Tap Dance in Madrid has quite an interesting history that very few know about.
We're not going to go into detail with that here - although if you visit WWW.MAD TAP.ORG you can probably find more information on that.
When I arrived in Madrid from El Puerto de Santa María in 2007, I frequented a Manouche Jam that took place at a very special venue in Lavapies called Artepolis – where coincidentally a tap jam also took place once a month. When the venue closed down, I was determined to start my own tap jam….little did I know that there were already tappers making things happen in Madrid, a blog for tap in Madrid, a company that travelled & did street performances, offerings of workshops with guests, of tap culture, regular classes with teachers who’d been here for many years - many who’d previously worked in television and theater or written a book, an established school of tap dance with it’s own special method and even performers by the name of Mad Tap! There were even tappers who made their rounds at the jazz jam sessions. I just wanted to be a part of it all!
With all this great tap activity going on, there was no meeting point, no place to connect and exchange tap love, to propose to hit some wood together, to share a choreography, show off what was learned in class, to improvise with live music - freely rather than squeezing into a solo. Guests visits became more and more scarce because of the lack of consistency.
When there were Workshops, I’d meet tappers and there would be a lot of interest in doing more, but the time and energy required to the commitment of such organization of activities was extremely overwhelming to take on with all of the other obligations life requires.
After returning from teaching a workshop in Galicia (North of Spain) I was determined to learn more in order to become a better tap dancer and tap dance teacher! ¿But how? The only resource was to contacted a tap association across the ocean in NYC - which put me in contact with Guillem Alonso in Barcelona - who put me in contact with Roxane Butterfly who would be teaching a workshop in Madrid.....Who would bring Ludovico Hombravella back into my life.....
I'd originally met Ludo (Ludovico Hombravella) at a Jam Session in Madrid in 2007, and we got along so swell, but he'd just moved to Barcelona. It was after Roxane had connected us a year and a half later that we really just clicked. He began performing with me - and we decided to start a Tap Dance Jam session. As a vocalist, I had access to various jazz clubs - and of course the swinginest musicians.
And so it was...on Monday June 8th 2009 we started what was then called the Swing and tap Jam Sessions at Junco Jazz Club. I think there were very few tappers who had a clue about what to do on stage with live musicians (myself included), but we were clueless Together! In 2014, the MAD TAP Jams (As they have been called since 2010) claimed O'neill's Irish pub as their home and turned seven years old in 2016!!! Seven years of Bringing tappers interested in improvisation together.
Being a well establishd Jazz club, Junco also opened our jams up to all sorts of musicians that would stop by just to hang out - and end up playing along with us, actors, different kinds of dancers, from different countries, we even got a number of gigs ourt of it and T.V. Coverage of Tap dance and the jams!
After about a year of jam Sessions, some chatting and exchanging of ideas, I decided to organize workshops and activities for Tap Day – which would grow to become the MAD TAP FEST. Meeting tappers I’d never met before, tappers from outside of Madrid, Tappers who hadn’t taken classes in years, Tappers who were mingling with other tappers for the first time, tappers who discovered things about tap that they didn’t know – that was amazing to see happening.
With the help of some amazing people the seed was planted and I vowed to dedicate myself to tap in Madrid for three years. In Spring 2014 The MAD TAP FEST celebrated it’s 5th edition and the MAD TAP jam sessions celebrated six years. Those years also gave way to: an online meeting point (web & social media), opportunities to perform in theaters, to share tap dance on the streets, on the Radio, Television, News papers and organization of workshops and performances with artists and participants from Greece, Washington DC, Finland, Australia, Germany, Los Angeles, Mexico, Seattle, England, Canada, Russia, all over Spain and local talents as well!
2010 I MTF The very first tap dance day Consisted in one jam packed day of activities: morning open level classes with John O'Brien and Ludovico Hombravella; Returning to tap dance roots by bringing it to the streets; A group Lunch with special viewing of Roxane Butterflys Film on her mentor Jimmy Slyde and an evening tap jam at the Ritmo & Compas club.
2011 II MTF our special guest was Thanos Daskolopoulos from Greece, John O'Brien, and local teachers leading themed taster classes and we even offered a kids tap class. Charlie Faber had us share some rhythms on his program at the Spanish National Radio (RNE); Our Opening performance took place at Teatro Arenal in the center of Madrid; Our Tap in the streets was on a stage in front of a crowded audience -as may 2011 was also the birth of the "podemos" movement and we brought some rhythm to the movement!
2012 III MTF our guest was Ulrike Neth from Germany, our dearest John O'Brien, and once again Local teachers for themed taster classes. In addition to our radio interview with Charlie Faber at RNE, the television also came to do a live interview in Arlequin Theater on Gran Via right before our grand opening! We had Tappers, jazz step dancers, Street dancers, Flamenco, a local tap dance company - And for the first time live music was finally integrated into the tap dance classes.
2013 IV MTF Inspired in the format of the Meet Share Dance Festival, the structure of the Festival was more exchange focused. We received classes from a special guest from Finland, Jussi Lindroos, as well as flamenco, and other special themes with local teachers. This was also the year of the MAD TAP cookies and MAD TAP Bags!
2014 V MTF In celebration of five years of MAD TAP FEST and preparation for a brief haiatus, the intention was to return to a very simple laid back format similar to that of the very first MAD TAP FEST in 2010. Roxane Butterfly and John O'Brien returned. Due to his recent diagnosis, Ludovico was unable to partake n this tradition which he helped begin. And soon, this small laid back plan had a guest from Australia, the US and Canada! Two elements that had been fighting their way to be a part of the festival, also made their debut in this edition of the MTF: Music for tappers workshop and a very interesting panel discussion.
2015 - Present Day
In the past I’ve thought about taking time off from organizing to turn my focus on just being an artist, but then Madrid, in regards to consistency, would be back at square one….there would be no jams, workshops, etc….But now…….what better time could there have been to take a sabbatical! Those seeds that were planted years ago, have grown into a small but lovely community with really good energy. And with that great energy have come new people with interest in committing to the growth of tap in Madrid – and it is all taking new and exciting direction!
The months that are usually dedicated to MAD TAP Planning – gave me time to choreograph, travel to share my choreography as well as perform and teach and learn at Lindy, Tap and Jazz festivals. Above all I’ve been able to gain more knowledge to share here at home with my students and the MAD TAP Community.
WORKSHOPS, GUESTS & COMMUNITY
Though there are many styles, beliefs and techniques regarding Tap Dance (I mean the only step we all agree on is a shuffle!), I believe it is first and fore most important to appreciate each others love for the art. Inclusion is an important element of MAD TAP Activities - because that is how an art grows - in a healty way. In addition to being a meeting point for artists, musicians and fans of this art and it's culture through activities or social networks where they can always find eachother and share their love of rhythm.
MAD TAP also has the objective of broadening opportunities for said artists offering them artistc growth and knowledge through the difussion and organizations of performances, workshops, Discussions and History sessions and of course special guests such as: Ludovico Hombravella (BCN/Mexico), Roxane Butterfly (NYC), Tanya & Travis Knights (Canada), Rubén Sanchez (BCN), Thanos Daskalopoulos (Greece), Jessie Sawyers (Seattle), Avalon Rathgeb (UK), Ulrike Neth (Germany), Jussi Lindroos (Finland), Basilio Gonzalez (BCN), Aitor Montessinos (BCN), Iván Bouchain (BCN), M. Gabriela Estrada (Mexico), Tony Escartín (Madrid), Kelly isaac (Washington D.C.), Jason Rogers (Los Angeles).....