Tapology Concert Performance

7:00 pm Sunday, October 27th at The Whiting

2019 Melba Ayco

Ms. Melba Ayco, founder and Artistic Director of Northwest Tap Connection, is a Gullah-Geechee and Creole Storyteller, Tap Dance Historian, and Choreographer. Born in a small town on the north shores of New Orleans, she describes her life as a three-part harmony: born into segregation, survived integration, and enlightenment through cultural diversity. 

NWTC imbues dance lessons with broader messages about self-esteem, respect and dissent — lessons that take on new life in the studio’s performances. For example, NWTC instructor Shakiah Danielson choreographed a number in response to police violence against AfricanAmericans set to Janelle Monáe’s Hell You Talmbout. The piece, performed by students, won the Audience Award at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, the world’s largest youth film festival. 

“It’s a conversation about how police fit into our community,” says Ayco of the performance. Her three decades at Seattle Police Department (she retired as a supervisor for the Records Division in 2017) taught her just how vital such conversations are to our community. 

“My work is to help children define themselves as socially conscious young people, with a vision of building tomorrow,” Ayco says. “We don’t want to raise another generation on senseless acts of violence.” Her life commitment is to define and share the African American experience through the performing arts. 

Ms. Melba is the creator of African American Odyssey, a touring performance inclusive of spoken word, dance, and music that expresses the history and struggles of African Americans from a place of pride. Her new work, Odyssey, explores the common threads of culture, inclusive of dance, music, food, art, and traditions of African Americans and people of African Diaspora. Odyssey is a work-in-progress and the inspiration for creativity in the realms of dance, spoken word and storytelling. Odyssey 1 was presented at Seattle Theater Group’s 2015 production Dance This – the Brazilian Connection. 

Through her dedication to the community and offering opportunities for growth and enlightenment for people of all ages and backgrounds, Ms. Melba has made a lasting, positive imprint on the greater Seattle area. To this end, she has received numerous accolades including the 2009 Mayor’s Art Award, the 2017 African Town Queen Award, and the 2017 Martin Luther King Medal of Community Service Award for District No. 2 of the City of Seattle.

  • Ms. Melba Ayco, founder and Artistic Director of Northwest Tap Connection, is a Gullah-Geechee and Creole Storyteller, Tap Dance Historian, and Choreographer. Born in a small town on the north shores of New Orleans, she describes her life as a three-part harmony: born into segregation, survived integration, and enlightenment through
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  • Mercedes Ellington, Broadway and television tap dancer, choreographer, director, and producer who has preserved and extended the musical legacy of her grandfather, Duke Ellington, and who has been hailed as "one of the brightest dancing stars this universe has ever known," was born to Ruth Silas and musician and bandleader
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  •   “The McFadden Brothers” are world-class entertainers whose career spans across many countries and venues. Their unique style and abilities have earned them the label as being a “triple threat,” in that they are both accomplished singers, tap dancers and musicians.  Their show encompasses their own unique style of entertainment
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  • At age 14, Wheeler met Maceo Anderson of "The Four Step Brothers". In short order young Ivery become a hoofer performing in Anderson's groups, "Four Steps and a Miss" and later "The Third Generation Steps". Wheeler has credits in monumental hit "The Cotton Club" and Broadway & Paris performances of
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  • Actor-Director-Filmmaker is a native of New Orleans who continues to cross-over varied artistic mediums, whether serving as the Co-Producer/Director/Writer on the award-winning short film "Tap Rap," starring Savion Glover, to starring on Broadway in the award-winning Cy Coleman musical "The Life," which garnered him an Outer Critics Circle nomination, as
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  • Professor Allen is currently Director of the Jazz Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology. Geri Allen, pianist/composer, bandleader, educator and Guggenheim Fellow, is the first recipient of the Soul Train, Lady of Soul Award for Jazz. In 2011 Geri Allen, was
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  • A unique Dancer, composer, comedian, actor, choreographer, stuntman, and bandleader who combines his talents to create surprising performances. He has been teaching at the Alvin Ailey dance school and lecturing at the renowned Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., among others. Chester Whitmore has his own well-reputed dance company, Black Ballet
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  • Celebrates 18 years as Founder and Artistic Director of New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble. This St. Louis, MO native is known throughout the New York area as a distinguished tap professional. She is the protégé of Leslie "Bubba" Gaines of the Copasetics and student of many tap masters including Broadway
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  • David Gilmore's recent performance credits include appearances in the American Festival of the Feet at Duke University and Tap Extravaganza in New York. A native of Charleston, S.C., he grew up immersed in the melodious soulful sounds of the South, finding his musical outlet in his hometown high school marching
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  • Tina Pratt is an extraordinary tap, ballet and modern dancer, producer, writer and lecturer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   Her performing experience is quite extensive, having performed with a number of fine entertainers, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Nancy Wilson, Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx, Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Frank Fontaine and Shecky
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  •   Germaine Ingram of Philadelphia. Festival Honoree – Performer, Documentarian, Attorney and was Asst Superintendent for Philadelphia Schools. Ms. Ingram has taught tap in workshops in the U.S. and Europe and to dance and theater majors at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. She has choreographed for musical theater, as well as
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  • “As a kid in the late 1920s in Hell’s Kitchen,” Harold Cromer recalls, “my twin sister and I used to go to the Chelsea Theatre on 8th Ave. where I saw the great Bill Robinson tap dancing. As kids, we were all playing hockey out in the street on roller
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  • Dancer, singer, actor, mentor, legend. These are just a few of the titles that can be associated with the 2007 Tapology Tap Dance Festival Honoree. Having traveled the world from Cairo, to London, to Switzerland, even hosting his own variety show in Australia, Arthur Duncan is much more than a
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