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Hot Foot Honeys Tap Dance Company Presents
Vol. 1 | No. 4 | January | March 2020 |
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Join the Hot Foot Honeys, Memphis’ only professional tap dance company, for Lights / Camera / TAP!, their 7th annual show. Lights / Camera / TAP! comments on the intimate relationship of tap dance and film, and features choreography that ranges from Broadway-style showstoppers to pieces that integrate tap, contemporary dance, and spoken word. Each of the numbers in Lights / Camera / TAP! are inspired by an aspect of film, including: soundtracks, plots, characters, specific scenes, and even morals of stories taught through film.

The show also features choreography set on the company by world-renowned tap dancer Charles Renato (American Tap Dance Foundation, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway) and solo work by Memphis native Jessica Tenbusch, now a professional tap dancer with Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Tapman Productions. The closing piece ofLights / Camera / TAP! is a collaboration between the Hot Foot Honeys and DanceVersify Academy, Memphis’ Indian dance school, and fuses tap dance with Odissi, known for its storytelling through facial expressions, hand movements, and rhythmic footwork.

Lights / Camera / TAP! runs April 3-5 at the Buckman Performing Arts Center and is sponsored by the Tennessee Arts Commission.


Join the Hot Foot Honeys for master classes with Jessica Tenbusch!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (age 12 and under)
2:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. (age 13 and up)
@ Evergreen Theater, 1750 Poplar Ave.

Pre-register for $20 here by April 3!

$25 at the door, $10 to observe

Questions?  E-mail us at
by Marianne Bell
Meet Jessica Tenbusch, guest performer artist for Lights / Camera / TAP! A Memphis native, she trained at Ginny Mount School of Dance and later earned a B.A. in Dance from Western Kentucky University. She is a current company member of Stone Soup Rhythms, Chicago Human Rhythm Project's resident company, performing the works of Dani Borak and Michelle Dorrance. Jessica also dances with Tapman Productions, directed by Tristan Bruns. She has performed all over the Chicago area, as well as Italy, France, and Spain.

M: Tell us about your training in tap dance in Memphis and Chicago.

J: I began dancing at the age of 8 at Ginny Mount School of Dance in Collierville, TN. I took many classes in all different styles and did competitions and conventions; I always really enjoyed the tap classes. Upon graduating high school, I went to Western Kentucky University and received a degree in dance. Here I also studied many styles and my tap teacher, Amanda Clark, told me about a tap company she thought I would be interested in. This company was Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT), which I worked with for 3 years after graduating college and moving to Chicago. I studied and learned much from CTT 's artistic director Mark Yonally. I then began working with Tristan Bruns and his company Tapman Productions (TMPro). It was through Tristan that connected me with Chicago Human Rhythm Project. When I started dancing with them, I also began taking classes with amazing dancers such as Lane Alexander, Dianne Walker, Linda Sohl-Ellison, Sam Weber, Jason Janas, Tre Dumas III, Bril Barrett, all at the Rhythm World ta dance festival put on by CHRP yearly. And the most important thing about my training is that it is ongoing. I continue to learn and take classes whenever possible.

M: Where do you currently dance and teach?

J: I am currently dancing with Tapman Productions and Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Stone Soup Rhythms. I teach at LaPorte High School in LaPorte, Indiana. 

M: What has been your favorite performance experience as a professional tap dancer, and why was it your favorite?

J: I have had a lot of great experiences; but the performance that really sticks out would be when I performed with CHRP's Stone Soup Rhythms at the J. Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago. This is a stage that many people have performed on and it is a large outdoor space. I just remember being on the stage during rehearsals thinking "This is it, I'm living my dream." It was truly remarkable. 

M: What has been your biggest challenge in the professional dance industry or as a professional dancer?

J: The biggest challenge is not being able to just tap dance all the time. Unfortunately, for me and most dancers, dancing alone doesn't pay the bills, but I do enjoy that I at least get to teach dance. 

M: Tell us about the two solos you are going to perform in Lights / Camera/ TAP!  What were your inspirations for the choice of music?  How would you describe the style of each piece?

J: My first of two solos "On the Rocks" (from Moulin Rouge), is more stylistically theatrical. I wanted to evoke the feeling of the song which is a tango and I wanted to show the struggle that is happening at that time in the movie. The other solo is "New Wave" which is to the jazz tune "The Girl From Ipanema" from Get Yourself a College Girl. This dance is much more about just tap dancing. It is what we like to call "improvography". Some of it is choreographed, but it also has a lot of improvisation. I chose this song because it is my favorite jazz tune to jam to. 

