Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press
Dancers of all levels can shuffle over to Wayne State University’s campus for the sixth annual Motor City Tap Fest, hosted by Clarkston native Denise Caston, Aug. 15-17.
“We have classes for just about anybody,” Caston said. “The saying is, ‘if you can walk, you can tap dance’ — if you can make your way to Detroit for the tap fest, there’s something there for you.”
A former Radio City Rockette, Caston started Motor City Tap Fest in 2008 with her friend and fellow tap dancer Jennifer Miller from Rochester. Both are alumna of Oakland University’s dance program, and were reunited when Miller found Caston’s dance company flier and called for a class.
Though both have toured internationally, the dancers said Detroit is home and they want to bring the tap crowd here.
“Tap festivals happen all over the world, everywhere from Taiwan to Australia, Stockholm and Barcelona,” Caston said. “Motor City Tap Fest has definitely put Detroit on the map as a destination for tap dancers. I’ve had tap dancers come from Europe and around the continental U.S. and Canada. It feels really great to bring all these people down to the heart of Detroit (who) might not otherwise come down and experience it.
FYI: Motor City Tap Fest is Aug. 15-17 at the Wayne State University Campus at 42 W. Warren Ave. Tappy Hour takes place at Motor City Wine at 608 Woodward Ave, Detroit. The Masters of Tap Concert takes place at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. For more information on the camps, visit www.motorcitytapfest.com; to purchase tickets to the show, visit the Tap Fest website or www.dso.org.
Tappy Hour at Motor City Wine kicks off on the first day of the event,
providing an opportunity for adults to have a cocktail and learn some dance moves from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Motor City Tap fest is a nonprofit organization with need-based scholarships available to cover camp tuition.
This year’s festival features three days of master classes with nationally renowned tap artists, Caston said. Each day commences with a free stretch class. Dance lessons range from beginner to advanced levels for dancers of all ages, including improvisation courses and tap lessons.
On the final day, students who participate in all master classes by honoree Bob Sheerer will perform in the Masters of Tap Concert at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Orchestra Hall.
The students will be joined onstage by tap faculty comprising dancers from around the world, with music performed by Skeeto Valdez’s The Mighty Funhouse Band.
“Tap dancing always brings joy to others,” Miller said. “I’ve never seen anyone watch a tap dance and be angry or frustrated. Anytime I see anyone watch tap dancing, it always brings a smile to their face.”