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At the Royal Dance Academy in National Park (from left), Christopher Pietrowski, 11; Brianna Daniels, 18; and TJ Koger, 11, practice a tap routine. (Charles Mostoller) 2016


By Catherine Laughlin
The Inquirer
February 04, 2016


[National Park, New Jersey, USA] – Outside in the frigid air, what sound like thunderclaps come rumbling from behind the glass storefront on a dim thoroughfare in National Park. Inside, the culprit: Two diminutive 11-year-old boys are burning up the Royal Dance Academy’s wooden floor, tap-dancing to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

TJ Koger and Christopher Pietrowski, both of West Deptford, active in the dance and theater communities since they were toddlers, leaped into tap history in December when they won a gold medal in the children’s trio division at the International Dance Organization Tap Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany – the tap equivalent of the Olympics. They were among 35 American participants in the 1,500-person event, and two of three competitors from the Philadelphia area. Briana Daniels, 18, of Deptford, won a silver medal.

For more than a century, tap dance – a mix of African step and Irish jig – has been shuffling its way across stages (Broadway, cruise ships, cabarets), enjoying bouts of mainstream momentum (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire during the 1930s and ’40s, then Happy Feet movies in the 2000s, and last summer’s documentary Tap World), only to recede again into the wings. But tap enthusiasts say the dance discipline never goes away; in fact, recent events show another tap wave a-comin’.

In September, 36-year-old artist Michelle Dorrance (she and her tap troupe Dorrance Dance debuted in Philadelphia in December) was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, receiving $625,000 over five years to pursue creativity in tap dance.

Nancy Chippendale, director of the American Tap Company in Boston, and organizer of TEAM USA for the IDO competitions, says Dorrance’s MacArthur Fellowship gives incredible exposure to the art form. “And there are reality dance shows and the Internet keeping tap in people’s minds,” she said. And Broadway’s Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, opening in April and starring Audra McDonald. The all-black musical is a reprise, created by accomplished tapper Savion Glover and director George C. Wolfe.

Christopher Pietrowski (left), Brianna Daniels, and TJ Koger take turns practicing two-minute routines before a wall of mirrors (The Inquirer) 2016

On this January night, Koger, Pietrowski and Daniels, wearing red-white-and-blue TEAM USA sweat suits, take turns hoofing in two-minute stretches before a wall of mirrors. Slap, stomp, shuffle! They go through a repertoire of routines, smiling at a make-believe audience. After the music stops, they pivot to a lunge. But Koger doesn’t stop shuffling. “I just like performing,” he says cheekily.

Asked who inspires them as tappers, immediately Pietrowski says, “Elvis!”

Hmm, because of the way he moved those hips?

“No. I want to be a tap dancer who becomes as popular as he was!”

The instructor, Stephen May, 24, wearing an atypical wardrobe of jeans, boots, and an athletic shirt, shakes his head in mock disbelief. No doubt the tap scene would welcome some “All Shook Up” craze.

Mays says that when he was growing up, famous tappers Gregory Hines, known for his heavy, low-to-the-ground funky style, and his protégé Glover were his inspiration. Today, he singles out Israeli dancers Avi Miller and Ofer Ben as fixtures fostering tap dance.

Like so many other male dancers, May’s career in the female-dominated tap world (some estimates are one to 10) began when he accompanied his cousin to her recital. “I was about 4, and I pointed to the stage and said, ‘I want to do that,’ ” he recalls. He later moved to New York City and “really immersed” himself in tap’s myriad styles. “I teach my kids a little of everything – Broadway, soft-shoe, buck and wing, waltz clog . . .”

Theresa Pietrowski, Christopher’s mother and owner of the Royal Dance Academy, admits she worried her son wouldn’t be considered cool among other guys when he started taking lessons, even though most famous tappers are male. And yet, a couple of boys in his class have asked him to teach them.

Whether they are boys or girls, older or younger – “Tap dancing can be picked up at any age,” she says – Pietrowski encourages her students to attend tap festivals for their inclusive spirit, the chance to take master classes, and see performance and award shows.

Although festivals aren’t new – dozens have been around for 20 years – more festivals spotlighting the American art form have popped up internationally in Brazil, Australia, Tokyo, Vancouver, and Stockholm.