M: What is your best advice for a young tap dancer who wants to be a professional tap dancer someday?

J: My best advice for a young tap dancer would be to go to tap festivals! They are everywhere! That is where you will get to take class with the greatest tap dancers alive right now, and you will get to be around tap dancers of all ages that share your passion. Festivals are where I have made connections with tap dancers all over the world and it is some of the most fun I have ever had dancing.
By Amber Dawson
The growth and evolution of dance is, and has always been fusion. As dancers, we are constantly inspired by those around us, becoming a vehicle  for the amalgamation of every unique piece we have seen and created. This year, the Hot Foot Honeys have had the privilege of working with DanceVersify Academy, and have created a collaborative effort that combines two styles of dance marked by fierce femininity, percussive footwork, and a deep passion and respect for one another’s artistry. From the eyes of choreographers Marianne Bell, Simanti Chatterjee and Sahiti Kilaru, get their take on this incredible collaboration:

A: What made you decide to collaborate on a Odissi and tap dance fusion style dance?

M: I was initially inspired by two videos I found while looking at social media. I follow many professional tap dancers online, and I saw Jason Samuels Smith first collaborating with Pandit Chiteresh Das in a show he produced called The India Jazz Suites about 8 years ago.  I was struck by the focus on complex rhythms in both tap dance and kathak, as well as between jazz and classical Indian music being played live. Then I went to Tap City in NYC one summer, and took a class with Michelle Dorrance, who was working on a show with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards called, Speak -- it was a quartet of women dancing kathak and tap together. Michelle was pushing the envelope by teaching us some really complex rhythms in 9/8 time signature, which she said were inspired by the Indian musicians.  I loved it and put the idea in the back of my mind.  When I found out that Memphis had a new dance school teaching Indian dance, I got excited and began finding out about DanceVersify Academy.  After seeing the Divas perform and meeting some of the dancers in person, I thought:  we could really do this collaboration!

S & S: Most collaborations are launched because you share a movement style, an artistic philosophy, or a personal relationship. The DanceVersify Artistry (fondly called D’Va) strives to bring together diverse dance styles and we strongly believe in the ethos of “fusion”. While Tap is more popularly fused with an Indian classical form called Kathak, the fusion with Odissi is probably the first few of its kind!Interestingly, we met Marianne (from the Hot Foot Honeys) for the first time when the D’Va squad had attended a beginners workshop at GPAC conducted by her. We thoroughly enjoyed the session and kept drawing parallels with our Indian classical and Bollywood styles. As we got to know more of each other and ideas kept interspersing, this collaboration was born! Through this journey we learnt a lot from each other, respecting our cultural differences and celebrating this coming together of two beautiful genres! We look forward to more such creations.

A: In your opinion, what made this piece work?

M: I think this piece works because tap and Odissi both have an emphasis on footwork; we are communicating the dance with our feet. All of the dancers and choreographers working on this piece understood that.  But, they were also willing to learn a new style of footwork as well. 

S & S: Well, this isn’t something that can be put together in a few minutes. When we started meeting to discuss and understand each other’s dance styles as much as possible, we came to a conclusion that we will interpret the artistic ideas in our own forms and stay true to its artistry. Odissi and Tap partner well together because they both have really strong footwork. Some of the joyous movements of the first encounters came in discovering similarities of the forms and the vast differences in how we foresee and hear rhythms and project them with our feet.

A: What do you feel were some of the challenges creating a cohesive piece with two similar, but often contrasting dance styles?

M: Some of challenges in creating a cohesive piece were basic challenges for any collaboration: scheduling, overall theme, choosing music and a structure, who was going to choreograph what part, casting, etc.  Simanti and Sahiti are both so great at communicating, that part was actually easier than usual!  Stylistically, the biggest challenge for the tap dancers was learning intricate arm, hand, and head movements from the Indian dancers.  Although the HFH are trained in many genres, Indian dance was brand new to all but one tap dancer, Katie McIntyre—she was a great bridge between our two companies.  For the kathak dancers, I believe that some of the shuffle and toe movements of tap dance were challenging. Overall, my goal was to learn as much as we could about each other’s style to create a fusion that looked and sounded great together, as well as feature the best parts of each type of dance.

