Guest Faculty

Michelle Dorrance

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

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!”

Nicholas Van Young

Nicholas Van Young, Associate Director of Dorrance Dance (Co-Creator ETM: Double Down) is a dancer, musician, choreographer, and a 2014 Bessie Award recipient. He began his professional career at age 16 under Acia Gray and Deidre Strand with Tapestry Dance Company in Austin, TX, eventually rising to principal dancer and resident choreographer. Since moving to New York, he has performed with Manhattan Tap, RumbaTap, Dorrance Dance, Beat the Donkey and has toured as a drummer for Darwin Deez. Nicholas spent almost a decade performing with STOMP, where he performed the lead role and acted as rehearsal director. Nicholas tours both nationally and internationally teaching and performing at various Tap Festivals, and founded Sound Movement dance company and IFTRA, Institute for The Rhythmic Arts. He is thrilled to have found a home with Dorrance Dance, co-creating and developing ETM: Double Down, and the Guggenheim Rotunda Project, both collaborative efforts with Michelle Dorrance.

Elizabeth Burke

Elizabeth Burke is a Chapel Hill, North Carolina native and proud alumna of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, with whom she spent eleven seasons. As an ensemble member, Burke served as a choreographer and performed extensively throughout the United States at venues such as the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Tap City: The New York City Tap Festival, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the Southeastern Tap Explosion in Atlanta, GA, as well as in Finland, Canada, Mexico, and Germany, where she made her international debut as a soloist. She also had the opportunity to collaborate and choreograph with Jim Ketch and the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, and her work was presented at the University of North Carolina’s Memorial Hall and at the Durham Performing Arts Council.

Dianne Walker

Dianne Walker, jazz tap dancer known for her elegant and fluid style of dancing that is delicate yet rhythmically complex, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Walker received the Dance Magazine Award in 2012 for lifetime achievement in dance. Principal dancer in the Paris production of Black and Blue, as well as principal and assistant choreographer in the Broadway production; Walker is considered by many female tap dance artists as the transitional figure between the young generation of female dancers (such as Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Germaine Ingram, Ayodele Casel), and the "forgotten mothers of tap," such as Edith "Baby" Edwards, Jeni LeGon, Lois Miller, and Florence Covan.

Jason Janas

Jason Janas is originally from New Jersey. He began his tap dance instruction under Ms. Deborah Mitchell and was the first charter member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble. He then found a love for the dance and continued to learn and study the art form. He also trained and was a member of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble under the direction of Gene Medler.

Jason's first professional company after high school was Tapestry Dance Company in Austin TX, under the direction of Acia Gray. He was a principal dancer there for 5 years. His hard work ethic began to take notice and Derick Grant invited Jason to be in his show Imagine Tap! which ran for 6 weeks in Chicago, and changed his life. His other show credits include Souls of our Feet with Tapestry Dance Company, Wonderland with Sara Savelli and Ayodele Casel, and most recently co-choreographed and was featured in Tap Stars with Rasta Thomas. He currently teaches for Wild Dance Convention and West Coast Dance Explosion, and has taught at tap festivals in New Jersey, Chicago, New York, L.A., Charlotte, Austin, San Antonio, Vancouver, Zürich, Curitiba (Brazil), Moscow, and Barcelona!

Charles Renato

Charles Renato was born and raised in Brazil. He began tap-dancing at the age of 6 and hasn’t stopped since. Charles has won several renowned awards throughout his career including Best Dancer of the Joinville Dance Festival (2002), the latter considered to be the largest dance festival in the world by the Guinness World Records (2008). He was also the winner of the Brazilian network TV Globo Challenge Show in 2009. 

Charles has performed in various cities around the world such as Lisbon, where he joined the cast of the musical Sinatra – Blue Eyes. Back in Brazil, Renato was a member of the "KS Tap Company," which is responsible for bringing together the most sought after teachers of the nation. As a choreographer, Charles was awarded for best choreography on the hit Brazilian TV show Domingão do Faustão in 2010 as well as at the 2013 Festidança Festival. In 2012 Charles was also nominated for Best Choreographer at the Desterro Award. Renato has choreographed for the Águia de Ouro Samba school, where he was responsible for the carnival float titled The Biggest Festivals, which hosted some of the most distinguished performers in Brazilian music such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Rita Lee. In 2013, he was also invited to choreograph the hit TV show Chiquititas. Charles has been invited to choreograph for many Brazilian and International companies over the years. In 2013 he was invited to represent Brazil in Chicago at the Rhythm World and was asked to choreograph a piece for the Chicago Human Rhythm Project Festival featuring students from all over the world. 

Yukiko Smilie Misumi

Yukiko Misumi tap dances like a fairy. She is a leader in the Japanese tap community and promotes international cultural exchange through tap dancing.

She studied in NY under the great tap master Henry Le Tang in the 1980's. He named her "Smilie". During the late 1980's Yukiko studied rhythm tap under Brenda Buffalino. She is also influenced by the styles and teaching of Dianne Walker and Dr. Jimmy Slyde.

In Japan, she was a soloist for the Jam Tap Dance Company (Kuniyasu Kato /Founder and artistic director) where she was a dance captain, choreographer and assistant to the stage director. In 1993, 1996, 2004 and 2006, she co-starred with Dr. Jimmy Slyde at that company's performance.

In 1999, she started "African Rhythm Tap Series"; and performed at November Eleventh which is a live-bistro owned by Ryudo Uzaki and Yoko Agi, Sweet Basil 139, American Club, Theater Apple and more.

In 2000, she made her first appearance at NATIONAL TAP DAY in Japan, performed at Tokyo Rhythm Theater, Kawasaki Tap Festival, Keep On Rhythm (osaka), Tokyo International Tap Festival, and Heiwa No Mori hoofers.

Misumi has appeared at the St. Louis Tap Festival as a representative of Japan many years since 2000, in the Chicago Tap Festival, Hawaii Tap Festival, the Barcelona Tap Festival and in the New York Tap Festival.

Yukiko taught all over Japan including: TRADTION IN TAP (NEW YORK) a workshop in HongKong, WORKSHOP in 2009; performed and taught in Taiwan Winter Tap Festival, Taipei Tap Festival, HongKong Dance Festival, and Hawaii Tap Festival in 2010.

Smilie operated Artisitic Rhythm Tap Network through Chacott dance studio. She opened her own studio named ARTN Tap Dance Studio in central Tokyo in 2001.

Tap dancer, choreographer, teacher and Director of Artistic Rhythm Tap Network.

Ballet School of Chapel Hill

1603 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill NC 27516

ncrtf@ncyte.org

©2023 North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble

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