An internationally acclaimed “tap dancer of unquestionable radiance” (The New York Times), Ayodele Casel, along with frequent collaborator Torya Beard have conceived and curated a series of seven different video performances of solos and duets, created and performed by a multigenerational and multicultural group of artists in this City Center-commissioned virtual series titled Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer V.6: Us.
“We all have something to say. We have something to give, something to communicate about who we are and where we’ve been. Diary of a Tap Dancer is predicated on the belief that by revealing our stories, we expose our shared humanity and provide a deeper understanding of how our life experience moves the dance.” —Ayodele Casel
Co-directed by Casel and Beard, the series is a continuation of a project begun in 2005 and in this iteration features performances from Casel and other tap artists including Amanda Castro, Starinah "Star" Dixon, Andre Imanishi, Ryan Johnson, Lisa La Touche, Ted Louis Levy, Michela Marino Lerman, Anthony Morigerato, Makenna Watts, and more. Kurt Csolak serves as editor of the series, with Darren Biggart and Anthony Morigerato acting as creative producers.
“[Casel says,] ‘These are video diaries about where we are now.’ Some address COVID-19, others express how tap has been misunderstood or dip into long overdue conversations about tap and race." —The New York Times
For more insights from Casel and the other tap dancers involved in this special series, read the full feature in The New York Times.
Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer V.6: Us performances premiere each week at noon beginning Tuesday, July 14 and run for seven weeks on City Center’s social media channels. You can also watch the performance videos below.
Ayodele Casel's Diary of a Tap Dancer V.6: Us has been commissioned by New York City Center.
All programming subject to change.
One of The New York Times' "Biggest Breakout Stars of 2019" and “a tap dancer of fine-grained musicianship” (The New Yorker), Ayodele Casel is a 2019-2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Born in the Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, she began her professional training at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her origins in theater and love for storytelling and tap dance have contributed significantly to the narrative nature of her work, which is rooted in the expression of identity, culture, language, and communication.
Casel began her relationship with City Center in 2016 performing her solo piece, While I Have the Floor, as part of the Encores! Off-Center Jamboree and was invited that October to reprise the work as part of the Fall for Dance Festival. She choreographed and performed in the 2017 Encores! Off-Center production of Carole King and Maurice Sendak’s Really Rosie, with Torya Beard serving as assistant choreographer. Both Casel and Beard served on the Encores! Off-Center Artist Board for three years. Casel also appeared with Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra in a one-night-only event as part of the ¡Adelante, Cuba! Festival in 2018. In April 2019, Casel along with O’Farrill, and Beard as creative director, helped launch City Center On the Move, a community engagement initiative first presented as part of City Center’s 75th Anniversary Season in partnership with NYC Parks Arts, Culture & Fun which brings world-class artists directly to New Yorkers in their own neighborhoods. Hailed by the legendary Gregory Hines as “one of the top young tap dancers in the world,” Casel has become an internationally sought-after artist and powerful voice for the art form. ayodelecasel.com
Torya Beard is a New York-based creative director, creative strategist, and arts educator. Her curvy professional path reflects a deep curiosity about and unwavering belief in the boundless possibilities at the intersection of creativity, artistic expression, and social justice. Recent projects include Ayodele Casel + Arturo O'Farrill at The Joyce Theater (creative director, assistant choreographer), YoungArts (regional multidisciplinary co-director, NYC 2019 and Miami 2020), Ayodele Casel's Diary of A Tap Dancer (director), Classical Theatre of Harlem's The First Noel (associate choreographer), all-female Jesus Christ Superstar in concert and She Is Risen album (producer), Idina Menzel 2017 World Tour (co-creative director), Ayodele Casel's While I Have The Floor (producer), City Center Encores! Off-Center's Really Rosie (assistant choreographer), and Ayodele Casel's Rooted for City Center On the Move (creative director). Torya is the executive director of A BroaderWay Foundation, co-founder of tall poPpy, and Original Tap House. toryabeard.com
A multidisciplinary artist, Amanda Castro is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts, where she studied under Glen Eddy of Nederlands Dans Theater and Andre Tyson from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Recent credits include Singin’ in the Rain (Olney Theatre Center) and 42nd Street (Ordway Center). @acastrodance
STARINAH "STAR" DIXON
Starinah "Star" Dixon is an assistant director, choreographer, and original principal dancer of world-renowned tap company M.A.D.D. Rhythms. She has performed as a guest with companies such as Michelle Dorrance's Dorrance Dance and as a part of Savion Glover’s All Funk’d Up. Dixon has taught and performed at the most distinguished tap festivals in the country including the LA Tap Fest, DC Tap Fest, RIFF Dallas, and more.
