Tony Waag, Executive Director of the American Tap Foundation, on 16 Years of Tap City

Tony Waag, Executive Director of the American Tap Foundation, on 16 Years of Tap City

By Tony Waag, Guest Writer

Published on July 5, 2016
Photo of 2014 Tap Awards- Courtesy ATDF

Celebrate Tap's Living History. Join the Tap Treasures Tap Dance Storytelling Tour and more.

As Executive Director of the American Tap Dance Foundation, I’m always thinking of new ways to preserve tap dance history for the next generation. Keeping tap dance alive and ATDF’s mission of “creation, presentation, education and preservation” is really what its all about. Each year Tap City, the NYC Tap Festival, helps make those goals a reality.

July 9-16 marks the 16th year for Tap City, with award presentations, master classes and performances by local and international artists in a festival that has become the premiere meeting place for hundreds of American and International tap dancers to study, teach and perform.


New to Tap City this year is the Tap Treasures Tap Dance Storytelling Tour, a three-day citywide tour which explores tap dance history with an intimate, behind the scenes look at the legendary theaters, rehearsal spaces and landmarks which contributed to NYC’s rich evolution of tap dance. The Tap Treasures Tour will offer an “insider” look at each locale, and the role it played in the history and development of the art form.

Our three Tap Treasures Tours - UPTOWN on July 11, MIDTOWN on July 12 and DOWNTOWN on July 13, will include the legendary Apollo Theater, the “The New 42nd Street” (with a specific focus on the New Amsterdam Theatre and the Liberty Theater) the Copasetic Boat Ride (an annual three-hour sail around Manhattan), the Village Gate, the former Woodpeckers Tap Dance Center, and ATDF’s current home, the American Tap Dance Center.

"Tap Forward" at the Duke; Photo Courtesy of ATDF

We decided to begin the tour (Monday, July 11) at the legendary Apollo Theater to illuminate its rich and understated history of presenting more tap dance acts than any other theater in New York. Then, on Tuesday evening (July 12) at 7pm, there will be a candid conversation with Broadway choreographer Randy Skinner at the Duke on 42nd Street about the “The New 42nd Street” and the restoration of seven historic theaters where numerous tap dance luminaries started their careers, including Fred and Adele Astaire, Bill Robinson, Ray Bolger and Ruby Keeler. Finally on Wednesday evening (July 13) we begin our tour at the former Woodpeckers Tap Dance Center where we will present a short video about the history of the space followed by a personal reflection by tap master Brenda Bufalino and a reunion of former American Tap Dance Orchestra dancers. They will dance a bit and talk about their own memories of the tap dancers that taught and danced there, and the productions that occurred while in the space. Brenda Bufalino and the American Tap Dance Orchestra operated the center from 1989-1995 and it became the model for most of the current programs produced year-round by the ATDF today.

"Tap Forward": Caleb Teicher & dancers; Photo by Vitaliy Piltser

After that, Tap Treasures participants will stroll by what was once the Village Gate (another venue that presented a lot of tap dancers and tap production in the 1970’s & 80’s) and then finally end up at the American Tap Dance Center where Jane Goldberg (once known as the tap goddess of the lower east side) will share stories about the Village Gate followed by a cake and champagne reception in celebration of 30 years as a tap dance organization and hosted by ME!

Tony Waag at Tap it Out Times Square 2013; Photo by Debi Field

Each year we strive to make Tap City fresh with new ideas and approaches to preserve tap as a vital component of American dance. We’re pleased to invite our festival students, as well as the public, to tour with us this year and partake in a LIVING HISTORY of tap dance. Festival participants are arriving soon from around the world for the Tap City week.

Please join us!!

Tap City, July 9-16, will present performances, awards and events throughout NYC.
The Tap Treasures Show, a contemporary musical review of classic and contemporary dance will be at the Duke on 42nd Street, Thursday, July 14; ATDF’s Tap Dance Awards, Tap Future (an all-student showcase) and Tap it Out, 300 tapping feet in a free outdoor tap dance event in Foley Square, round out the Tap City week.
For more on Tap City performances and events, visit




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