Tap City, the American Tap Dance Foundation’s weeklong festival in New York City, draws participants from across the United States and 15 countries. It’s one of the oldest and more viable, entering its 16th year in July. Tony Waag, a 40-year tap veteran and the foundation’s director, says he sees more producers nationally creating buzz with versatile tap shows. “I just came back from California, and it seemed like there’s a tap dance studio in every little town.”

The tap scene is diversifying, as well. Kat Richter, founder of the Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble in Philadelphia, formed her all-female company in 2011, partly to give female choreographers a platform. But the ensemble’s dance philosophies don’t always stay faithful to tap tradition: It has featured a barefoot tap show and another in which dancers played plastic milk crates, à la Stomp. Another of Richter’s methods for revitalizing tap in Philadelphia is the company’s weekly Sunday drop-in class.

When Pamela Hetherington noticed the lack of a tap subculture in Philadelphia’s dance world more than 15 years ago, she “started pushing it.”

Eventually, in 2013, Hetherington quit her day job as a publishing editor and founded Take It Away Dance. Her tap troupe not only showcases movement and sound, but collaborates with live vocalists and instrumentalists. Like her spring performance at the Singing Fountain on Passyunk Square, the cross-cultural events often are outside. The vibe is engaging, supportive. “I want the audience to see and hear how tap dance sounds with a cello, a violin, or drums, at the same time someone is singing jazz. These are all parts of its early roots.”


Copyright 2016 The Inquirer

Youngster has won a place at  Elmhurst School for Dance

By Kate Stenhouse
Nottingham Post
July 16, 2013

Matteo Rollini, 8, has been accepted into the Elmhurst School for Ballet  2013

[Nottingham, England] – When dancer Lesley Rollini had three sons, she never dreamed that one day one of her off-spring would be following in her foot steps. But her son Matteo, eight, took up the hobby just over a year ago and has already proved himself to be a budding Billy Elliot – landing a place at the Royal Ballet in Birmingham.

Mrs Rollini, founder of the Lesley Rollini School of Dance in West Bridgford, said: “Matteo has only been dancing with me for just over a year; he actually started with gymnastics and then he decided that dance was what he wanted to focus on.”

She added that despite her dance background, Matteo hadn’t always shown an interest in dance. “He started when he was very little, I took him along when he was about three to my little ones class, but I could tell he wasn’t focused and he didn’t really want to do it, so I didn’t pursue it.

“It was only as he got older, seeing his brothers build up, he wanted to do the same, and he’s the type of body shape for gymnastics, and they took him straight away and there’s some dance rhythm in gymnastics and he just started to enjoy it.

“Now, he asks to come along to all my classes, even my private ones.”

Matteo received top marks in his Royal Academy of Dance exams and has now been offered a place at the Elmhurst School for Ballet, in association with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, one of the major UK ballet companies.

Matteo will be taking up his place in September and will be balancing it alongside school at St Edmund Campion Catholic academy, with school during the week and ballet classes at weekends.

Matteo said: “I’m used to doing both and I prefer dancing anyway.”

In May this year, the Post reported on another of Mrs Rollini’s pupils, 11-year-old William Smith, who achieved a place at the Northern Ballet Academy.

Mrs Rollini said: “This is amazing and, for me, it’s a double whammy as it’s not only a pupil it’s also my son, and only having three sons, I never thought I’d get this.”

Mrs Rollini’s school is one to watch as her other up-and-comers seem set for stardom. She said: “I’ve got a little boy who comes to classes who will have to wait to audition next year because of his age, he’s only been with me a couple of months.

“I’ve got some beautiful girls, too, I’ve already approached parents about them. One girl, she’s beautiful and she’s one of those dancers that takes your breath away. Her mummy said to me, ‘you’ve changed my daughter, she now wants to dance for a career’.”

Copyright © 2013 Local World

Related Article: A remarkable young dancer has won a scholarship to the Northern Ballet Academy


Luke Spring, a tap-dance prodigy, takes the national stage

By Rebecca Ritzel
Photograph by Melanie Burford
The Washington Post
July 19, 2013

Luke Spring,10,placed third at the NYCDA competition (Melanie Burford) 2013

The future of tap dancing in America may rest on the small shoulders of a four-foot-tall, 52-pound, 10-year-old boy from Ashburn [Loudoun County, north of Washington, D.C.].

