Tap Fest

Join us April 9, 2017 for a full day celebration of the joy of tap dancing. Come and participate in master classes from tap icons including Michelle Dorrance and Lee Howard, then join us in the evening for an all-star performance featuring our guest artists dancing with the Colburn Tap Ensemble, the Tuesday Night Tap Ensemble, and Colburn Tap Faculty. Rousing live music is provided by the Jerry Kalaf Trio. Visit this link to register online for Tap Fest.

Tap Fest Artists
Schedule of Events
Location and Parking


Tap Fest Artists

Michelle Dorrance (Guest Artist), founder and artistic director of Dorrance Dance, is one of the most sought after tap dancers of her generation and “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” (The New Yorker). A 2015 MacArthur Fellow, 2014 Alpert Award Winner, and 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award Winner, Michelle performs, teaches and choreographs throughout the world.

Mentored by Gene Medler, Michelle grew up performing with the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble and has since performed with: STOMP, Savion Glover’s ti dii, Manhattan Tap, Barbara Duffy & Co, JazzTap Ensemble, Rumba Tap, Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer, Mable Lee’s Dancing Ladies, Harold Cromer’s original Opus One, Derick Grant’s Imagine Tap and Jason Samuels Smith’s Charlie’s Angels/Chasing the Bird. Michelle’s choreography has been featured on stages throughout the world as well as in a high-fashion short film for Tabitha Simmons’ 2011 Fall line.

Lee Howard (Guest Artist), better known by his stage name Lee How, is a Chicago native Tap Dancer, MC, Songwriter, Music Producer, and Actor. The multi-talented entertainer began his professional career as a tap dancer and is internationally known as one of the best of his generation. Lee recently made his Broadway debut in the original cast of "Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed" directed by George C. Wolfe and choreographed by Savion Glover.

Lee has been seen performing with Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox throughout the United States as well as with Sarah Reich’s Tap Music Project which include opening for Snoop Dogg & Aloe Blacc at the UCLA JazzReggae Festival. He was also a featured performer in The Electro-Swing Club at The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. Lee has toured overseas with the American Spiritual Ensemble, Barcelona Jazz Orchestra, and Tap Reloaded and has performed at some of the most prestigious dance venues such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance, New York City Center, The Joyce Theater, White Bird Dance, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and COCA Center of Creative Artists.

Lee How’s TV/Film credits include the 70th Annual Tony Awards (CBS), Maya & Marty (NBC), Grandfathered with John Stamos (FOX), So You Think You Can Dance (FOX), Secret Talents of the Stars (CBS), Jerry Lewis MDA National Telethon, Rhythm of Life Tap Commercial for Canon, U.S.A. and the award-winning documentary, Tap World. Along with his performance appearances, Lee has taught at numerous tap festivals and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Croatia, China, and Japan. Visit Lee Howard's website.

Angel Pennington (Colburn Faculty) has a M.A. in Urban Studies from California State University Los Angeles. She has performed at the L.A. Tap Festival and with the Jazz/Tap Ensemble at the Ford Amphitheatre and the Jazz Bakery. Other performances include the Black Swan Theater in Ashland, Oregon, and at the Four Queens hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has taught for Everybody Dance and at the Tap Academy in Santa Monica. Teaching and loving tap dance for years, she has studied extensively with Sam Weber, Denise Scheerer, and Chance Taylor. She currently teaches elementary students in a private school in West Los Angeles.

Sarah Reich (Guest Artist) has emerged as one of the new leaders in the Art Form of Tap Dance. At the young age of 15, this Los Angeles native was featured in Dance Spirit Magazine’s article, “20 Hot Tappers Under 20” and was named one of the “25 To Watch” in the 2009 Dance Magazine article. Ever since, Sarah has been sought after to perform, choreograph, and teach in over 40 countries.

Sarah is currently on tour with Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox as the featured tap dancer. Previously she was seen on Season 11 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance with Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies and Season 8 with Jason Samuels Smith's, A.C.G.I. With her own company, Tap Music Project, she has choreographed and performed at the Ford Amphitheatre, UCLA’s JazzReggae Festival, Blue Whale, and the LA County Holiday Celebration. Sarah was also a performer at Madison Square Garden for the opening of the NY Knicks 2013-2014 season.

