by Annette WalkerRead the full report on the LUTSF website (PDF)
The project outline
The Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship Award enabled me to undertake the international travel element of my Trailblazer Fellowship (Sept 2009- Nov 2010), which was awarded by The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD). My Trailblazer Fellowship project involved professional development in my career as a tap dancer. The aim was to develop skills and experience to work more closely with musicians in order to fully integrate tap into a jazz band. As well as ongoing tap training I was also developing my musicianship by training as a musician and had begun working more closely with a jazz trio for tap dance performances prior to the project. Travelling to New York was a key element of research in the relationship between jazz and tap, and training in tap dance.
Dates of travel to New York USA, July 1st – August 6th 2010
- Attend Heather Cornell’s Manhattan Tap New York City intensive, 12th–23rd July 2010
- Research archives at The Lincoln Center: New York Library for the Performing Arts
My previous experience of travelling to New York City enabled me to be prepared for the many opportunities that appear in a short space of time. Below is an outline of tap and jazz related events that were either recommended or I find out about whilst in the city. There were also many other events and social activities related to dance and music that contributed to the purpose of my trip.
- The World of Tap Dance: A two-day celebration, 6th – 7th July 2010 (Conference hosted by Brian Seibert)
- Tap City: The New York City Tap Festival Awards ceremony, screening, show, 8th-9th July 2010 (Festival)
- Savion Glover’s SoLE PoWER, 8th July 2010 (Tap/Dance theatre)
- Tap Jam at Smalls jazz club, 4th & 25th July 2010 (Tap/live jazz show)
- Heather Cornell’s BBQ & jam, 17th July (Tap/live music show and jam)
- Barry Harris Trio at the Village Vanguard (Live jazz show)
- Malika Zarra at Bar 55 (Live jazz show)
- Roxane Butterfly’s tap performance, 31st July 2010 (Tap/live jazz show)
- Cotton Club Swing Dance Night, 2nd August (Live entertainment: tap, big band and social swing dance)
- Lafayette Harris Jr Quartet at Zinc Bar, 4th August 2010 (Live jazz show)
- Choro Ensemble at Zinc Bar, 4th August 2010 (Live jazz show)
How far the purpose of the project was achieved
As far as the trip to New York it matched my expectations and provided the grounding and experience I was aiming for. The two-week tap intensive was challenging but in very supportive environment that helped ensure it was an enjoyable experience. It was particularly grounding to be amongst other professionals and share knowledge and experience of tap and jazz. When I returned to London I was pleased to find musicians relating to me as a musician as well as a dancer since this was one of the purposed of the project.
As indicated by the list of additional activities above, I was able to attend numerous events and jams in New York. The only element of my trip that could have improved was to have more time for research at the Lincoln Center although I managed to see some archived footage of tap dance and live music theatre shows as I had planned.
There were so many interesting events happening while I was in NY but some great moments have to be the impromptu dinners and informal discussions with an eclectic mix of people from the international tap dance community. I made good connections with other international professional tap dancers and New York-based musicians. Working with musicians during the intensive was a great experience as it enabled me to realise my existing skills and build confidence as a tap dancing musician.
Another highlight was my surprise to see AboutTime included in the World of Tap Dance conference, presented by Brain Seibert, during the segment of tap dance in Britain/ Ireland.
Suggestions for future Awardees
It helps to allow for flexibility within a planned schedule. I had tentatively planned to attend a tap dance festival during my first week in New York. It turned out I was too unwell to do the festival classes during the first few days but I was able to attend tap conferences, screenings and shows, which turned out well, if not better than planned.
Always plan rest time. I was fortunate to able to extend my trip in order to cover further research elements since I was so exhausted after the intensive!
A Trailblazer’s journey: Thinking, planning and doing
Included in the report was my article that featured in ADAD’s Hotfoot magazine, Special edition, Sept 2010Read the full report on the LUTSF website (PDF)