When feet heel-and-toe, shuffle and slide faster than the eye can follow, that's what we like to call tap. Where dancers' bodies glide along effortlessly atop furiously flying feet, that's where you'll find (this week, at least) the St. Louis Tap Festival, hosted and directed by the Robert L. Reed Heritage Institute.
This year's festival kicks off, as usual, with the Street Jam, held on Wednesday, July 28, in front of the Mayfair Hotel downtown. Master classes in tap are taught at Dimensions Dance Studio over the next four days, and the festival culminates in All That Tap VIII: The Dream Team, a performance by individuals, groups and dance companies from all around the U.S., as well as some featured local performers. Alfred Desio, Pascal Hulin, the Austin Tap Company, the Kennedy Tap Company, Jan Feager, Acia Gray and many others take the stage at the Fox Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 1, with live music by the Danny Holgate Band.
The master of ceremonies for the show is one of St. Louis' most treasured celebrities, Mickey Carroll, one of the original Munchkins from MGM's classic The Wizard of Oz, and the show's headliner is tap superstar Savion Glover. Glover's role in the film Tap cast him as tap's heir apparent, and now he has ascended to the throne. His career has covered the stage, film and TV, including a five-year stint on Sesame Street and the conception and choreography of Broadway's Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. Glover will also be one of the many teachers of the Master Classes in tap this week.
This year's festival is dedicated to Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates, who died in December at the age of 91. Bates, a tap dancer, lost his leg in a mill accident as a child but, through his perseverance and his love of tap, became an inspiration and something of a star. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show more than once and was also a featured act in last year's St. Louis Tap Festival.
For more information on the St. Louis Tap Festival, call the Robert L. Reed Heritage Institute at 776-4914, or, for tickets, call MetroTix at 534-1111.