Keaton Dear 15 ~ Rhythmic Souls Tap Scholarship
Keaton is a multi-disciplined dancer and performer with an extended background in ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, and rhythm tap at Third Coast Dance Center and Earle Cobb Dance Studio. She began her dancing career at the age of three, having the privilege to study with enthusiastic and inspirational instructors and professionals from across the country. Most notably are her tap studies under Barbara Phillips as a member of RPM Youth Tap Ensemble.
Keaton, along with other RPM members, performed in Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “JUBA! Spotlight on Canada” in the summer of 2011. With her ensemble members, she performed Michelle Dorrance’s “Extraordinary Machine” in the same show as dancers including Lisa La Touche, Heather Cornell, Travis Knights, and many more. She has also performed at Soul to Sole Tap Festival Showcase and Third Coast Rhythm Project Festival.
Keaton has been studying under Barbara Phillips for six years, who originally introduced her to and helped evolve her passion for rhythm tap. She has had the opportunity to attend classes with tap masters including “Lady Di” Dianne Walker, Sam Weber, Heather Cornell, Acia Gray, Lane Alexander, Michelle Dorrance, Derick Grant, Jason Samuels-Smith, and many more.
Keaton is applying for a tap scholarship so that she will have the opportunity to attend Chicago Human Rhythm Project in Chicago, Illinois. This will allow her to further her knowledge of the history, vocabulary, and musicality of tap dance.
In addition to her dancing, Keaton currently attends Health Careers High School where she is an honor roll student and a member of HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) where she is able to continue her love of education and helping others through volunteer work. Keaton looks forward to expanding her dance horizon, passing on the tradition of tap dance, and hopes to be able to pursue Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Young Arts Dance Conference in the future.
When I woke up the first morning of my second year of YTEC in Chicago Human Rhythm Project, I was elated. All I wanted to do from the moment I awoke was tap dance. As soon as I walked into class the first day, I found myself smiling. I was smiling because I was surrounded by what I love to do, tap dance.
YTEC is a five day program that allows youth to take a technique and improvisation class, a seminar, and a two hour long choreography class each day. I found that every class I took through the program was enriching in its own way. I started each day, for five days, with a technique class, beginning my week with Bril Barrett followed by Yukiko Misumi, Sam Weber, Billy Siegenfield, and then ending my week with Derick Grant. Each artist’s dance style was different, allowing me to experience each so I could grow as a tap dancer. I was impressed with Derick Grant on how he pushed the group to take risks and make everything our own, so that we could develop our own dance style.
Each day after technique, I enjoyed an improvisation class with Bril Barrett. In this class, I learned different skills in order to become comfortable and skilled with improvisation. Throughout the week, the group experienced how to work with different time signatures, traveling, higher level tricks, and space while dancing. After learning each lesson, we applied what was given to us and saw that every person had developed their improvisation skills further.
Following improvisation, each YTEC group was indulged to a seminar so the dancers could experience something new. My seminars were Tai Chi, Bollywood, learning about tap dancing history with Dianne “Lady Di” Walker, Beat Boxing, and Footwork with FootworKINGz. I enjoyed these seminars because most of them took me out of my comfort zone and made me try something new.
I ended my days with choreography, learning piece three of a three part suite Michelle Dorrance had been teaching to one YTEC group for the past three years. This year the dance was taught by Nicholas Young and Elizabeth Burke, both featured dancers in Michelle Dorrance’s ensemble, Dorrance Dance. I enjoy Dorrance’s choreography because it is different from many other styles which allow her pieces to always feel refreshing.
This year, I was also privileged to perform Michelle Dorrance’s “Extraordinary Machine” for the second time on CHRP’s stage as a part of previewing Dorrance’s three part suite in “JUBA! Masters of American Tap” as a work in progress. Along with this great honor, I also had the opportunity to audition to be in the cast of the official premiere of Dorrance’s suite performed by youth in the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in December 2012.
Thanks to the Rhythmic Souls Tap Scholarship, I was able to experience a wonderful five day program of tap, see old friends and make new friends from around the country and Japan, and have the ability to experience several wonderful opportunities. I would definitely recommend this scholarship to another student, because it allows for passionate young dancers to further their knowledge and skill in tap dance so that they can grow as rising dancers. I cordially thank you for the opportunities this scholarship has given me.