S & S: Two heads can definitely be better than one, but creative collaborations does come with some strings attached. One of the first hurdles to cross was avail and scheduling! Though both the dance companies are from the bustling city of Memphis, D’Va resides mainly in the suburbs of Collierville and getting the troupe over for weekly rehearsals was not easy. The other aspect of this kind of creative collaboration is music! Luckily for both the groups, we loved what each of us picked and this was just a small reflection of how we approached this unison with an open mind and an urge to learn. It did take us days, and sometimes weeks to develop the flow of the choreography with seamless interaction between the two forms. Marianne is great at communicating and easy to work with. We discussed intricacies of both dance forms and snippets of inspiration back and forth until rehearsals actually began. Timing is an important element in Tap dancing, although D’Va dancers are trained in various other Indian dance forms, getting some of the shuffle and toe movements on time was challenging. For the HFH dancers, we believe that taking spins, learning the hand (mudras) and head movements were challenging. Both Tap and Odissi are heavily percussive forms of dance and use the dancer’s feet for rhythm. The difference is that while Odissi dancers perform barefoot, with bells or ghungroos, Tap dancers wear metal-soled shoes. The performance promises to show how similar we are in our own unique way.

A: What are some of your biggest dance inspirations? Were you able to use that inspiration in the creation of this piece?

M: I have so many dance inspirations, including Michelle Dorrance, Charles Renato, Josh Scribner, and Nico Rubio.  These are choreographers and dancers who were are not afraid of saying YES and trying new things.  They are innovators.  But my biggest inspiration has always been Gregory Hines.  He did everything—dancing, choreography, movies, singing, acting.  He was a collaborator.  I was absolutely able to use his inspiration, and my other tap inspirations, for this piece.  They are with me every time I choreograph.

S & S: We had watched an enthralling performance by the Dorrance Dance Company at GPAC, which was the final push for us to pursue our urge of curating a fusion with Tap, and who better than the Honeys! The other major inspiration is the Leela Dance Collective, who has been creating some beautiful pieces with Kathak and Tap. We have taken this to a whole new level with the fusion of Odissi and Tap.

A: The normal Hot Foot Honeys audience may not be familiar with Odissi. Can you briefly tell us what Odissi is, and why this style intersected so well with tap in your opinion?

S & S: Odissi is one of the eight recognized Indian classical dance styles, that originated from the carvings at the temple of Konark located in the eastern coast of Indian. This style is known for its graceful, feminine body movements that involves the torso. This is accompanied by a very rhythmic, bold footwork, that is performed using two main stances - “Tribhangi”, that depicts three bends in the body and “Chauka” that shapes the body in a square. The body and foot movements are complimented by a series of hand-gestures or “mudras” and facial expressions or “abhinaya”. The amalgamation of these elements of Odissi are stringed together to perform choreography with a storytelling narrative. The unique aspect of D’Va is that each of the instructors/core members are specialized in a particular Indian dance styles that ranges from classical to Bollywood. The Founder/President at DanceVersify, Simanti, is trained in Odissi for over 17 years and held a National Scholarship from the Govt. of India in the same. While Kathak is the more popular choice when it comes to collaboration with Tap, D’Va chose to leverage the style of Odissi with the Honeys, because firstly it mirrors the intricate footwork and secondly, it contrasts the boldness of Tap with a soft grace. Also, the Wonder Woman theme seemed to befit the feminine style with an innate fierceness, that is ingrained in both the D’Vas and the Honeys!

A: This piece uses music from the film Wonder Woman. When you chose the music, did you already have in mind a collaborative effort?  What does the musicality of this piece mean to you?

