The Skylark Tappers Present Their First Show Since the COVID-19 Pandemic

Local tap dance company performs new works and old favorites set to live music in their November concert.

By: Oct. 21, 2022

Skylarks On Tap is coming to the Chapel Theatre in Milwaukie, OR, this November. This is the Skylark Tappers' 15th full-length concert, and is their first production since Fall of 2019. The Skylarks will perform a variety of rhythm tap and show tap pieces, danced to live music ranging from jazz to Latin.

Audiences will be treated to an immersive experience of music and dance, starting with the group's signature piece: an upbeat version of the classic song "Skylark." The concert features choreography set to works from Portland-based composers, including songs such as "Show Pain" by Gordon Lee and "Walter's Tune" by Phil Goldberg. The Skylarks will also dance to "Finally, Safe Waterring," an original composition by musical director Jack Buddeke.

"As tap dancers, we are musicians and our shoes are our instrument," says Judy Tibbles, artistic director for the Skylark Tappers. "We are thrilled to work with such talented Portland musicians who help us enhance our artform. People who come to the show should expect to be entertained by remarkable dancers and musicians alike and get a glimpse into the exceptional connection between tap and music." Tibbles participates in the local jazz scene with tap dance improvisation, which is where she first connected with many of the musicians playing the concert.

The Skylark band includes musical director Buddeke on keyboard, Jeff Homan on saxophone, Rivkah Ross on drums, and Ben Medler on bass. Marilyn Keller, a 2016 Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame Inductee, lends her signature powerhouse vocals to the group.

The Skylark Tappers are Missy Eseppi-Desmarais, Becky Goldcrump, Sheri Leipzig, Liz O'Donnell, Rachael Singer-Brown, Alyssa Staab, and Briana Whitehead. They are led by artistic director Judy Tibbles and assistant artistic director Victor Torres. Choreography is presented from Tibble, Torres, Singer-Brown, and Whitehead. The concert also includes improvisation by both the dancers and musicians.

Back in 1978, Claire (Hallstead) Roche started The Company in her Skylark Studio. She wanted to share her love of tap beyond the studio. The Company, made up of students picked from her classes, would later become the Skylark Tappers. Over the years, the Skylark Tappers were asked to entertain at various benefit concerts around town. In 1983, many were involved in a commercial celebrating the restoration of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Now under the artistic direction of Judy Tibbles, who has led the group since 1992, the company promotes the joy and artistry of this uniquely American dance form with inventive choreography, commanding stage presence, and contagious enthusiasm. The group's repertoire includes classic rhythm tap routines lovingly passed down by 20th-century tap masters and new choreography set to a variety of musical genres that include classical, swing, pop, contemporary, and jazz.

Our dancers have enriched their tap skills by taking classes with celebrated tap masters such as Cholly Atkins, Portland's own Terry Brock, Eddie Brown, Brenda Bufalino, Charles "Honi" Coles, Steve Condos, Heather Cornell, Arthur Duncan, Savion Glover, Acia Gray, Leonard Reed, Jason Samuels Smith, Jimmy Slyde, Linda Sohl-Ellison, Dianne Walker, and Sam Weber.

To date, the Skylark Tappers have produced 14 tap concerts, with Skylarks On Tap being its fifteenth. Additionally, the group has appeared at numerous events and fundraisers, including the LEAP Talent Show, Portland Rose Festival, grand opening of McMenamins Grand Lodge, Portland's International Day of Dance, Portland Metro Arts' Dance Mosaic, Multnomah Arts Center's Vaudeville Night, Art Beat, ArtQuake, and Portland's National Tap Dance Day.

Judy Tibbles is the recipient of the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Dance Coalition of Oregon. She teaches tap and promotes visiting artists and events to help keep Portland's tap community strong. Her tap dance history includes serving on the Board of Directors for Rhapsody in Taps in Los Angeles, volunteer work for the Portland International Tap Festival, helping to plan local National Tap Dance Day celebrations and the creation of two tap dance story plays with Dede Priest. She is also the Artistic Director and choreographer for The Portland Tap Connection.

Skylark On Tap

Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 2pm & 7pm

Sunday, November 13, 2022 at 2pm

Chapel Theatre

4107 SE Harrison Street

Milwaukie, OR 97222

Cost: $25 - $35


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