MELANIE MINTY: Learning to tap dance has changed my life

MELANIE MINTY: Learning to tap dance has changed my life

SURREY — Dance is a big industry in Metro Vancouver. It seems we do love to dance – any age, any style. Lucky us, we have so many options and opportunities to enjoy this genre of the performing arts. Dancers live among us. You will spot them at these dance events, all at the end of May. Or, shall I say, hey, hey – it’s May! Let’s dance!

There is no secret that I tap dance – really crazy about it. Can’t say I will ever be in the “professionally good” category, but after about a decade, I can almost dazzle the non-tappers. Learning to tap dance has actually changed my life. Who knew that joining an adult-beginner tap class would lead to me participating in dance recitals and competitions? I’m actually a performer, rather than dance mom. I also bought a dance-wear store (I can have all the shoes I want) and joined West Coast Tap Dance Collective as a board member.

The Collective is not a dance studio or performance company. Its mandate is to promote tap dancing. This very small organization has done quite a remarkable job of bringing public attention to tap dancing over the 12 years of its operation. 

Canada has a history of outstanding tap dancers. Who knew? Well, that is partly the point of the Collective: to educate.

As part of the annual Tap Dance Day Celebrations, West Coast Tap Dance Collective will mediate a panel of noted tap-dance educators who will discuss various styles, issues and approaches in the education of tap dance. Really, this is exciting. Tap Talk (gotta love the name) is on Friday, May 23, 7 p.m., at the Alice Mackay Room of Vancouver Public Library. I know this is short notice, and info was sent out to all tap teachers, but I thought it would be interesting to attend as a non-teacher. Maybe it’s a chance to learn how to learn – always a challenge. Panelists include Jim Hibbard, Paula Skimin, Jennifer Bishop and Lisa LaTouche. Live performances and demonstrations will be included, followed by an open discussion period. Admission is free. That is a good deal. Bring your tap shoes.

And don’t forget, tickets are still available for All That Tap, this year’s International Tap Day show. Yep, this is the day that tap dancing is celebrated around the world. All That Tap, is this Saturday, May 24 at Massey Theatre in New Westminster, starting at 7:30 p.m. Local talent, along with invited guest performers from across Canada and the U.S., are showcased. The tribute this year is to legendary local tap teacher and mentor Peggy Peat. Tickets are available at the Massey ticket centre (604-521-5050) and, locally, at DanceCraft.

For the end of May, we can return to the beautiful Surrey Arts Centre. In its third season, Coastal City Ballet presents a new commission of ballet’s great comedy, Coppelia. Based upon two stories by E.T.A. Hoffman, and set to Leo Delibes’ irresistibly melodic score, this comedic full-length ballet is choreographed by Irene Schneider, former artistic director of Germany’s Magedeburg Ballet. This is a delightful story, and a favourite classical ballet. It runs on May 31 at the arts centre’s main stage, 7:30 p.m. start. Tickets at 604-501-5566.

Coastal City Ballet actively seeks talented ballet dancers with strong classical training for its company. This pre-professional ballet company is located in Vancouver and is yet another opportunity for serious ballet dancers to stay at home and train for a career in ballet. The company will hold its annual auditions for the 2014-2015 season on Sunday, June 8. Pre-registration is required; check out Coastalcityballet.com for more details. You will need a full-length ballet photo and a resumé.

Diskordance is a Surrey-based contemporary dance company. Its next presentation is Saturday, May 31 at the studio theatre at Surrey Arts Centre. Look at that, you can start off a dance day with edgy contemporary and finalize it with classical ballet, all at the same place. ARIA, diskordance’s presentation, combines fire with air in a tale of the elements. Tickets at the box office, 604-501-5566.

That brings us to the end of May – the dance-a-ganza. After the month-long Surrey Festival of Dance at the arts centre, and several other dance competitions and now two full-length dance presentations, you’d think the arts centre would be danced out by now. Uh-uh. June is just full of dance recitals. Told ya. Dance is a big industry. There are dancers among us.

melminty@telus.net