By Kelly Bayer
What do you get when you mix African tribal dance and an Irish jig? Tap dance—America’s traditional dance form.
If you’ve ever wanted to give it a try, get your kids involved, or even just watch the pros have at it, the American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF) is a fantastic resource for classes and entertainment alike, and it’s right here in the West Village.
Inconspicuously tucked away on the second floor above the New Ohio Theatre at 154 Christopher Street (between Washington and Greenwich Streets), this two-room studio is a home base for some of the world’s greatest contemporary tap dancers and choreographers, as well as a fun and affordable practice space for dancers of all ages and skill levels.
Originally founded in 1986 by legendary tap dancers Brenda Bufalino, Tony Waag, and the late Honi Coles as a touring tap dance ensemble, the ATDF is now a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving tap dance history and keeping the art form alive.
With adult and youth classes offered every day of the week, ranging from Absolute Beginner to Advanced, the ATDF is the only dance studio in the neighborhood exclusively dedicated to tap dance.
The ATDF provides students the unique opportunity to learn directly from the pros. There are several knowledgeable Artists in Residence available for instruction, all with different cultural backgrounds, musical tastes, and influences. One thing they all have in common, however, is credentials. Each teacher fills a unique niche in the tap community through choreography, running their own tap companies (such as Dorrance Dance), or performing on Broadway or in other productions like STOMP.
What’s more, the ATDF is the most affordable place to tap dance in the City. New students pay just $9.00 for their first class. That is unheard of in a place where most studios charge about $20.00 per class regardless of whether it’s your first time or not.
Don’t have tap shoes? No problem. The ATDF has a wide selection of shoes available for students to borrow during class, a great feature for those who want to try tap dance but aren’t ready to invest in their own shoes. To top it all off, the studio is right by the water, so when you get out of class you can revel in the natural beauty and serenity of the riverfront.
The ATDF also regularly hosts events to enrich and develop the tap community, such as seasonal Tap Talks, workshops, tap jams, choreography showcases, and annual festivals like Tap City, and the New York City Tap Festival, which is coming up in July.
Last month, the ADTF hosted its annual choreography showcase, Rhythm in Motion, a five-day event at The Duke at 229 West 42nd Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues). There, many of the studio’s resident artists performed self-choreographed pieces, which demonstrated the versatility of tap dance as an art form. Dancers used tap to tell stories, make political commentary, and express a wide range of emotions, concepts, and themes. Given the current political, environmental, and social climate, it was very refreshing to see art and hear commentary expressed in this way, from the feet up.
Whether you’re looking to take up a new hobby, an art form, a fitness regimen, a musical instrument, or even Alzheimer’s prevention, tap dance is worth a try. If you’ve had the itch, the ATDF will help you scratch it. Set your souls on fire. Come tap dance at the ATDF!
For more information on The American Tap Dance Foundation, call (646) 230-9564 or visit atdf.org.