Luke Spring is a YouTube darlingwho is even more astonishing in person. Locally, he has been impressing the dance and theater community since 2010, but his fame has since rocketed to New York stages and national TV. Luke’s four-year career got another boost earlier this month, when he placed third in the Mini Division (for 7-10-year-olds) at the New York City Dance Alliance’s National Outstanding Dancer competition. Had the competition just been just tap, Luke would have won, wingtips down.

Read the Entire Story:

© 2013 The Washington Post


Teenager awarded scholarship to Performers College

By Elizabeth Mackley
The Swindon Advertiser
July 25, 2013

Joey Goodwin,17, has won a scholarship to Performers College 2013[Wiltshire, England] – A teenager is taking his next step towards realising a childhood dream after winning a scholarship to a prestigious dance school. Seventeen-year-old Joey Goodwin is celebrating after finding out a chance audition last month has won him a place at Performers College in Essex.

“You always hope something is going to come out of an audition but it was a huge surprise,” said Joey, a student at the Judith Hockaday School of Dance and Drama. Originally I wasn’t going to audition this year; at the last minute I thought I would audition just for a bit of experience. Then I found out they wanted me and then they gave me the scholarship. It was a bit of an accident really.”

Joey competed against 80 other dancers during a gruelling day of auditions including a physiotherapy assessment, classes in ballet and jazz, singing and drama as well as an interview.

Now after winning the government funded DaDa scholarship, awarded to about 30 students at the college each year and which will pay for all his school fees, Joey is preparing to start the three-year course. He will continue to develop his tap, ballet, and modern dancing skills as well as drama and singing and taking part in numerous performances.

He said: “I’m very excited, nervous, but excited, and it’s all getting a bit closer. My dream is to be on the West End in a West End show, but anything to do with theatre and performing is what I want to do.”

Joey said: “I just want to say a big thank you to Miss Hockaday, she’s been absolutely amazing and without her none of this would have happened.”

Joey who lives in Oakhurst, started dancing when he was five years old learning Latin, ballroom, and street dance. When he was 11 he took up ballet, which is now his favourite style. Ever since then he has been working his way towards his dream of becoming a professional dancer.

As well as training eight hours every day in school and carrying out his own workout at home, Joey also teaches throughout Swindon and Oxfordshire.

Judith Hockaday, principal at the dance school in Old Town, said: ”I am really pleased. He’s a nice boy too and he’s worked really hard. He’s done an amazing amount since last September. He will be a really nice teacher too.”

© Copyright 2013   Newsquest

By Taryn Utiger
The South Taranaki Star
Febuary 4, 2013

Reuben Chan, 8, at the Taranaki Fancy Dancing Association Easter Competitions (Photo by Jonathan Cameron) 2013[Taranaki, New Zealand] – Tutus and tap shoes took to the Theatre Royal stage in New Plymouth this weekend [February 2], but it wasn’t just girls who were vying for awards at the dancing competitions. Budding ballet dancer Reuben Chan was the only boy entered in the glitter-filled Taranaki Fancy Dancing Association Easter competitions.

The 8-year-old, who had been dancing since he was 4, was enjoying the weekend and was not worried by the 130 girls in the competition. “Dancing is fun, sometimes you can get nervous, but if you do you just don’t think about the people who are there,” he said.

Reuben, who goes to Moturoa Primary, performed four dances over the three-day event and thoroughly enjoyed his tap solo. “My mum made my red pants for it,” he said.

The dancer, who trains at the Chere McGregor Dance School, is not limited to tap and ballet, he also studies ballroom dancing, guitar, singing and is learning to play the flute.

Reuben’s mother, Jenny Chan, was a dancer when she was younger and said male dancers learn a different style to their female counterparts. “There are no pretty hand movements and no pretty feet movements. A different structure has to be taught.”

Mrs Chan, who is an assistant dance teacher, said she would continue to encourage Reuben to dance as long as he continued to enjoy it. “He gets a lot of self-confidence from dancing and he has a lot of fun too. That is really good for him,” she said.

Mrs Chan, who said she practically lives in dance studios, said her son was not having any difficulty being the only boy in his class. “His teacher thinks he is quite special and he gets on well with the girls, so as long as nobody teases him he will keep enjoying it,” she said.

