Dancers tap to tunes at Montavilla ‘concert’

Take a look, and discover the fascinating tap-dancing show coming to Portland Metro Arts on May 10 and 11 …

Justene Wallis, Kelsey Habura, Jana White, and Jordann Wallis warm up with a series of “chorus line kicks” – as they prepare for their upcoming show, Music & Sole – A Medley of Rhythm, Swing & Jazz for Your Soul.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Almost every Monday evening, a group called the Skylark Tappers can be found working on dance numbers in a rehearsal studio at Montavilla-based Portland Metro Arts (PMA).

On April 29, the dance troupe was in PMA’s Main Stage Theater, preparing for their 11th annual show, entitled Music & Sole – A Medley of Rhythm, Swing & Jazz for Your Soul.

Skylark Tappers’ Artistic Director Judy Tibbles suggests a transition to the dancers, as they rehearse a number.

As the dancers warmed up, Skylark Tappers’ Artistic Director Judy Tibbles talked about the organization.

“Skylark Tappers started in 1987,” Tibbles told East Portland News. “I came on board in 1992, and I’ve been with them since.”

Tibbles said she too is a “tapper”, but also a teacher and a choreographer. “The word ‘tapper’ is part of our name, but we refer to our art as ‘tap dancing” – or colloquially – hoofers!”

These Skylark Tappers artists work on an ensemble number.

People are attracted to tap dancing, Tibbles said, “Because this is such a happy, joyful, and fun dance form. We make sounds that become part of the music. It’s all very upbeat. We have a great time and a lot of fun with it.”

They have both young and older people in their group. “Unlike some forms, like ballet, a person can enjoy and participate in tap dancing for years. So, there are places for people of all ages in our group,” Tibbles said.

Their two shows, on May 10 and 11, will feature local musical artists, including special guest jazz singer Marilyn Keller; backed up by the live music combo featuring Jack Buddeke, Mike Snyder, Jeff Homan, and Joshua Simon.

Numbers include:

Dude Ranch Blues – A playful romp back to Portland’s flapper days.
August Alibi – A laid back and collaborative number choreographed by Company members.
Melodies in Metal – Rhythm takes center stage in this number as tap shoes create the music.
Red Hot Swing – Presenting the best of the great tap rhythms from the past put to a medley of hot old swing tunes.
Coles’ Stroll – A classic dance choreographed by tap legend Charles “Honi” Cole.

You’ll smile and tap your toes as “Tiki Man” is incorporated into a dance number during the upcoming Skylark Tappers show.

Weekend matinee shows
Music & Sole – A Medley of Rhythm, Swing & Jazz for Your Soul will be performed on both May 10 and May 11 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets: $20; call (503) 245-3994 or email for more information to purchase, or for more information. The concert is at Portland Metro Arts, located in Montavilla at 9003 SE Stark Street.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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