Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 12:05 am
By Cassidy Swanson
Special to the Eagle-Tribune
NORTH ANDOVER — Tap United, the annual tap dancing festival hosted by North Andover’s Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studios, is not your typical dance recital. Featuring hundreds of tap dancers from around the world, when they say this event is “spec-tap-ular,” they mean it.
“Even if one was not a dance lover, (there is) something for everyone,” said Nancy Chippendale, owner of Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studios. “A lot of people in the past have said that this is better than a Broadway show — their words, not mine.”
Tap United, one of the largest tap dancing festivals in the world, will feature a variety of stars in the tap community. Sarah Reich and Maud Arnold from of the dance troupe Syncopated Ladies, who recently competed on “So You Think You Can Dance,” Los Angeles-based dancer/choreographer Jason Janas, and Josh Johnson, a two-time veteran of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” will be among the featured dancers.
This year is the 10th anniversary of Tap United. Chippendale’s studio began dancing with international teams in 2003, when the team was invited by the United States Dance Team to compete in the International Dance Organization World Tap Championships in Germany. The dancers from all countries forged friendships over their shared love of tap.
“Our students and families really valued the opportunity, because, yes, it was about dance and it was about working hard, and about work ethic and all that, but it’s also about learning about cultures and meeting people from all over,” Chippendale said, adding that there were approximately 30 countries represented at the championship and 3,000 dancers. “Even though we don’t speak the same language, we do with our feet, so we all manage to communicate.”
While tap is an American artform and still most popular in this country, Chippendale said, popularity is spreading abroad, especially in Europe. And the addition of Chippendale’s team has upped the profile of the World Tap Championship across the pond.
“Once we got over there, then everybody else started training harder, hiring American teachers to come over there, and then bringing their dancers over here to train,” Chippendale said. “The talent is getting bigger over there and getting better.”
Chippendale’s studio began inviting their European friends in 2005 when Team Germany, headed by IDO organizer Michael Wendt, came to North Andover. This year, dancers from Germany, England, Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic will join the American dancers in this year’s performance. Wendt will serve as this year’s master of ceremonies.