The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presents the Philadelphia debut of tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel, streamed live, on Thursday, May 6 at 7 PM. Mentored by the legendary Gregory Hines, who hailed her as “one of the top young tap dancers in the world,” Casel has become a powerful voice for the art form of tap dance, consistently performing to sell-out crowds and receiving rave reviews. Casel will be joined by special guests, singer/songwriter and Broadway alum Crystal Monee Hall, and acclaimed composer/pianist Annastasia Victory, for an all-female program directed by Torya Beard. This event will include a live, interactive Q&A with the performers. Visit AnnenbergCenter.org for more information.
One of The New York Times’ “Biggest Breakout Stars of 2019,” Ayodele Casel, “a tap dancer of fine-grained musicianship” (The New Yorker), was recently a 2019-2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University where she researched and developed her acclaimed theatrical work Diary of a Tap Dancer. Born in the Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, Casel began her professional training at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her origins in theatre and love for storytelling and tap dance have significantly contributed to the narrative nature in her work, which is rooted in the expression of identity, culture, language, and communication. Her commitment to the personal development of young people throughout her career landed her the role of Director of Graduate Programs for A BroaderWay Foundation, where she mentors young women in NYC. She is also the co-director of the Original Tap House and Operation: Tap.
A frequent New York City Center collaborator, Casel was commissioned to create an interactive performance for its inaugural On The Move series aimed to engage NYC communities. She recently collaborated with legendary Latin jazz composer Arturo O’Farrill premiering a show at The Joyce Theater in the fall of 2019.
Casel is continually striving to have tap dance and its artists included in conversations and spaces surrounding all art and culture. She has become an internationally sought-after artist and a powerful voice for the art form. Her work is predicated on the belief that when we reveal our stories, we expose our shared humanity and make a more significant impact with our work.
Casel’s television and film credits include Third Watch, Law and Order, The Jamie Foxx Show, Bojangles and Savion Glover’s Nu York. She originated the role of Yvonne in Nelsan Ellis’ heart-wrenching play, Ugly, to great reviews at NYC’s Fringe Festival and Santa Monica Playhouse. She also originated the role of The Doll in Derick K. Grant’s Imagine Tap!, which premiered at the Harris Theater in Chicago. Casel served on the Artist Board for New York City Center’s Encores! series under the artistic direction of Tony Award®-winner Jeanine Tesori.
She has earned commissions from Aaron Davis Hall/Harlem Stage and the Apollo Theater’s Salon Series, where she presented Diary of a Tap Dancer. She was also selected by acclaimed composer Rob Kapilow to collaborate on a tap dance concerto which premiered at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Casel also co-choreographed Tap Into Peace, a show with the incredible music of Stevie Wonder as its inspiration and soundtrack. The show has been presented at New York City Center’s Fall for Dance festival and Playhouse Square in Cleveland.
Casel has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and off-Broadway in Savion Glover’s hit tap show Savion Glover/Downtown. She co-choreographed and was featured in the PBS broadcast Rodgers and Hart Story: Thou Swell, Thou Witty. She has been creating and presenting her own work since 1999 in venues that include the Apollo, New York City Center, Aaron Davis Hall/Harlem Stage, Lisner Auditorium, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Symphony Space, The Joyce SoHo, Dance Theater Workshop, the Triad Theater and Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater.
A Capezio athlete, Casel has appeared on the cover of Dance Spirit, American Theatre Magazine and The Village Voice and has been featured in several other magazine articles. She has worked and performed with the greatest tap dancers and companies including Gregory Hines, Jazz Tap Ensemble, American Tap Dance Orchestra and Savion Glover as the only woman in his company N.Y.O.T. (Not Your Ordinary Tappers). Her work has been presented nationally and internationally, and she continues to strive to make tap dance a relevant presence in the arts. ayodelecasel.com