The Tap Doctors

Legends of Tap

Oklahoma City University

Saturday, February 23, 2002

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From the OCU web site:

Bunny Briggs appeared in Black and Blue as well as many other shows, clubs and circuits. He is highly respected by other tap dancers and appeared as the soloist in Black and Blue.
Buster Brown, a member of the Copasetics, is keeping tap alive each Sunday Evening at a New York night club, Swing 46, where he hosts and gives many dancers an opportunity to perform.
Cholly Atkins, partner of Honi Coles, of the team Coles and Atkins, developed the art of vocal choreography and did Motown choreography. He also won a Tony for his work in Black and Blue. Class Act is a new book on his life.
Fayard Nicholas, of the Nicholas Brothers, leaves a collection of dance movies that still hold up as the best tap dancing of the century. He is a Tony Award® winner for Black and Blue.
Henry LeTang is the choreographer of the movies Tap and Cotton Club. Broadway shows for which he has choreographed include Sophisticated Ladies, Black and Blue, Eubie and others. He is a Tony Award® Winner for Black and Blue and considered the best Broadway tap choreographer.
Jeni LeGon is the first female black tap dancer to have been given a contract with a major Hollywood studio. She has made many films and danced with Bill Bojangles Robinson. She continues to teach and is the subject of a documentary filmed in Canada. She had a performance and film career in Europe in addition to her US performing career.
Jimmy Slyde continues a performing career and is known as a musical tap dancer. He enjoyed a career in Europe and toured with all the major big bands.
Leonard Reed represents Vaudeville, having been a performer and producer (even produced the shows for Joe Lewis, the boxer) in addition to the Apollo and Cotton Club. He is probably the best living authority on the Vaudeville circuits, theatre and nightclub shows from the past.
Prince Spencer was a member of the Four Step Brothers for 29 years. The Four Step Brothers pioneered many tap innovations including "the challenge." They made movies and danced with the Duke Ellington band for many years at the Cotton Club.

Living Legends in American Dance Honored at Oklahoma City University

Oklahoma City University makes history this month as its School of American Dance and Arts Management and the Robert L. Reed Tap Heritage Institute pay tribute to nine world-famous African-American tap dancers by conferring upon them the honorary degree Doctor of Performing Arts in American dance.

The tap performers being honored are Tony Award® winner and Motown choreographer Cholly Atkins; Bunny Briggs, creator of the "paddle and roll" style; James "Buster" Brown, a member of the Copasetics Club; James T. "Jimmy Slyde" Godbolt; Jeni LeGon, film star and protégé of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson; Tony Award® winner Henry LeTang; Tony Award® winner Fayard Nicholas, of The Nicholas Brothers; Leonard Reed, considered the foremost living authority on Vaudeville; and Prince Spencer, of The Four Step Brothers.

"These nine great dancers have made significant contributions to American dance and culture," said John Bedford, dean of Oklahoma City University's School of American Dance and Arts Management. "We are honored to recognize and celebrate their careers, which have entertained and inspired millions of people throughout the world."

The nine will receive their honorary degrees during a sold-out gala celebration at Oklahoma City University Feb. 22 and 23. Numerous dance dignitaries will be attending and performing at the event, which is planned for February in order to be part of National Black History Month and is also an official event of National Dance Week 2002 celebrations.

Tribute performers include Ulrike Dinger, Robert L. Reed, Michela Lerman, Margaret Morrison and Tony Waag, Avi Miller and Offer Ben, Nicole Hockenberry and others. Gregory Hines is sending a congratulatory speech to be read, and a video message from Ben Vereen will be shown.


Friday, February 22  
9:00-9:50 Tap Master class --Ulrike Singer
For Tap B dancers, others may observe Dance Studio D, Children's Center for the Arts
3:30-5:00 Moving History of Tap, by Tap Columnist Melba Huber with Robert L. Reed dancing - Scarab Room in Student/Faculty Center
5:00-6:00 Reception hosted by Black Student Association and Students of Arts Management - Goldbug Lounge in Student/Faculty Center
Saturday, February 23  
5:00-6:00 Reception - Goldbug Lounge in Student Faculty Center
6:00-9:00 Honorary Doctorate Banquet - SOLD OUT
  • Dinner
  • Honorary Degree Conferral
  • Tribute Performances
    - Michela Lerman (New York Tap Festival)
    - Margaret Morrison & Tony Waag (American Tap Orchestra)
    - Avi Miller & Ofer Ben (The Israeli Hoofers)
    - Nicole Hockenberry (Manhatten Tap)
    - Robert L. Reed, Rob Reed, & Robyn Reed as The Six Feet of Rhythm
    - St. Louis Hoofers Club
    - Dianne Walker (Lady Di from Boston)
    - Others
  • Living Treasure in American Dance Awards
  • Afterwards - Tap Jam (tap dancers bring your shoes and join in)

All events are free and open to the public except for the Honorary Doctorate Banquet.

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School of America Dance and Arts Management

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