Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tap City 2011-2012 Awards

Last year, the American Tap Dance Foundation missed the chance to give out its annual tap community awards (given since 2002). It made up for that lapse by doubling up the awardees last evening at a fun and often moving ceremony at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

The program commenced with ATDF head Tony Waag's slide montage of past winners of the Tap Preservation Award and Hoofer Award as well as inductees to the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame. The fourth honor afforded ATDF recipients is known as the Toe Knee Award--a play on Waag's name, his sometimes nickname and that little Broadway thing--which recognizes stalwart supporters. Waag surprised his two sisters--Stephanie Waag Blackmon (who was on hand) and Cindy Roush, as well as Boston-based tap instructor/producer Thelma Goldberg, with the coveted Toe Knee.
Two of the vaudevillian Whitman Sisters, including Alberta "Bert" Whitman in male drag

A video or slide show or music and dance performances prefaced each of the other awards. Highlights were many, including Sally Sommer's loving tribute to Hall-of-Famer Charles "Cholly" Atkins (1913-2003), notable not only for the cool wit of his performing but also his expert dance coaching of many of Motown's hottest acts; a dramatic slide show tracing the history of vaudeville's remarkable Whitman Sisters act, about whom, regrettably, there is no film documentation; Michela Marino Lerman gifting jazz and tap show producer Cobi Narita (Cobi's Place), a Tap Preservation Award winner, with a shimmering solo; and Max Pollak's Rumba Tap ensemble serving up a vivacious new Afro-Cuban voice-and-dance number before longtime dancer/colleague Chikako Iwahori, presenting Pollak's Hoofer Award, spoke of his formidable intensity and generosity. A momentarily overwhelmed Pollak recovered enough to quip, "Being the only Austrian who has ever gotten this award makes me want to have a beer with you all."

A trio of angels--"Charlie's Angels," from Jason Samuels Smith's recent Joyce Theater show--dropped in to rock the house, praise their champion and hand him a well-deserved Hoofer Award. It was a treat to see Chloé Arnold, Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards in action again so soon after the Joyce gig and to hear their stories. (Arnold on meeting Samuels Smith for the first time: JSS: "You tap?" CA: "Yeah, I tap." JSS: "We'll see.")

For more information on ATDF's remaining Tap City 2012 events (through July 13), click here.

2011 International Tap Dance Hall of Fame
Cholly Atkins

2012 International Tap Dance Hall of Fame
The Whitman Sisters Legacy

2011 Toe Knee Award
Stephanie Waag Blackmon and Cindy Roush

2012 Toe Knee Award
Thelma Goldberg

2011 Tap Preservation Award
Jacqui Malone

2012 Tap Preservation Award
Cobi Narita

2011 Hoofer Award
Max Pollak

2012 Hoofer Award
Jason Samuels Smith

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