© 2013 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

By Geralda Miller
The Reno Gazette-Journal
January 4, 2013

[Reno, Nevada, USA] – Logan Strand saw the movie “Happy Feet” and all he wanted after that was to be able to move his feet like Mumble. “Something about that little penguin dancing and being himself kind of moved me,” the 11-year-old said. “They had a little thing where the guy who did the tapping for ‘Happy Feet’ showed you the basic moves and the basic keys of tapping. And I just said to my mom, ‘Mom, I want to do that. I want to do that.’”

His mother, Diane Strand, grew up dancing and performed in MGM Grand’s “Hello Hollywood, Hello,” so she knew to contact Kia Crader, owner and dance teacher at Fascinating Rhythm School of Performing Arts in south Reno, who also performed in the casino production.

Logan was 5 when he put on his first pair of tap shoes in Crader’s boys-only tap class. He’s been dancing ever since. He’s one of 16 children currently performing in the Eldorado Showroom’s holiday production of “Aladdin.”

Although for most of the local children, performing in the Eldorado Showroom might be considered major league, it isn’t for Logan. He’s acted in commercials, had a part in a major film for Paramount Studios, auditioned on Broadway and danced in the Christmas show with the Rockettes in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

“Logan was born for the stage,” Crader said. “He is a funny, intelligent and quirky kid who takes to the stage like a fish to water. He is truly in his element when he is performing.”

Tap dance kid

It started with tap classes every Thursday. Luckily, Crader offered a boys-only class because Logan didn’t want to dance with girls.

“Then all the boys from my boys tap class quit, eventually,” he said. “Then Miss Kia brought me into the girls tap class. I was there with these older girls. From then on, I was only in a few classes where I was with other boys and the rest of the time girls, girls, girls everywhere.”

But tap wasn’t enough. He wanted to take hip-hop dance, jazz and even acting classes. His mom insisted that he first learn ballet. “I’m not going to spend my money on hip-hop and jazz because ballet is the foundation of all dance,” she said. “I said, ‘If you really want to seriously be a dancer, you have to take ballet. I’m just telling you this from a dancer’s perspective.’”

Logan associated ballet with pink tutus, and Strand had to explain that the girls wear the tutus, not the boys. “So he tried it, ended up really liking it and being fairly good at it,” she said.

Logan is passionate about performing, to the point that just to talk about it brings him to tears. “Dancing and acting and just performing, it’s not just something I do, it’s part of my life,” he said. “It’s my life. It’s what I do. Some people think, ‘Oh, that’s just a thing you do. It’s no big deal. You’ll probably forget about it.’ I don’t want to forget about it. And when I do dance or perform, it makes feel like I’m my true self. I feel like I know myself and this is what I’m happy doing.”

Paramount beginnings

Not only did Logan want to dance, he wanted to act. “I kept thinking, the more he tried it, that he would find out it was real work,” Strand said. “Kids see this and they think oh, it’s fun and glamorous. I said, ‘You don’t understand that it’s real work, so I want you to experience what it really is.’” So, mom and her youngest son traveled to Los Angeles to audition at a few agencies. By the end of the trip, he had signed an agent.

Next, the 7-year-old got called to his first audition at Paramount Studios, where he ended up getting hired to play actor Eric Bana’s younger self in the film “Star Trek.” He even shaved his head for the part.

“It ended up after many trips to L.A., hours of him working on set, that they cut the entire scene,” she said. “But it’s in the DVD in the bonus features. And you see J.J. Abrams working with Logan and the boys as they put them in this basement. They had to work in the mud, in the cold.”

But Logan got paid. Now, the professional child actor has a Coogan trust account. “He’s got a nice little nest egg for when he’s an adult,” Strand said. “How many kids can say that? When he was working at Radio City for 20 minutes on stage, he was making more than I ever have as an adult.”

While in Los Angeles, Logan joined more than 300 youths at the Debbie Reynolds Studio to audition. “He went in to audition, and I’m looking at all these kids and saying, ‘There’s no way,’” his mom said. “And he was way taller than all the other kids.”

Logan ended up being fourth on the list and the third child didn’t want the job. “I remember just crying, probably lost 2 pounds from just crying that day because I was so happy,” he said. “I was not their first choice but that’s fine with me. Just being one of their choices is great. I went there and just being in that theater, it was amazing.”

Diane Strand and her son Logan,11,  who began dancing when he was 5 (Photo by Liz Margerum} 2013He worked for four months in Radio City Music Hall, dancing with 70 Rockettes.

