Saturday, June 09, 2007

June 3, 2007 Tap Dancing on the Radio

On my radio show on WCOM, 103.5 fm low-power, out of Carrboro, NC, I was joined in the studio by Gene Medler, the artistic director of the NC Youth Tap Ensemble. Gene brought with him three of his star students - Elizabeth Burke, Alex Vigotov, and Lily Steponaitis. Earlier in the day, they were in a recital and yet they danced hard and fast for two hours on my show. It was a thrill - they were wonderful to watch and great to listen to.

I picked out some of my favorite jazz songs and Gene brought some CDs with him. Gene brought some dancing boards which we put on the floor of the studio, and I placed mics down on the floor near the dancing feet of Elizabeth, Alex and Lily. I was amazed by their talent, enthusiasm, and energy. Their feet quickly picked up the rhythm of the jazz songs, and then they pounded out interesting rhythms of their own to add to the sound a new, exciting element.

I invited Gene and his students on my show to emphasize the percussion side of tap dance. Everyone knows it to be an interesting dance to watch, but some do not realize that the sound of the taps is a form of instrument.

The playlist for my show was -
  • Nina Simone (b. Tryon, NC); Anthology CD; I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
  • Ella Fitzgerald; A Night in Tunisia (song by Dizzy Gillespie, h.s. Laurinburg, NC)
  • Lionel Hampton & Oscar Peterson; Just One of Those Things CD; Just One of Those Things
  • Charlie Parker; Charlie Parker Story CD; Billie's Bounce
  • John Coltrane (b. Hamlet, NC); The Very Best of John Coltrane CD; Favorite Things
  • Buena Vista Social Club; Veinte Anos
  • Scott Warner (lived Chapel Hill for 10 years); Wild Man Blues CD; Naked Dance
  • Neville Brothers; Treacherous CD; Cha Dooky-Do and Waiting for the Train
  • Professor Longhair; Rum & Coke CD; Gone So Long
  • Hazmat Modine; Bahamut CD; Yesterday Morning
  • Miles Davis; Kind of Blue CD; All Blues
I wish Gene Medler, Elizabeth Burke, Alex Vigotov, and Lily Steponaitis the best of luck with their tap dance careers and thank them for being guests on my show.

On June 16th - 17th at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, you can check out some fabulous tap dancing as Gene brings in tap dancers and instructors from all over the world to perform and teach as part of the NC Rhythm Tap Festival.

My son, Will, leaves for Rwanda, Burundi, and E. Congo this Monday. He is an extraordinary photographer and teacher and having won the NY Times Win-A-Trip contest, he will soon travel for almost three weeks with Nicholas Kristof. I will include links to his photographs of his trip.

I wish Will an interesting, challenging, and safe journey.


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