With dance performances across the country postponed until further notice, The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble based in Philadelphia has launched #HoofersAtHome, a weekly series of short dance films designed to keep their roster of professional dancers rehearsing remotely while offering audiences some much-needed levity during the pandemic. The brainchild of Managing Director Katie Budris and longtime ensemble dancer and videographer Meg Sarachan, #HoofersAtHome films have been shared around the world, and many of the ensemble’s Facebook fans are now asking where they too can get their own tap boards.
“We had so many gigs and performances lined up in the coming weeks, including our annual spring concert series, On Tap, at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre,” notes the ensemble’s Artistic Director, Kat Richter. “But we’re tap dancers: our art form is one of resilience. We’re used to getting by with very little and having some fun in the process.”
Now, instead of rehearsing in person, the all-women company is honing its craft in basements, backyards, and living rooms across PA, NJ, and DE. Each week, Sarachan assigns a new song and the dancers record themselves improvising a solo. During the first week of the social distancing “lockdown,” it was “Put on a Happy Face.” Week two called for Lizzo’s “Good as Hell.”
“If you think back to the 1930s and 40s, tap is an art form that has brought people great joy during difficult times,” explains Sarachan, who produces each film by editing the footage together from the ensemble’s 11 First Company Dancers and 14 Apprentices. “We wanted to create something that would lift people’s spirits during the pandemic.”
The films have proven so popular that for the third installment of #HoofersAtHome, Sarachan asked the dancers to create percussion using not just their tap shoes but everyday objects around their house. She then layered the footage to create a series of intricate polyrhythms set to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
“You’ll see babies, kids, even the occasional dog,” says Richter. “It was important to me that we do not try to erase the work of parenting while also being an artist, and that we find a way to keep our dancers working—and keep paying them for their work during this time.”
Up next are a tribute to the late Ellis Marsalis, a lighthearted nod to Singin’ in the Rain, and a chance for the ensemble’s high-school aged Apprentices to don their prom gowns and show their stuff. Videos premiere each Friday on the ensemble’s Facebook page, Instagram account, and YouTube channel.
Put on a Happy Face (March 20, 2020) https://youtu.be/3GrTgF-0d1o
Good as Hell (March 27, 2020) https://youtu.be/9WHi-8UOAhc
Don’t Worry, Be Happy (April 3, 2020) https://youtu.be/SPsV2BSI3xc
The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble produces original works of choreography while preserving the tradition of improvisation in American rhythm tap, bringing innovative percussive dance to diverse audiences. Founded in 2011, the Philadelphia-based, all-women ensemble is led by Kat Richter, Founder and Artistic Director, and Katie Budris, Managing Director. Through choreographic commissions, a bi-annual concert series including THE TAPCRACKER and ON TAP, free community performances, and arts education programming, the ensemble centers the work of women artists and contributes to the revitalization of Philadelphia’s rich tap history by challenging the public’s perception of percussive dance. Support for The Lady Hoofers provided in part by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. For more information, visit: http://www.ladyhoofers.org
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