Mom couldn’t help but be ecstatic. “I was in heaven,” she said. “I have to admit. As a dancer, that was the ultimate. I was so proud. I was walking two feet off of the sidewalk. Yes, maybe that one time I was living a fantasy through him. But he did that all on his own. I was just along for the ride.”

And what a ride it was.

While in New York, Logan signed with Shirley Grant Management, which is one of the top talent firms for youth. He also auditioned for the Broadway musical “Billy Elliot.” He was placed in a training camp for the character Michael, but the show got canceled in January.

Returning to Reno wasn’t easy. “I don’t know what it was, but emotionally he struggled, coming back and reconnecting with the kids here,” Strand said. “He was really struggling with the bullying and the sense of not knowing what to do.”

Back to reality

Logan said it was difficult at Roy Gomm Elementary School until he was placed in a school program. “It’s been hard,” he said, crying. “There always are those kids who are bullies. I have been called names, like ‘ballerina boy’ and other things. But thankfully, my parents, my family, my friends have always been there to support me through those things.”

Strand also made a big decision for her son.

“I decided it was time to stop, take him off of the books in Los Angeles, take him off the books in New York and just let him have at least a year of trying to stay here, be a kid,” she said. “If there are performance opportunities here he can do, good, fine. But it was becoming too much pressure.”

Although he has plenty of time to make up his mind, right now, Logan is torn about his future. He loves to dance, but he also loves reptiles and thinks it would be fun to be a herpetologist.

“I think as I get older there’s going to be a huge conflict between those two,” he said. “Someday, I’m going to have to decide. I don’t know right now. I’m just shunning that idea. One day, I don’t know. I’ll be whoever I’ll be.”

Copyright © 2013

By Kevin Doby
The Milan News-Leader
July 11, 2011

Ethan Wood loves to dance and his feet rarely stop moving. It doesn’t matter if the 11-year-old is dancing for hundreds of people, sitting down or at the grocery store with his family.

During the last weekend in June, his passion and enthusiasm for dance got him noticed by Kent Boyd, runner-up on Season 7 of the hit TV show, “So You Think You Can Dance?” and choreographer at the national Hollywood Vibe convention in Sandusky, Ohio

While instructing a group of more than 200 teen and older dancers, of which Ethan was a part of, Boyd told the students to start off with some improvisation. It was at that time Boyd noticed a floppy-haired boy who may not have had the best technique, but wowed him with his dancing.

“He asked me to come on stage (with some others) and then after asked if I wanted to do it again later with just him,” Ethan said. “I couldn’t help it, I started to cry.”

Ethan said it was improv skills that got Boyd to notice him. “There were so many other kids in the room, and some of them were really good. For Kent to pick me was a bit of a shock,” Ethan said.

So after Ethan calmed down and was ready to dance again, he and Boyd took the stage together in front of everyone at the convention to perform an improvised dance number.
“The way Kent followed Ethan was so cool,” Wuerthele said. “He would pick up on Ethan’s moves and it looked like they had planned it, like it had been rehearsed.”

But it was not planned. “It wasn’t about getting the steps down,” Ethan said, “it was about feeling it.”

After they finished, Ethan wasn’t the one crying, but others were. “The kids swarmed Ethan after he finished and they were crying,” said Dance Xplosion owner and tap instructor Heidi Wuertherle. “Some of the moms in the audience were crying. It was amazing.”

But Boyd wasn’t the first person to notice that Ethan had something unique to offer.
“The minute Ethan walked through the door and put on his tap shoes, I could tell there was something there,” Wuertherle said. “Just in the way his feet moved, and the passion he had for it. It was something special.”

“He’s always the entertainment at weddings,” said his mother, Kristen Adamski.

Ethan has been dancing since he was 3 years old, and started taking classes at Dance Xplosion in Milan when he was 5. He has learned numerous styles of dance, including tap, ballet, turns and leaps, hip-hop, modern and jazz. “My favorites are tap, hip-hop and modern, though,” Ethan said.

This was not the first convention Ethan has attended. His mother said they have been to four or five throughout the years. In October, they went to the Hollywood Vibe regional convention in Detroit.

At the convention in Sandusky, famous dancers and choreographers teach classes to kids in different age groups. The kids are divided into three groups, mini, junior and teen/senior. While not technically a teenager, Ethan’s ability placed him in the latter group.

