Tap Dancer and Choreographer Michelle Dorrance, 2015 MacArthur Fellow

Tap Dancer and Choreographer Michelle Dorrance, 2015 MacArthur Fellow

I love creating dances, but I love creating music. I love creating stories with dance and music. My name is Michelle Dorrance. I’m a tap dancer, choreographer, and
artistic director of Dorrance Dance. First and foremost, I’m a tap dancer…but I
love creating and choreographing and composing. Most dancers and then for general
public, they think of tap dance as a dance form. And then for me, and most tap dancers and certainly
hoofers, tap dance is music. It’s really important for people to see both the history and the
foundation of where this form came from and the possibilities that they may not
have thought of yet. Tap dance is the first American dance form. People don’t know that tap dance is older than jazz music. But if we’re looking back to tap dance being an
alternative when the drum was taken away from the slave, what’s left but your body? Tap dance and the Blues come from the
same place and that they both find from that place of incredible oppression and
devastating history and they find their way through that oppression and that struggle to being
joyful expression is unbelievable and transcendent. The way those legacies, tap dance and the
Blues, are alive and rooted in everything today and so many people know
it and so many people don’t. People don’t necessarily know that tons of hip hop and breaking culture, and a lot of this stuff, came from tap dance. That’s why these things are
together and important to me. I love doing site-specific choreography, and to use St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery as an example, you get to explore different acoustic environments, inside of a room where you can hear a sock on the floor versus a barefoot versus a leather-soled shoe versus a wooden tap versus an aluminum tap, it just shows you the possibilities of what
we do with the form. When I wake up in the morning, what I wanna do is improvise. If I put
my shoes on and I go into a room I’m improvising. When I put a piece of music on I immediately, like even if I’m not dancing, I can see something. When I see something, I know I want to create it. So I have to choreograph those moments because I really want to see them, I need to see them. I love exploring
with improv moments with other dancers and for myself inside of work. My dream is to do everything I ever wanted to do. I’m hoping that I can be the artist
that I want to be for my dancers. I so admire and respect my dancers. I want to be
the example that I dream of being for them. So, if being a Fellow means I can be a better
version of myself for everyone I’m working with, what a blessing

local_offerevent_note January 15, 2020

account_box Matthew Anderson


3 thoughts on “Tap Dancer and Choreographer Michelle Dorrance, 2015 MacArthur Fellow”

  • This woman is amazing! She is so encouraging and inspiring! May all your dreams come true, Michelle Dorrance!

  • A hugely well-deserved honor. Your joy in creation is evident and that comes through to audiences. Congratulations!

  • Congratulations on you award. I think your tap stories are fantastic. Do you ever travel ? I 'd love to see you dance in the Seattle/Vancouver BC, Canada area. Victoria

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