TECHNIQUE: MICHELLE DORRANCE

 

Dance Teacher Now, May 2012

 

 

During her technique class at Broadway Dance Center, Michelle Dorrance jokingly asks students to imagine going to a morgue, cutting off a dead guy's foot and attaching it to their own ankles. She winces and laughs at this gruesome image—but it works. The group's “nerve-taps” (fast, continuous beats in one position) improve; the sounds from their relaxed feet are clearer and even.

Dorrance's class is jam-packed in the studio, and the students—a handful who are tap teachers—hang on her every word and demonstration. Although she's worked with huge names in tap (Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown, Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino and Savion Glover, for starters), she doesn't draw attention to her accolades or show off. Mixing humor with a down-to-business attitude, the 32-year-old tapper extraordinaire tells it like she sees it. She's still performing and building her own creative voice, so she's able to give her students practical tips and help them tackle steps she sometimes struggles with herself.