In addition to the thrill of being able to dance with someone he looks up to, Ethan had more success at the convention. As a part of the convention, every student has to learn a dance combination and perform it in an audition-type setting. About 20 dancers from each division are then called back to perform the routine again for eight of the choreographers at the convention.

Three students from Dance Xplosion were among the students — Ethan, Lauren Smith and April Finkiewicz. Ten of those 20 are then selected and awarded a scholarship to attend any Hollywood Vibe Convention in the next year free of charge. Ethan was selected, as well as April.

While the conventions are a great place for kids to learn and hone their skills, they also provide a more esoteric benefit. “The conventions are a great source of inspiration for the kids,” Wuertherle said.

This can even be true for kids like Ethan who already enjoy and have a passion for dance. In a conversation with Boyd, Ethan learned that he shared something in common with the famous dancer. Boyd told Ethan that when he was growing up he wanted to be a soccer player to which Ethan responded: “I was going to be a basketball player, but because of you, I want to be a dancer.”

April said Ethan wasn’t the only one who left the convention inspired. While she was talking to Boyd, another parent came up and said to him, “You changed that little boys’ life.” To which Boyd reportedly responded, “No, he changed mine.”


© Copyright 2011 Heritage Newspapers

Photograph by Larry Beckner
The Great Falls Tribune
March 04, 2011


Watching a performance in the park, 7-year-old Chris Constantino was captivated by tap dancers. “I enjoyed the rhythm of it,” he said. “Both my parents play instruments and tapping is like its own instrument.”

A decade later, the Great Falls High School senior is one of the top teenage male tap dancers in the country.

In a snazzy tuxedo from Kaufmans, Constantino tap-danced his way to the Dance Educators of America Senior Boy Titlist rank at the national competition in Las Vegas last summer. His tap solo to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” received a platinum award, the highest given by the judges.

The accolades continued as Constantino was among five dancers chosen to perform from the more than 400 dancers in the competition at the banquet that was the culmination of the event.

This year, the defending titlist is wondering how to balance national competition and starting college. “I don’t know if I want to be in the dance world as a career, but it’s going to stay in my life,” he said.

Constantino is a student at Miss Linda’s School of Dance, where he’s part of a troupe that dances “about anything you can think of.” Jazz, hip-hop and African are among the genres they’ve explored.

Constantino starts the week at the studio with a Monday practice session that stretches from 4 to 9:15 p.m. He juggles practice and teaching through the week, has Friday off and then is back to practice on the weekend.

“Most of the time” it’s worth the sacrifice to pursue his art, he said. “It’s rewarding to go to a competition and do well and be recognized for all your hard work — but it’s not for everybody. “You get a lot of blisters, and I’ve lost a toenail or two,” he said. “It’s demanding and at times a little bloody.”

His winning “Fly Me to the Moon” dance was choreographed by teacher Jennifer Asprocolas, but this year Constantino and his friend Lexi Hughes put his dance together to Nat King Cole’s “L-o-v-e.”

“Choreography is a bit different with tap,” he said. “It’s not only moving but adding instrumentation — percussion — to the music. It’s definitely tricky.”

The pair worked on his moves for a week, but the dance continues to evolve. “We went with what worked and what sounded good,” he said. “Even while performing, I was adding new touches.”

Constantino said he enjoys the old standards by Billy Holiday, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the like. “They’re really easy to tap dance to and people like hearing it,” he said. “Everyone enjoys Frank Sinatra, and it’s how you would think tap dancing would be.”

And one of the benefits of that style of dance is “you don’t have to wear tights,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed dressing classy but I’m not too keen on sparkles and spandex,” he said. “But I enjoy the suits.”

Constantino’s favorite dance moves are wings and pull backs. “They’re crowd pleasing,” he said.

Wings involve moving one’s arms and legs in circles at once, and pull backs involve making two sounds while jumping back.

Constantino’s dance role models are Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines from the 1989 film “Tap” and choreographer Savion Glover, who tap danced for the film “Happy Feet.”

Before the national competition, Constantino spent a week at a ballet seminar. At the competition, Constantino attended nine days of training in a variety of dance disciplines taught by an international faculty with other students from across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

“It was super-dance week for two weeks,” he said. “It was intimidating but good to have the push. West Coast dancers are extremely strong and very good. It’s good to see everyone’s skill level and push yourself.”

