Hosted by local dance maven Maria Broom (who also played Marla Daniels in The Wire), the show includes Emmy-Award winner Jason Samuels Smith (Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk), Maud Arnold (co-founder, DC Tap Festival), young tap phenom Luke Nielsen Spring, New York’s Toes Tiranoff and Megan Haungs, Coppin dance instructor Quynn Johnson (formerly with Savion Glover's company), Coppin's BRAVO Youth Program dancers, and DC's high-energy Capital Taps company.
Vanessa Coles, director of Coppin’s Dance Program, says she’s particularly excited about seeing Smith, because she’s heard so much about him, but she’s also “interested in seeing women tap dancers, and there are several in the show: Qyunn Johnson, Chloe and Maud Arnold, and Megan Haungs. And I will always have an appreciation for my elder, Toes Tiranoff.”
Coles notes there will also be a community tap segment at the end of the show, “where anyone and everyone, ages 5 to 75, can come up and strut their stuff. My goal as director of dance is to always engage and educate the community about all styles of dance, and its origins. Yes, I am excited. Tap at Coppin. Fabulous!”
Tap has a long legacy in Baltimore—the city was home to masters such as Baby Laurence, Buster Brown, and Hawk Hawkins—and clips of classic performers will be shown Saturday night. “When I think about tap and entertainment, my mind always shifts to Pennsylvania Avenue—the Mecca of Black Entertainment during the early/mid 1900's,” says Coles. “My mom would tell me stories about entertainers coming to perform on Pennsylvania Avenue, and I can just see the musicians and tap dancers getting together to improvise, playing off of one another, and enjoying being in the moment.
“My first exposure to tap was as a student with Wally Saunders. He was well-known as a tap and jazz instructor in Pikesville. I absolutely love the rhythms, creating different sounds (quiet or robust) that symbolize real life—similar to when Gregory Hines dances in the street scene in the movie Tap.”
The tap extravaganza begins at 7:30 at Coppin’s James Weldon Johnson Auditorium. Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 in advance. Students get in for $10. The program is supported by a grant from the Maryland Traditions Program of the Maryland State Arts Council.