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2023 Faculty

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Michelle Dorrance
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Michelle Dorrance is a tap dancer and choreographer breathing new life into a uniquely American art form in works that combine the musicality of tap with the choreographic intricacies of contemporary dance. Dorrance uses her deep understanding of the technique and history of tap dancing to deconstruct and reimagine its artistic possibilities.

Michelle Dorrance received a B.A. (2001) from the Gallatin School at New York University. A member of the faculty of the Broadway Dance Center since 2002, Dorrance has performed with preeminent tap companies and has taught and choreographed for institutions and groups across the United States and abroad. She toured with the Off-Broadway production of STOMP (2007–2011) before founding Dorrance Dance/New York. The troupe has performed Dorrance’s choreographic works at such venues as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Joyce Theatre, and Danspace Project, as well as at numerous festivals throughout North America and Europe.

Derick Grant
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Derick K. Grant is a native of Boston, MA and an award-winning tap performer and choreographer. He began his training at the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts and studied “hoofin” style from master tap dancer, Dianne Walker. He went on to train at Universal Dance Design Studio with Paul Kennedy and spent three years with the Jazz Tap Ensemble touring the world. He was given the Princess Grace Award for Upcoming Young Artist and The Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Featured Actor for his role in Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk. Recently returning from his three-month tour of A Night Out: Tap!, Grant’s newest choreography and performance with Jazz Tap Ensemble, held at the Joyce Theater, has been praised by the The New York Times stating, “Mr. Grant let gusts of rhythm propel him with remarkable velocity!”

Brenda Bufalino
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Ms. Bufalino is a mixed genre artist: dancer, choreographer, author, and ceramicist. 

As a soloist, and choreographer/director of The American Tap Dance Orchestra, Ms Bufalino has performed and taught Internationally for over 30 years. Her collaborations with her partner and mentor the great Charles ‘Honi’ Coles, and her many performances with Gregory Hines, The Nicholas Brothers, and the many giants of tap dance has infused her with the essence of the form that she now shares with her stories, teaching, and dances. Her own experimental work, with taps, electronics and poetry has influenced the next two generations of tap artists, and she is still creating new experimental and traditional tap works and performances. 

She has performed solo and with her company “The American Tap Dance Orchestra” at all the major venues; Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Joyce Theater, The Kennedy center and major theaters across America and Europe.  For the State Department the ATDO toured Eastern Europe introducing the newly democratic theaters to the world of Tap Dance.  With her company she appeared in the PBS special Tap Dance in America...with Gregory Hines.  

Ms. Bufalino has been awarded several awards from the National Endowment for The Arts.  The NEA deemed two of her choreographies for the ATDO, American Masterpieces.   Her choreography has been performed by several noted companies, most recently her piece "Jump Monk," was performed by Dorrance Dance at City Center, n\NYC.

 

As an author Ms Bufalino has written many articles and wrote the foreword and afterward for the book Jazz Dance by Marshall and Jean Stearns. Her memoir "Tapping the Source...Tap dance, stories, theory and practice" and a book of poems "Circular Migrations" have both been published by Codhill Press. and her recent novella "Song of the Split Elm", is published by Outskirts Press.

She has been awarded: The Flobert Award, The Tapestry Award, The Tap City Hall of Fame Award, The Dance Magazine, and the prestigious Bessie Award, all for outstanding achievement and contributions to the field of tap dance. 