In addition to her vast international travels and countless television appearances, Sarah has had the honor to perform at some of the most prestigious venues back home in Los Angeles such as The Hollywood Bowl, the Ford Amphitheatre, the Greek Theater with Mexican Pop-Star, Cristian Castro and the Kodak Theater with the great Herbie Hancock.

Sarah is developing new exciting works with her company, Tap Music Project and Sole Sisters – a collaboration with Melinda Sullivan. Sarah produces a weekly class/tap jam for the Los Angeles tap community, Monday Night Tap Experience.

Denise Scheerer (Colburn Chair, Tap and Musical Theater) Founded and performed with That's Jazz, a Seattle-based Jazz Dance Company. While in Seattle, Denise also choreographed for The Seattle Opera, The Empty Space Theater, The Pioneer Square Theatre, Tacoma Civic Light Opera and the Seattle Civic Light Opera. She choreographed “Anything Goes" and “Oliver" for Los Angeles' West Side Youth Theatre. Denise danced in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel in “Hallelujah Hollywood." She danced in the Albert Brooks film “I'll Do Anything," and was the featured dancer and choreographer for the Roy Clark Special “Especially Roy." Denise has performed with The Jazz Tap Ensemble. She studied and performed with tap legends Eddie Brown and Sam Weber. She taught and performed at the L.A. Tap Festival in 2008. She plays the drums and studied music with Jerry Kalaf, musical director of The Jazz Tap Ensemble. She was dance faculty at Loyola Marymount University for five years. She has taught in NYC for Tradition in Tap workshop in New York City that honored her husband, Robert Scheerer as well as Tap Festivals in St. Louis and Detroit.

Melinda Sullivan (Colburn Faculty) is best known from FOX's So You Think You Can Dance, Sullivan has a diverse career in dance, television, and theatre. Stage credits include Disney's High School Musical franchise, the 25th Anniversary Tour of Cats, and dance performances for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, NY City Center's Fall For Dance Festival and Sadler's Wells in London. Sullivan is the recipient of the coveted Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award in the Non-Classical dance category and the 2012 Capezio Award for Choreographic Excellence, and she was named among the "25 to Watch" in Dance Magazine. TV/Film credits include Glee, As the World Turns, The Goldbergs, Dancing with the Stars, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Ms. Sullivan is on faculty at Trudi Zipper Dance Institute at the Colburn School, and travels the US with New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA). For more information visit her YouTube or her website.

Sam Weber (Guest Artist) is an award winning artist who gained a global reputation in the world of tap dance and is in demand internationally as a performer, master teacher and choreographer. A protegé of tap master Steve Kahn in San Francisco, he was a principal dancer and choreographer with the Jazz Tap Ensemble from 1986 - 2009 and received acclaim at home and abroad touring with the company. He was the first tap dancer to receive New York's 'Bessie' award, presented in recognition of outstanding artistic achievement. He has appeared at international tap festivals since the first Colorado Tap Festival in 1986, and has taught and performed with such legendary tap masters as Charles 'Honi' Coles, Jimmy Slyde, Steve Condos, Buster Brown, Gregory Hines and the Nicholas Brothers. Sam is one of the few tap dancers in the world who performs Morton Gould's Tap Dance Concerto. He is also the recipient of numerous tap dance awards, including the Legacy Award from the Third Coast Rhythm Project, the Giant Steps Award from the San Francisco Tap Festival, and the Juba Award from the Chicago HUman Rhythm Project. He has taught at UCLA, Cal State University Fullerton, Cal State University Los Angeles, and San Francisco State University. He teaches regular classes at ODC SChool and City Dance School in San Francisco.

