Heather Cornell, “one of the world’s most innovative and creative tap artists”, is known for her deeply musical approach to the art form of tap dance. An intuitive musician known for her impeccable time and emotional phrasing, Heather’s recent endeavors have been in creating music ensembles where she functions as the percussionist. Her newest show, “Making Music Dance” is a cross fusion of Flamenco, the many flavors of tap and world music and will be premiered at Jazz en Rafele in Montreal this March. Her show “Finding Synesthesia”, with pianist Andy Milne, cellist David Eggar and Morrocan jazz vocalist Malika Zarra, was commissioned by London’s prestigious Southbank Center and premiered at the London Jazz Festival in 2007. Ms. Cornell co-created (with Thanos Daskalopoulos) a music/percussion summit in Lefkada, Greece, now in it’s 7th season, where her concepts of training free thinking “bilingual” artists in music and dance are put into action. Her project, “CanTap”, brings together Canada’s finest tap dancers and musicians to create evenings of choreography and improvisation. They have performed at the Vancouver International Tap Festival, Boston’s Regency Theater, Tap Ahead in Dusseldorf, Germany and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Ms. Cornell is artistic director and choreographer for the acclaimed Manhattan Tap, one of the busiest music/dance companies in the world in the 80’s and 90’s. Through this company Ms. Cornell became known as one of the mover’s and shaker’s of the tap dance renaissance and was credited for creating a style of choreography dubbed as “visual music” by the NY Times.
Ms. Cornell has directed, taught and inspired three generations of tap dancers. Called “the Oscar Peterson of hoofing” (Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada), she was apprentice to six of America’s tap masters, and performed frequently with Buster Brown, Eddie Brown, Harriet Browne, Cookie Cook, Steve Condos and Chuck Green. Ms. Cornell is one of a handful of dancers who trained directly with this generation and continues to teach dances and technique passed to her from these mentors.
Known for her innovative collaborations on original music for tap, Ms. Cornell was the only tap dancer chosen and mentored by the infamous bassist, Ray Brown. She and Mr. Brown collaborated on creating “Gumbo Hump” and “Ray’s Tap Suite”, written expressly for Ms. Cornell’s choreography. She is one of the pioneers of concert tap and in working with world music. She choreographed the NY production of “The Play What I Wrote” for Broadway and trained the actors and helped to create the movement for “Three Penny Opera” for Atalaya Theater Company in Sevilla, Spain. She tours internationally performing, teaching and mentoring. She teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and is an annual Master Teacher at Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada.
Ms. Cornell’s TV and radio credits include “KQED special w. Honi Coles and the Jazz Tap Ensemble; “Gregory Hines’ Tap Dance in America” for PBS; Canadian jazz series “Sounds Impressive” and WYNC’s live radio show, “Around New York” for 5 consecutive seasons.
She has received funding from the Canada Council, the NEA, NYSCA, DCA of NYC, Meet the Composer’s and numerous foundations. Awards: “Legend of Tap” (2008) from the WestCoast Tap Dance Collective, Vancouver, Canada, for her contribution to and leadership of the Canadian tap dance scene; Tapestry Award (2010) Boston, MA, for her choreography and teaching excellence; JUBA! Award (2011), Chicago Human Rhythm Project, for her leadership of the international tap community; and Flobert, (2012) NYC Committee for National Tap Day, for her excellence in mentoring, choreographing and performing.
For more information: www.manhattantap.org