Nicholas Van Young

Nicholas Van Young is a choreographer, dancer, musician and 2014 Bessie Award recipient. He began his professional career in Austin, TX at the age of 16 with Tapestry Dance Company under the direction of Acia Gray and Deirdre Strand. As principal dancer and resident choreographer he was awarded “Best Male Dancer” 2001, and “Best Choreography” 2003 by the Austin Critics Council. In 2003 he joined the NYC cast of STOMP and spent 2003-2013 with the production moving on to play the lead role and serve as rehearsal director for the American Tour. Most recently he acted as Associate Artistic Director

of Dorrance Dance, and has been a choreographer and collaborator with Artistic Director Michelle Dorrance for nearly a decade. His choreographic and conceptual collaborations with DD have premiered at the Guggenheim, The Joyce, Jacob’s Pillow, and internationally in London (Sadlers Wells), Spain (Fira Tarrega) and Hong Kong. As a musician he has performed and toured with Cyro Baptista’s Brazilian Percussion Ensemble “Beat the Donkey”, as drummer for Darwin Deez and Dorrance Dance and has created two electronic music scores for the documentaries “Tap or Die” and “Aces and Knaves” produced by Jackie

Pare. Nicholas Young is the Director and Founder of SoundMovement Dance Co. and Institute for the Rhythmic Arts, a multi-disciplinary training program for percussive dance and drums. He is honored to currently be the Artistic Director of North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, where he serves to further educate young dancers in Tap Dance, it’s history and legacy.

Elizabeth Burke
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ELIZABETH BURKE is a proud Chapel Hill, North Carolina native and Tar Heel. She is the Co-Dance Captain of MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance's award winning dance company, Dorrance Dance, and she has performed and worked with the company full time since its inaugural 2010-2011 season. Before Dorrance Dance became her artistic focus, Burke spent 11 years under the mentorship of Director Emeritus Gene Medler in the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble. She’s also an alumna of the School at Jacob’s Pillow and Marymount Manhattan College. Aside from her work with Dorrance Dance, Elizabeth teaches, choreographs, and performs, primarily at tap dance festivals across the United States. She also works consistently with fellow North Carolinian, NCYTE alumnus, tap dancer, choreographer, and Tar Heel Luke Hickey.

Luke Hickey
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Luke Hickey is a NYC based tap dancer, choreographer, and actor hailing from Chapel Hill, NC. Named by Dance Magazine among their "25 To Watch" in 2020, Hickey began studying with his lifelong mentor, JUBA Award recipient Gene Medler, at the age of seven. Under the tutelage of Mr. Medler, Hickey completed 10 consecutive seasons studying and touring with the internationally acclaimed North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble (NCYTE). Hickey is an alumna of the School at Jacob’s Pillow and Pace University NYC (BA Film & Screen Studies, BA Communications Studies, cum laude). Hickey made his choreographic and directorial debut with his work “A Little Old, A Little New” at the world famous Birdland Jazz Club in NYC. The show has since traveled across the country, including to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Battery Dance Festival, Chelsea Factory and the American Dance Festival. Hickey's choreography is also seen in Patrick Wang’s feature film "A Bread Factory," which was listed on The New Yorker's "The Best Movies of 2018." In addition to his choreographic pursuits, Luke is honored to be a company member of MacArthur Fellow, Michelle Dorrance's acclaimed company, Dorrance Dance. 

Stage credits include Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room, The Kennedy Center, the Guggenheim Museum, Oslo Jazz Festival, Joyce Theater, 

MGM National Harbor, and New York City Center.

Josette Wiggan
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Josette Wiggan began her dance adventure with Paul and Arlene Kennedy in Los Angeles at the age of 12. Her love for performing was fostered by the Kennedys and thenrefined as an adult while dancing with Jazz Tap Ensemble until 2007. A graduate of UCLA, Josette's career highlights include, the 2001 Spotlight Award winner in non-classical dance category, the 1st National Broadway Tour of 42nd Street, movies Idlewild and Princess and the Frog and studying with Germaine Acogny at L'ecole les Sables in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal. Alongside her brother, she was a part of two original casts of Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel and Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour from 2009-2013. The duo also performed in Tireless, a curated show by Michelle Dorrance that had its debut at Jacob's Pillow in 2017. Josette is also a part of Dorrance's all woman quartet that created two works entitled Until the Real Comes Along and All Good Things Must Come and End. In addition, she was a co-creator with Michelle Dorrance and Hannah Heller of a Christmas work entitled The Nutcracker Suite in 2019 and in 2020, Josette created and directed a work for film featuring vernacular jazz and tap dance entitled, Harlem Stomp. In collaboration with jazz trumpeter extraordinaire, Keyon Harrold, Josette created her latest work entitled Praise: The Inevitable Fruit of Gratitude. It had its debut at Jacob's Pillow and the Queens Theatre in the Park in 2021. Currently Josette is on Faculty at USC's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, teaching Vernacular Jazz and Tap Dance. Josette is a sought after educator/ choreographer/ performer and has dedicated her life to the perpetuation of African American Vernacular Jazz Dance. 

