As a member of Tap Club, the first imperative is: Don’t talk about Tap Club.
No, wait, that’s Fight Club. Sorry. You can talk all you want about AZ Tap Club—a merry band of steely toed connoisseurs of an art form that dates to the jazzy minstrels of the mid-1880s—that meets Sundays from 2-3:30 p.m.
Indeed, when she’s not tapping away at the group’s McClintock Drive headquarters at Wall-2-Wall Dance Center in Tempe, club co-founder Jenefer Miller was willing to talk a lot and answer a reporter’s questions about the club, its history and its future.
What is AZ Tap Club? —AZ Tap Club is a place for tap dancers to gather, share and grow. It began as an idea between two friends, nationally sought-after Miller, a master tap teacher, and Tucson resident and owner of Danswest Studio, Megan Maltos.
We are creating a place to host classes, share footage of dancers from the past and present, talk through the history of the art form and tell stories, as well as find time to spend with one another. Whether one is a lifelong practitioner of tap, a budding young tap dancer, or dance educator in Arizona, AZ Tap Club is the best place to hone their craft and share ideas.
It’s a place to dive deeper into music theory, phrasing, improvisation, to work with live musicians, train the next generation of tap dancers and teachers, and embrace our tap dance history. By rotating advisers (local and guest teachers), we keep the material fresh. Together, we will up the tap game in Arizona and put the heat of the feet on the tap map.
What was your first experience with tap? — It goes back to when I was about 4 years old and my mother showed me Sammy Davis Jr. tap dancing on TV. I was mesmerized and began taking classes at age 5. I got serious somewhere around middle school and I’ve had the opportunity to train with Savion Glover, the Nicholas Brothers, Dianne Walker and Jimmy Slyde, all greats of the industry.
How would you define tap dancing, compared to other familiar forms of dancing? —
Tap dance is a highly energetic, polyrhythmic, percussive dance form created right here in the United States. Influenced by jazz music and musicians, it is meant to express emotion.
What level of fitness should a person be in before attempting tap? — I think anyone can tap dance. And I mean that. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, and many tap dancers I have known have danced well into their 80s. In fact, I studied with Harold and Fayard Nicholas of the famous Nicholas Brothers when they were in their 70s.
Does Tap Club ever perform publicly, or is it strictly for fun and exercise? — I personally travel around the country both teaching and performing solo. In addition, Megan and I both dance with local tap company Tap 24.7, which I co-founded with another local tap teacher, Suzy Hall.
For now, the club is more about sharing, but the public will be able see some of us perform at the Phoenix Tap Fest in January. We want the world to know tap dance is alive and well.
Go to aztapclub.com for details