Aaron Williams (Guest Artist) is a tap dancer, percussionist, pianist, vocalist, teacher, and composer, originally from Kansas City, Missouri. After receiving his BA in Percussion Performance from Missouri Western State University, Aaron moved to Los Angeles, where he has been teaching and performing since. Some of Aaron's most recent work includes headlining the 2014 Pocono Juggling Festival Show with Collision of Rhythm; being a featured tap dancer in Coca-Cola's “America the Beautiful" commercial, which premiered during Super Bowl XLVIII and aired during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics; and performing with Sarah Reich's Tap Music Project at the LA County 54th Annual Holiday Celebration, which was televised on KCET. Currently, Aaron teaches music at Children's Community School and dances regularly with Linda Sohl-Ellison's Rhapsody In Taps, Gregg Russell's Tap Sounds Underground, and Steve Zee's LA Ironworks.

Blake Colie (Colburn Faculty) hails from North Carolina where he began playing drums at age eleven. Through his drum set studies he was led to begin classical percussion lessons at age sixteen. Blake was then later accepted to North Carolina School of the Arts where he continued all of his musical training on a college level. Blake then transferred to California Institute of the Arts where he pursued a focus on drum set and world percussion exclusively. He graduated from CalArts in 1998 with his BFA and in 2000 with his MFA, both degrees in Music Performance Studies. Blake has since stayed active around the Los Angeles music scene, which has led him to touring the United States extensively with different bands and ensembles. He is currently an artist on Indie label Ubiquity Records with the Funk/Reggae/Rare-Groove band The Lions. Blake is also the touring drummer for Salvador Santana. Blake began accompanying dance classes in 2000 at Plaza de la Raza in Los Angeles. He has been fortunate to accompany workshops held by the Jose Limon Dance Company, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Hubbard Street Dance Company, and the Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Blake is currently playing dance classes for The Colburn School and Antelope Valley College. More info on Blake can be found on his website.

Jerry Kalaf (Colburn Faculty) has been active in the Jazz community for many years. His credits include performances and tours with Eddie Harris, Gary Burton, Gary Foster, Frank Strazzeri, Bill Mays, Bill Perkins, Jimmy Cleveland, The Pointer Sisters, Gregory Hines and Major Holley. Jerry has toured Europe, Asia, Russia, South America, Africa and the United States as musical director of the Jazz Tap Ensemble with performances at the Playboy Jazz festival in Los Angeles, Salzburg Jazz festival in Salzburg Austria and in New York, at Carnegie Hall, and the Apollo Theater. Active in the recording studios of Los Angeles, Jerry has participated as both a performer and composer in scoring sessions for hundreds of film and television shows. A recipient of a "Meet The Composer/California" grant funded by the National Endowment For The Arts and the California Arts Council, Jerry's recording "Just Like Old Times" is a collaboration with arranger Doug Walter and features eight of Jerry's compositions for string orchestra and piano trio. The arrangements challenge and inspire the soloists and show the two sides of Jazz Composition; the interpretation of the written note and the improvising musician's response to it. Jerry's most recent recording, "Welcome to Earth" features eight new compositions for Trio and Sextet.


Schedule of Events

TapFest is open to the public. Registration required. All workshops in Studio B unless otherwise stated.

10-11:15 am: Intermediate/Advanced Tap with Lee Howard (9–12 yrs)
11:30-12:45 pm: Advanced Tap with Sam Weber (13–25 yrs)
1-2:25 pm: Advanced Tap with Lee Howard (13–25 yrs)
1-2 pm: Intermediate/Adv. Tap with Michelle Dorrance in Zipper Hall (9–12 yrs)
2-3 pm: Drum Class with Jerry Kalaf in Zipper Hall (9–25 yrs)
2:30-4 pm: Intermediate/Adv. Tap with Michelle Dorrance (13—25 yrs)
4-5 pm: Intermediate/Adv. Adult Tap with Melinda Sullivan (adults)
5:30 pm: Performance in Zipper Hall


Location, Parking, and Cafe Information

All Tap Fest events will be held at various venues on the campus of the Colburn School. Maps and signs will be available on campus to direct you to each event. Visit this link for our address and directions.

Our campus is located one block from the Civic Center station off the Metro Red Line, and is convenient to many bus lines.

The Colburn Cafe will be open all day for this event. Grab-and-go salads, sandwiches, and beverages as well as a full grill menu will be offered.

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