Adam Price
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Adam Price is a musician, composer, and educator. As a performer, he has had the privilege of touring all over the US and the world with various groups, including dates at Webster Hall in NYC, Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philly, and guest appearances in Brazil, Hong Kong, and Italy. In 2018, he released his debut album "House Ghosts" to critical acclaim. As an educator, Adam teaches at summer camps, and clinics and workshops throughout the school year. Lately, he has begun research into the shared history of tap and jazz and the concept of tap dance as percussion, collaborating with dancers as musicians. Although he has performed, taught, and recorded all genres of music on all woodwinds, in his heart he is a jazz musician and, as Jazz Corner puts it, "a world-class clarinet player."

Dianne Walker

Dianne Walker...A Tap Dancer...from Boston. She has been tap dancing for over 45 years and is internationally recognized in the field. Her career spans broadway, television, film and international music and dance concerts. Throughout the world of tap, she has been dubbed the "Ella Fitzgerald" of Tap Dance." The Boston Herald called her "America's First Lady of Tap" and in Dallas, “The Ballerina of Tap”. Savion Glover and his contemporaries affectionately call her “Aunt Dianne” in acknowledgment of her unique place
as mentor, teacher and confidante. In appreciation of her personal style and elegance as a performer, as well as her eloquent and passionate commitment to the art of tap dance, her mentors and peers always refer to her
as "Lady Di". Jennifer Dunning in the New York Times described Walker as "a tapper from whom steps and moves flow like music, she has an easy warmth of presence that makes her dancing incandescent."

Often seen in Jazz clubs (and festivals) around the country, one of her most memorable performances was the Rainbow Room in New York City with Ruth Brown, Grady Tate, Al McKibbon and Sir Roland Hanna. Jazz Festival appearances include North Sea Jazz (The Hague), Pori Jazz/Finland, Chicago Jazz and Montreal Jazz Festival. In 1985, BLACK AND BLUE opened in Paris. Dianne joined the cast as a chorus dancer/swing as well as a featured performer in a trio number with Bernard Manners and Ivery Wheeler (When You’re Smiling). Dianne was featured in both Paris (1985-86) and Broadway productions of BLACK AND BLUE (1989-1991), produced by Mel Howard and directed by Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli. On Broadway, she was the only female to dance in the famed “Hoofers Line” which included
Jimmy Slyde, Ralph Brown, Buster Brown, Lon Chaney, Chuck Green, Bunny Briggs. She was also featured in “Memories of You", a soft shoe choreographed for the trio by Cholly Atkins. On Broadway, she was Assistant Choreographer and Dance Captain for the show’s Tony Award winning choreography and recreated said choreography for the show’s European tour. She has toured (guest artist) with tap dance companies such as Jazz Tap Ensemble, Manhattan Tap, and America on Tap (Artistic Director- Honi
Coles) .


In 1989 Walker was featured in Great Performances: Tap Dance in America, hosted by Gregory Hines. “Looking insouciantly over her shoulder as luscious rhythms spilled from her feet, Walker was both demure and debonair. At thirty eight years old, she had the radiant, authoritative ease and expertise of a veteran hoofer double her age.” (New York Times) Also in 1989 she was featured in the motion picture Tap, starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. and again in the televised (PBS) production of BLACK AND BLUE directed by Robert Altman. Some documentaries have included “Honi Coles..The Class Act Of Tap”; “Songs Unwritten-Leon Collins” and also a principal performer and commentator in the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s PBS release “JUBA” to name a few. She has appeared at the Smithsonian on several occasions honoring such distinguished artists as Cholly Atkins and Jeni LeGon, and a special lecture/performance entitled “Women in Tap” (also featured..Anita Feldman and Ann Miller).