Andre Imanishi is a 2020 National YoungArts winner and was most recently seen at The Joyce Theater as part of the Ayodele Casel + Arturo O’Farrill production. His tenacious approach to training, passion for hoofing, and unique point of view have garnered invitations to perform with Cartier Williams, the Bernstein Tribute at the Kennedy Center, Ziggity Bop, The Giz, Ayodele Casel, City Center On the Move, and more.
The co-founder and artistic director for SOLE Defined, a percussive dance company, Ryan Johnson is also an artist-in-residence at Dance Place in Washington, DC. His work weaves together the techniques, history, and aesthetics of tap dance, body percussion, stepping, and theater to forge works that reclaim Black narratives. @rkj.dance
LISA LA TOUCHE
Lisa La Touche is co-founder of Training Dayz alongside Danny Nielsen in Calgary, and founder of Tap Phonics. La Touche has performed, choreographed, and taught worldwide on various independent projects. Recent credits include Shufﬂe Along, choreographed by Savion Glover and directed by George C. Wolfe. lisalatouche.com
TED LOUIS LEVY
Ted Louis Levy made his Broadway debut in the smash hit Black & Blue, and collaborated with George C. Wolfe and Gregory Hines on the choreography of Jelly's Last Jam (Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award). Other credits include: Spike Lee’s Malcom X, PBS’ Precious Memories (Emmy Award), Ted Levy and Friends, Dancing Under the Stars, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk!, and more. @tedlouislevy
MICHELA MARINO LERMAN
A globally sought-after tap dance artist, performer, choreographer, educator, and all-around creative spirit, Michela Marino Lerman has performed, choreographed, produced, and directed many projects throughout her career and has performed with masters including Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Savion Glover, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove, Barry Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Marcus Roberts, and many more. michelataps.com
Anthony Morigerato is a tap dancer, producer, director, content creator, writer, and Emmy-nominated choreographer. Morigerato is the executive producer and artistic director for AM Dance Productions. He is currently the co-artistic director for American Tap Festival and Operation: Tap, and continues to teach and choreograph for dance organizations, festivals, competitions, theater schools, and dance studios all over the world. amtapdance.com
A Florida-based tap artist, Makenna Watts is a member of Sole Talk Youth Company and has represented Florida in the Southern Open Rhythm Collective’s Youth Program.
As you enjoy digital inspiration right from our hearts to your home with Ayodele Casel’s Diary of a Tap Dancer V.6: Us, we hope you will consider making a gift of any size to provide direct, meaningful support to the artists, programs, and staff that make City Center a theater for all.
Studio 5 | Great American Ballerinas
Jul 16 & 30 and Sep 16, 23 & 30
All programs are on view for seven days following the first airing.
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland and New York City Ballet principal dancers Sara Mearns and Tiler Peck each work closely on performance excerpts with other acclaimed dance artists in this virtual five-part Studio 5 series curated and hosted by dance critic and historian Alastair Macaulay. Participating guests include Nina Ananiashvili, Merrill Ashley, Alessandra Ferri, Stephanie Saland, and Pam Tanowitz. Learn more.