BWW Previews: TAP DANCE FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT PRODIGY Cultural Arts Program at University Area Community Center

BWW Previews: TAP DANCE FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT PRODIGY  Cultural Arts Program at University Area Community CenterAshlyn Bolton's dance resume reads like someone much older than her 21 years. Ashlyn has performed in such programs as the Radio City Rockettes Summer Intensive, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade as well as being accepted into some of the most prestigious tap dance summer programs in the world. Named Creative Loafing's 2017 Best of the Bay "Best Local Dancer," she's opened for Chris Daughtry, Maroon 5 and The Counting Crows.

And it all started with a little girl at the Patel Conservatory.

Coming full circle, Ashlyn now teaches ballet at the same Conservatory where she was a student and she's preparing to get back on stage on Friday wearing the hat of producer, director and tap dancer for "Gotta Tap."

"I grew up at Patel and started dancing there when I was six or seven years old. I did all of the programs including theatre, dance and music. After I graduated, I continued pursuing dance and now I've returned to Patel to turn from a student to a teacher in the past year."

The new director of the Rhythm and Sole Tap Ensemble, Ashlyn has gathered some of the best tap dancers in Tampa Bay, ages 10 to 22, to put on a one-night only production of "Gotta Tap" at University Area Community Center. Proceeds of the evening will be benefit the center's cultural arts program Prodigy.

"The youth's cultural art program Prodigy supports local kids who are less fortunate and helps them express themselves in art, dance and music," she said. "I want to give back to our community and help the Prodigy program. Those kids are so talented and giving back the program is so important, especially since so many programs' funding is being cut back."

The Prodigy Cultural Arts Program is an early prevention community program designed to improve the life chances of at-risk students grades one through 12th by providing a safe arena where they learn communication, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.

The goal of the fundraiser "Gotta Tap" is two-fold - help the nonprofit and at the same time, make people aware of something they may not know - tap dance is flourishing in Tampa Bay.

"Gotta Tap is the most spectacular show all about tap dancing. We're celebrating the diversity of tap dance and music and the artform of tap dance," she said. "We showcase gumboot, rhythm tap, classical tap, original music in a whole bunch of different styles throughout the show. Basically, a whole bunch of tap dancers in Tampa are coming together to put on one big incredible show."

In addition to tap, there will be Irish dancing and a performance piece "Rhythm in Motion" where the tap dancers will make art while dancing. A piece of canvas with paint will forever capture the magic of the dancers' movements. The art piece created will be available for sale to benefit the Prodigy program.

"The audience should to expect to laugh, cry, smile, and just see a whole bunch of tap dancing. There's so much going into this show, the audience isn't going to know what to expect next," Ashlyn said. "I want people to know that there's many incredible tap dancers in this area. Tap dance is very much alive in Tampa Bay."

"Gotta Tap" is Friday, April 27 at 8pm at University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22nd St. Tickets are $12 at the door. More information is available by contacting Ashlyn at tampabaytaps@gmail.com.

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley

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