In 1996, Dianne, along with Gregory Hines and Jimmy Slyde, performed a one time only Gala for Jacobs Pillow. From 1996-1998 she and Jimmy Slyde were lead artists for the Jazz Tap Residency Program at Jacobs Pillow. In 2010 she became the director of the first Tap Program for the School at Jacob’s Pillow.
In 1998 she became the youngest dancer and first woman to receive the “Living Treasure in American Dance Award” from Oklahoma City University. In Northampton MA she and Jimmy Slyde, shared an evening with Lil Jimmy Scott and Hadda Brooks. In 2000, she shared a year long engagement of Savion Glover’s Concert Tour, entitled “Footnotes” with Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown and Cartier Williams. The same year, she received the “Savion Glover Award for Keeping the Beat Alive” in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2003, she received a Flo-Bert Award, presented by the New York Committee To Celebrate National Tap Dance Day, in recognition of her lifetime achievement . In 2004, Walker received the Hoofers Award from Tap City NYC That same year she was presented with The Humanitarian Award from Jason Samuels Smith of the
Debbie Allen Dance Academy. In 2005, she received another lifetime achievement recognition (Rhythm Bound) from director Sas Selford of the Vancouver Tap Dance Society. In 2006, Dianne's lifetime achievements were honored at a luncheon in Flint, Michigan. This award ceremony was sponsored by Tapology, Artistic and Executive Director, Alfred Bruce Bradley and the Mott Foundation. In 2008, Dianne received the highly distinguished honor as a United States Artist. She was awarded as a USA Fellow. (Ernest and Irma Rose Foundation), and 2012 she received The Dance Magazine Award in NYC for lifetime achievement in dance. She continues to receive numerous awards for excellence in teaching and contributions to the field.

 

Ms. Walker, who holds a Master’s degree in Education, has taught at Harvard, Williams College, the University of Michigan, UCLA, Bates, Wesleyan and on numerous other campuses. She has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Jacobs
Pillow, and the New England Foundation for the Arts. She was a participant in the Dance USA Task Force on Dance Education and in 1997 represented the United States as an adjudicator for the World Tap Dance Championships held in Dresden, Germany. Dianne has spent many years in Japan working in collaboration with Yukiko “Smilie” Misumi at Artn Tap Studio. She is currently on the board of several tap dance organizations.


As a pioneer in the resurgence of tap dance, Walker is also considered as the transitional figure between the young generation of female dancers-- such as Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Ayodele Casel-- and the "forgotten black mothers of tap," such as Edith "Baby" Edwards, Jeni LeGon, Lois Miller, Tina Pratt and
many others.


She is grateful to a list of legends that have given to her so generously throughout her career such as Leon Collins, Jimmy Slyde, Jimmy (Sir Slyde) Mitchell, Honi Coles, Marion Coles, Cholly Atkins, Tina Pratt, Eddie Brown, Linda Hopkins, Ruth Brown, Fay Ray, Mable Lee, Nicholas Brothers, Peg Leg Bates, Steve Condos, Henry LeTang, Prince Spencer, Gregory Hines, Leonard Reed, Arthur Duncan, LaVaughn Robinson, Bernard Manners and many legendary musicians such as Paul Arslanian, John Lockwood, Alan Dawson, Grady Tate, Barry Harris, Ron Savage, Max Roach and many others.

 

Dianne is Artistic Director of TapDancin, Inc. and is currently working on her archives. She continues to teach, perform and collaborate with dance organizations around the world in order to facilitate work opportunities for tap dance. Most recently, she began writing a book.

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