M: I generally knew I wanted to collaborate with DanceVersify, but I didn’t know how or what the piece would look like initially.  I didn’t have any music in mind.  When I decided on the film theme for the show, I started listening to movie soundtracks—just different ones from movies that I liked.  I absolutely loved the Wonder Woman movie from 2017.  I just looked up the soundtrack one day and started listening, and the theme music hit me hard.  I loved it immediately— driving beat, haunting melody, giant orchestration.  I started seeing a dance in my head.  I knew it had to have many dancers on stage and it felt like it would work with kathak dance as well as tap.  I actually didn’t even realize it was in 7/8 time until I started choreographing to it, because the whole song grabs you so much, you don’t think about counting!  You just listen.  Movie soundtracks are great at doing that-- capturing feelings-- because they are written to help tell a story. The musicality of this piece is so strong and powerful, it represented, to me, women who could take on the world and overcome anything.  That is what I want the dancers to portray—they are all strong, powerful women who have 
the capability to fight evil and do good in the world, especially when they are united.
by K. Brooke Jerome

Danielle Pierce was trained in jazz, tap, lyrical and ballet at All American Kids dance studio, where she competed, attended dance workshops, and performed at events around the Mid-South. Danielle was a member of the Arkansas State University (A-Team) Dance Team from 2005-07. She continued her dance training at The University of Memphis, studying various dance styles. In 2008, she graduated from The U of M with her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Spanish, and minor in Dance. Danielle is a member of the Southern Association of Dance Masters.  In 2016, she received Most Innovative Tap Instructor of the Year from the Destined 2 Dance awards.

B: Where do you currently teach tap and what kind of learning environments are they? 

D:  From 7-3, I start my day by teaching at Believe Memphis Academy (grades 4-6), through Collage Dance Collective's Turning Pointe outreach program. I also I teach at several dance studios during the week (ages 3-18), at the Dance Academy of Bartlett, DanzHouse, and Collage Dance Collective. 

B: What is your background in tap dance? How were you trained?

D: My background in tap dance comes from all of my dance teachers and professionals that would come to the studio for workshops and choreograph a piece each year. I put on my first pair of tap shoes at 3 taking classes once a week until I was 18 -- 4 days a week. I was 4 when I performed for the first time on stage to "Splish Splash", I starting competing at 5 going to dance conventions and summer intensives, and competing at dance nationals until I graduated from All American Kids. When I was 5, I remember my tap teachers and professionals talking about tap history, and that’s why I fell in love with it. I was lucky to be trained by tap teachers who started my background through history. Because of that, I was able to understand the style at an early age and continue to grow into the tap teacher I am today. After training with the American Tap Dance Foundation in New York (July ‘19), I’m able to continue to learn and teach my tap students the history too. 

B: What is your favorite thing about teaching tap dance?

D: I can teach tap dance to anyone, no matter what age. Another favorite is that I enjoy watching my tap students' faces when they understand and  are capable of executing steps consistently and effortlessly.

B: Where do you find inspiration when planning your tap dance lessons?

D: My tap students, my tap mentors, and anyone or anything around me give me inspiration. When I plan my tap dance lessons, I start by observing the tap student the first day they take class from me, and noting their strengths and weaknesses. 

B: What is your teaching philosophy for teaching tap dance? Does it remain consistent throughout each of the environments that you teach in?

D: Know your jazz music. You teach tap, you count to 4, but can you swing it?  Yes, my teaching philosophy stays consistent throughout each environment, no matter the environment. I like the standards for all of my tap students the same, because I push them to their limit and the outcome has been impressive. I’ve taught a kids at my school that are capable of harder rhythms, just like my students at the studio and conservatory. It’s a great feeling! 

B: What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a tap teacher?

D: My strength as a tap teacher is continuing my education of tap dance, so I can be a better teacher for my tappers. Because it’s really all about them! My weakness is not teaching enough tap dance to those who want to train but are unable to because of not having shoes or because of the area they are in. I would like to teach tap to more people who are open to trying out the style of dance. 

B: What is the best advice you can give to other tap teachers?

D: Know your history, play different music each class, play tap games, and continue to challenge your students in order for them to be the best they can be. At end of each class, I end a different way, like with shave and a haircut, a call and response, or even an improv circle. My tappers leave class sweating and smiling, with rhythms stuck in their heads!  
by K. Brooke Jerome
What is one of the most effective teaching tools to have in your repertoire? Taking your students out to experience LIVE tap dancing.

Tickets are on sale NOW for Lights / Camera / TAP!

Group rates available. Call 901.537.1483 for more details.
Get yours today!
Photo by Shannon Donovan
Photo by Shannon Donovan
K. Brooke Jerome, Company Member

Marianne Bell, Artistic Director
Amber Dawson, Company Member
Copyright © 2019 Hot Foot Honeys Tap Dance Company. All rights reserved.

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Hot Foot Honeys · P.O. Box 22971 · Memphis, Tn 38122 · USA

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