pads that we played with our feet) section of the show and mentioned it reminded him of the scene in the movie “Tap” where his shoes were turned into electric drum sounds. He was totally into the show and was glowing because of how happy he was seeing what Dein Perry (Choreographer of “Tap Dogs”, “Hot Shoe Shuffle”, 2000 Sydney Opening Olympics, “Bootmen”, “Happy Feet 2”) had created and how clean, precise, funny, and energetic the show was. It felt really good to be part of “Tap Dogs”, but it felt even better to have the positive input of someone I held in such high regard. He spoke very highly of what we were doing and what had been achieved by Dein, & the cast, for tap dance, itself.

THE second time I met Gregory Hines was on the street in Manhattan. The first time meeting him was amazing; the second time was life changing. We were both attending “Steel City” at Radio City Music Hall and ran into each other near the stage door. The first thing that blew me away was the fact that he recognized me and remembered my name. We started chatting and continued to do so for about 20-30 minutes. It was about that time a young child recognized Gregory and came up to us. It was a short exchange, but definitely had a beautiful effect on that young man. Then it lead Gregory to say something to me that greatly changed the course of my life. He expressed the fact that we should always teach and share whatever knowledge we have to keep tap alive and well. He said something to the effect of “we don’t just teach tap dance, we teach life through tap dance.” Simple, brilliant, and very wise words. I was always a teacher, but this changed everything for me. I will always remember that. Those words were so special and continue to be relevant to this day.

THIS past year, I produced a show in NYC entitled “Sounds of a #Taplife”  It encompasses life, tap dance, and a few monologues. In the opening monologue, I tell a bit of the story of Gregory and me on the street. Most importantly, I mention Gregory and I share that quote with the audience. It is one of the most important things anyone has ever said to me in my life and I am grateful everyday for having had that knowledge bestowed onto me. Thank you Gregory, for being such an inspiration to not only tap dancers, but to humanity.

(In recent news, “Sounds of a #Taplife” will be adding 20 minutes of new material and has just confirmed that it will show again on 11/11/16. This date happens to be the Friday night of the 2016 Big Apple Tap Festival. It will returning to Dixon Place in NYC.)

Thoughts When I Judge a Competition

Straight forward list that you can apply before going to another dance competition:

  • The more energy you put into the floor, the more energy you get out of the floor
  • In a lyrical piece, think of yourself as the Ambassador of the emotional journey we are about witness through you
  • Don’t present disconnected movement; Engage in connected dance.
  • In a dance you should show me a complete thought, but not in the first two 8 counts, because, then where do you go?
  • I don’t really want to see a Fouette or Illusion until it is stage ready
  • Do tap turns in a tap dance
  • Don’t Tap on the floor, tap 1 to 6 inches into the floor
  • What count is the spot on? Spot on the accent
  • Spatial Awareness: A strong command of understanding staging and spacing is crucial for a performer
  • I miss Jazz Dances. Nobody does a true Jazz dance anymore, I miss good musical theatre too
  • Show me you can feel the music. Make me want to watch you. Connected with the audience
  • Count! and know your accents
  • Transitions! Sharp or elongated….
  • Let’s see Contractions and isolations
  • Make sure your energy matches the energy of the music you are performing to
  • Tap: knees over your toes
  • Musical Theatre: Dance as the Character you are playing, not as yourself

There ya go. There are other things but this is a great list you can think about and immediately apply in rehearsals for upcoming competitions. Hope this is helpful.

2014 Summer Florida Tap Tour Recap

Hi – Been a while and I thought it was time to post something in the TapLife blog. For the past two years I have had an amazing time setting up and teaching a Summer Studio Workshop Tap Tour in Florida. Well, at least that was the idea. It didn’t take long for it to go from a few tap classes to performances with Noise Complaint and an appearance at a tap festival to become part of the experience. After the first year Jenne wrote about our travels together and the article was published in Florida Dance Magazine. To keep with that tradition I asked Jenne to submit an article that I could add to the Taplife Blog. So, without further ado, this years submission of the 2014 Summer Tap Tour, By my friend, student, assistant & peer, Jenne Vermes.  

-Tap w/u Soon, Anthony Lo Cascio

Summer Tap Tour – Take 2!

Master Tap Teacher Anthony Lo Cascio Returns to Florida to Educate, Inspire and Perform (Article By: Jenne Vermes – Staff Writer, Choreographer, Professor, Novelist, Dance Teacher and Director of Noise Complaint Tap Company)

The world of tap dance is full of masters, and the best part is each one brings something unique to the game. For the second year in a row, studios and workshops throughout Florida were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from a tap master whose style is different, innovative and fun. Anthony Lo Cascio, who was the first American with a role and a 17 year Veteran of  the international sensation Tap Dogs, is currently a on faculty at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, director of Taplife Company and can be found teaching workshops across the United States.

