This is a post for all you tap dancers out there…4dancers is pleased to share some information about Jersey Tap Fest, and its founder, Hillary-Marie…
1. Can you tell readers a little about your background?
I am a tap soloist, performer, choreographer and teacher who specializes in the American art form of rhythm tap dance. I established an entrepreneurial stance at a young age by managing local musicians in the tri-state area under Fireshot Promotions and am now the Founder and Director of Jersey Tap Fest.
I have been mentored by and assistant to Dr. Harold ‘Stumpy’ Cromer since 2007 and mentored by Karen Callaway Williams since 2004. As a belter and actress, I made my theatrical debut as Val in a regional production of A Chorus Line and now provide audiences with an afternoon of song and tap dance in my new show, What’s On Tap? I proudly became a member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble in April 2006 and have since become a principal dancer for the New Jersey Tap Ensemble under the direction of Founder and Artistic Director Ms. Deborah Mitchell. I have been so fortunate as to work with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Ballet, Russian Moscow Ballet, American Tap Dance Foundation, as well as award-winning composers Marvin Hamlisch, Leonard Oxley and Nikki Denner.
I have performed in many New Jersey venues, including Cafe Arabica, the Edward Nash Theatre, Montclair Arts Museum, the Morristown Community Theatre, the NJ State Theatre, NJPAC, Patriot’s Stadium, Pianos, the Richardson Auditorium, Skipper’s, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, The Priory, the Union County Performing Arts Center, the Westminster Arts Center and the Wilkins Theatre, as well as New York City’s Battery Park, Cobi’s Place, the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street, the Fashion Institute of Technology Haft Auditorium, Peter Norton Symphony Space, Small’s Jazz Club, Showman’s, The Kitchen, Washington DC’s Duke Ellington Theater and Smithsonian Museum, St. Louis’ Blanch M. Touhill PAC, and Los Angeles’ Hamilton Performing Arts Center.
Outside of teaching and performance, I write for Terrence Taps’ Tap Dance Blog and am a member of the International Tap Association and New Jersey Jazz Society, where I dedicate myself to keeping the art form of tap dance alive.
2. Briefly, can you explain what Jersey Tap Fest is?
Jersey Tap Fest is an annually fantastic New Jersey tap dance event that will educate and serve diverse students with a passion for tap dance. Founded by Hillary-Marie, Jersey Tap Fest provides repertoire classes to celebrate today’s young, emerging tap dance artists and master classes to celebrate the tap masters and allow them to train the artists who are the future face of the tap dance community. We are committed to tap dance by being dedicated to its advancement for the purposes of promoting and preserving its tradition, history and musicality as an American art form.
Jersey Tap Fest provides non-competitive opportunities of self-advancement and networking for the basic tapper, tap teacher, tap enthusiast, pre-professional and professional artist and tap master. This stimulating, demanding and rigorous program will serve diverse students with great passion for tap dance in the tri-state area, allowing them to improve their technical abilities and increase their overall knowledge of the art form. All participants will be awarded opportunities of performance to give them valuable experience in which they can reflect on. Overall, Jersey Tap Fest is focused on serving tap dance, teaching its history, preserving its percussive traditions and promoting it for what it is, a cherished American art form.
3. Who should attend?
Everyone! Classes are based on skill level
Kids – There are youth classes and a youth rep for children between the ages of 8 and 12 (the choreography learned in the rep classes will be performed in the main stage show on July 17th at SOPAC theater, amazing performance opportunity!)
Teenage, college, pre-professional and professionals – There are open intermediate and advanced classes and intermediate and advanced reps (the choreography learned in the rep classes will be performed in the main stage show on July 17th at the SOPAC theater… another amazing performance opportunity!) Classes can be registered for individually, but as always… packages are the way to go!
Adults – There are adult beginner classes all three days of the festival towards the end of the day, before the night time events. This is a great opportunity to brush up on childhood dance skills, start a new hobby, or learn about what your child does in dance class and give you something in common, a new dinner table discussion!
Tap Teachers – Attending Jersey Tap Fest will provide you with new steps, techniques and routines to teach your students.
Tap Enthusiasts – Not a tap dancer, but love tap dance? There are classes and events for you! History with Dr. Cromer and “Music Theory for Tap Dancers” can be registered for individually. There is a free Shim-Sham class and everyone can purchase tickets to the night time events, including the Jam Session, Panel Discussion, Participants Showcase and the main stage faculty show.
4. Can you tell readers about the people who will be teaching at the event?
Living tap dance legend Dr. Harold ‘Stumpy’ Cromer of the song and dance comedy team “Stump and Stumpy” with James Cross. Credits include, Du Barry Was A Lady, Early To Bed, The American Dance Machine and special appearances with Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and many more!
Logan Miller (A.C.G.I., St. Louis Hoofers)
Sarah Reich (A.C.G.I., LA Ironworks)
Alicia Smith (New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Kyle Wilder (New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Youth/Int/Adv/Early Bird/Technique Teachers:
Karen Callaway Williams (Riverdance, New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Maurice Chestnut (Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk, New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Dr. Harold ‘Stumpy’ Cromer
DeWitt Fleming Jr. (Banana Spheel, Broadway Underground, New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Jeffry Foote (New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Jason Janas (Imagine Tap)
Hillary-Marie (Founder and Director of Jersey Tap Fest, New Jersey Tap Ensemble)
Deborah Mitchell (Founder and Artistic Director of New Jersey Tap Ensemble, Black and Blue)
Music Theory for Tap Dancers:
Nicki Denner (The Nicki Denner Latin Jazz Trio)
Yvette Glover (Mother of Savion Glover, Jazz Vocalist)
5. Would you talk about a few of the highlights of the Fest?
Beyond the amazing faculty and 40+ classes that Jersey Tap Fest offers… there are public nighttime events and extra classes!
Wednesday, July 14th
**“Music Theory for Tap Dancers” can give any tap fanatic a better understanding the percussive and improvisational elements of tap dance,
**Open Jam Session – musicians and tap dancers are invited to call their tune and jam with the live jazz band!
Thursday, July 15th
**The free Shim-Sham class is a great time to learn the classic tap dance finale, “The Shim-Sham Shimmy”
Friday, July 16th
**Learn about tap dance history from history itself with Dr. Cromer!
**Jersey Tap Fest participants are provided with the opportunity to share their talent and perform for the public (acts are not limited to tap dance)
Saturday, July 17th – Main Stage Show
**An AMAZING faculty performance that you do not want to miss! (This performance will include rep pieces learned during the festival)
6. What else can you tell readers about the Jersey Tap Fest experience?
Tap festivals provide tap dancers of all skill levels and ages with opportunities to learn, grow, network and perform. Don’t miss out on this amazing event.
All events will take place at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). This is an amazing theater that is allowing us to use their Loft to hold the classes and their stage for the culminating main stage show. SOPAC is conveniently located next to the South Orange train station, which is only a 30 minute train ride from NY Penn Station.