IN CONVERSATION WITH DERICK GRANT
By L.J. Sunshine
Nov 2011 Brookyn Rail
The award-winning tap dancer Derick Grant, 38, is a veteran of Broadway and international stages. He’s also among today’s tap vanguard—improvising, choreographing, producing, and sharing his expertise with beginner and professional students alike. Fresh from teaching and performing in Berlin, Grant spoke with L.J. Sunshine about his life and work.
L.J. Sunshine (Rail): You started dancing when you were two years old and soon began performing. Do you remember that at all?
Derick Grant: I remember the little tuxedo short pants and the jacket and the afro squished by the top hat. Just a whole lotta cuteness. Otherwise, most of my early childhood memories have more to do with family functions than they do with recitals. I remember barbecues and family gatherings where the music would be cranking and the cousins would take a turn and my grandmother would do her thing with her sisters and then the kids would get up and do their thing.
But dancing was also the family business. My grandmother helped my aunt run the studio, Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts. I can remember being on studio floors as a child while company rehearsals were going on: constantly watching rehearsals, hearing the same music over and over and learning that way before it was my turn to dance. By the time I was in class, it was already pretty natural because I had spent so much time around the dancers. Then, when I was about eight, my mom moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career. I spent the school years in Boston with my grandparents and at my aunt’s studio, studying with Dianne Walker. In the summers, I was in California with my mom and at Universal Dance Designs, the studio of her childhood friends, Arlene and Paul Kennedy. So I was dancing all the time. That was their way of keeping me busy. After school I would go straight to the studio.
Derick Grant. Photo credit: Nathan Kirkpatrick