This past summer, his travels and workshops led him back to our neck of the woods, Florida. Here he shared his gifts and knowledge of tap dance with several dance studios, the SoFlo Tap Fest, Pensacola State and, as a new addition to the tour, audiences at both CONJure and Tampa Bay Comic Con. Anthony’s credentials as a performer, as well as his teaching experience with major conventions such as Dance Olympus and Dance Caravan, are what got him on the Sunny Florida Map in the first place. However,  it is his unique personality and style of teaching that has people asking him to come back again and again. He truly inspires everyone; Students, teachers, parents, business owners, and audience members alike, if you cross his path, you will feel the effects.

Just like last year, his first event this summer was to teach at the PSC Summer Dance Workshop, a week-long workshop at Pensacola State College. Anthony is a veteran teacher working with this program, everyone from locals to students who travel from all over the southeast participate in this workshop. While in Pensacola, he traditionally Choreographers at Five Flags Dance, This summer he had the pleasure of setting a piece of choreography on their youngest competition team. That piece will be performed this coming season. (Side note – After two years of assisting Anthony at this event, I have now earned my own spot on Faculty and will be teaching my own classes at the 2015 PSC Summer Workshop).

Later on in the summer, after a quick trip to NY where he had the honor of performing the marriage ceremony for two of his best friends, Rev. A Lo , as his friends efficiently now call him, returned to Florida to strat the tour portion of the Summer. He brought his teachings to Arts Edge School of Dance and Theatre in Fleming Island, Abella’s School of Ballet in St Augustine, Tampa Gymnastics and Dance, Rizing Starz Dance Academy and Jeanne Lynn Dance Studio in the Tampa Bay area. Anthony alos performed as a guest artist with the professional tap ensemble, Noise Complaint at two major conventions in the state: ConJure and Tampa Bay Comic Con. For the first time he shared his talents with the world of cosplay. He performed his choreography, as well as my choreography, with the ensemble. Yes, we all did cosplay as prominent video game and anime characters. It was awesomesauce.

In a special edition to the Summer Tap Tour Anthony was a faculty member at the SoFlo Tap Festival. Anthony taught along side master teachers from around the country such as Aaron Tolson, Acia Gray and Derrick Grant. What sets Anthony’s choreography  apart from many other teachers is his emphasis on foundation, as well as, crossrhythms and counterpoint (essentially this is when two or more rhythms are happening at the same time). He not only challenges the students to learn new and intricate material, but he also teaches them to be able to hear how parts can fit together, simultaneously, to create even more complex rhythms and music. Anthony loves to bring something unique for his classes to experience.

In Nov. 2013 Anthony started his own tap company, TapLife, and this summer, in between his Florida travels, he released the new video Taplife Music Video, a solo project titled “Lucky To Be Alive”. This video is a Collaboration between two distinguished artists. Anthony performs his choreography in his smooth style to the original song, “Lucky to be Alive”. “Lucky to be Alive” is written and performed by respected New York City Singer/Songwriter, Frank Persico*. Anthony filmed this performance and posted it on youtube, where it found several thousand views in it’f first few days of release. It can be found at http://tinyurl.com/luckytaplife.

Anthony LoCascio has a great deal to share with the tap dance community as well as the entire world. “Ultimately, I guess my whole life experience has been different than most other tap dancers. And although I believe the destination can be more important than the journey, it is my unique journey that gives me such a different different approach to tap dancing. My style, my material, my insights, and, the way I teach, will determine what my legacy, and over all impact, will eventually be on the tap dance world. If any impact at all.” Spoken to me, by Anthony, during one of our many conversations.

Anthony is presently on staff at Broadway Dance Center in NYC, and continues to teach master classes around the country as well as internationally. He is on faculty at the Big Apple Tap Festival, and he is one of the founders of the London Tap Spree. For more information about how to have Anthony Lo Cascio teach choreograph or perform at your studio or event, you can contact him by messaging him via Facebook (www.facebook.com/thetaplife) You can also learn more about him and follow him at the following social media sites:

 

The “Lucky to be Alive” Taplife Music Video can be found at:

Original Taplife Music Videowww.tinyurl.com/taplifelucky

Live at the Big Apple Tap Festwww.tinyurl.com/taplifeluckylive

Social Media:

Twitter: @mytaplife

Instagram: http://instagram.com/anthonylocascio

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetaplife

YouTube: www.youtube.com/just4tap

Website: www.thetaplife.com

Get your own Taplife Gear – Anthony and I have created #TapLife merchandise that includes T-shirts, hoodies, dance pants, bags, hats, keychains and more. Designs include #taplife as well as #balletlife, #jazzlife, #hiphoplife, #stagelife, and more! To check out their store, visit www.cafepress.com/taplife

 

*For more on Frank – Twitter@FrankPersico, www.frankpersico.com and www.reverbnation.com/frankpersico Frank’s song Lucky to be Alive is featured on his new EP – Live From Rockwood Musichall. This EP is currently available for download on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/live-at-rockwood-music-hall/id947685170