Chris is the son of J. and Marni Constantino and grandson of Bud Nicholls, a friend of studio owner Linda Fuller who connected the two.

Constantino teaches jazz dance classes for younger students and said it’s something he’ll consider continuing as he moves into the next stage of his life. “You understand how dance works better, the things behind it” when you teach, he said.

Being one of only two teenage boys dancing at the studio means the dancing formations aren’t as balanced as they could be, but Constantino said he has enough friends outside dance that he’s not starved for guy friends.

“You can’t ask too much in Montana, where guys aren’t expected to be dancing,” he said.


Copyright © 2011 Great Falls Tribune

By Liam Sloan
The Oxford Times
January 25 2011


YOUNG dancer Joseph Darcey-Alden has tapped his way to success by performing a routine in memory of his grandfather. Eight-year-old Joseph was named the best tap dancer in England after learning a love of music from his granddad John Norman.

Drummer Mr Norman, who died aged 75 in October, was known in pubs and clubs across Oxfordshire for keeping the beat with swing band 42nd Street. So when Joseph took to the stage in the All England Championships, he knew he had to dance to the title song of the hit musical.

And dedicating his performance to his grandfather, the budding Billy Elliot swept away the opposition to pick up the tap dance trophy.

Joseph, who lives in Yarnton and goes to Edward Feild Primary School in Kidlington, said: “I knew that if I got into the finals I wanted to do a dance for Granddad John, so I picked a song from 42nd Street. “I was thinking of him when I was dancing.

“I did not think I was going to win because there were lots of other good dancers there, and I had to beat 12 others in the final. This is one of the first big competitions that I have won, and it was amazing.”

His mother Sarah Darcey-Alden said: “I know how proud Joseph’s granddad would have been. “Because he was a drummer, he would always tap away with his hands at the table whatever he was doing. When we would visit, Joseph would tap away with his feet at the same time, and the two formed a little bit of a double act.

“Even when Grandad John was sat in his hospital bed, Joseph would tap dance for him.”

Mr Norman was a regular in music venues across the county for more than 20 years, playing trad, swing and jazz bands. The highlights of his musical career included beating Cliff Richard and The Shadows in a skiffle competition at The Elephant and Castle, London, and supporting Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames in Hammersmith.

His grandson got his love of dance at his grandparents’ house in Didcot aged just two, when his grandmother Linda showed him her Irish dancing videos. Joseph said: “I remember seeing some tap dancing on TV and watching Billy Elliot when I was about four, and I thought that kind of dancing looked really good.”

Now training at Kidlington’s Dance 10 Theatre School, Joseph has six hours of lessons each week and practices ballet, tap, modern and lyrical dancing every day.

In the British Theatre Dance Association’s All England Championships, held in Leicester, he beat dancers two years older than him to win the tap dance trophy.

Fellow Dance 10 Theatre School students Nicole Faux, eight, Alyssa Linstrom, eight, Charlotte Boyce, nine, and Annie Bell, 10, also made it through to the All England Championship finals while nine-year-old Ilana Kneafsey came runner-up in the ‘song and dance’ category.

Ilana, from Kidlington, has just finished a national tour playing Jemima Potts in the West End show Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as well as appearing in the chorus in English National Opera’s La Bohème in London.


© Copyright 2001-2011 Newsquest Media Group

By Liam Ryan
The Stonnington Leader
Photograph by Mark Wilson
December 9, 2010


THESE dancers are jumping for joy, thanks to recent good form.

The South Melbourne and Armadale Dance Centre is kicking up its heels over its students’ successes.

Ben Carter and Tim Stoney have received ballet scholarships, and Isaac and Jacob Moulton, tap scholarships, from the internationally recognised British Ballet Organisation.

Ben was one of three dancers to receive a perfect score in BBO exams. Jacob also won a scholarship to study tap and theatrical dance in New York.

Collectively, the school has won a teacher aggregate troupe award at the State Dance Competitions. Director Caroline Dall is thrilled. “We have just had a completely brilliant year,” she said. “The standard of our staff is pretty high. That makes a big difference.”

The school tutors classical ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and singing for children aged five to 18.

It’s looking to take in more young dancers who might not normally afford its classes, with four full scholarships for dancers aged 11 and over, funded by an anonymous donor.


© 2010 News Community Media

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