By Deborah Searle.
You may recognize Gregg Russell and Ryan Lohoff from Live to Dance as the tapping duo ‘Tap Sounds Underground’. However, in the tap dance world they are already well respected artists, travelling across America and the globe performing and teaching tap dance whenever and wherever they can.
You are both such successful tap dancers already. What made you want to go on Live to Dance?
We wanted to go on Live to Dance because we wanted to represent tap in a new light and get it the exposure it deserves. Your typical stereotype of tap is that it is only Hoofing, Broadway, or Swing. We like to infuse the styles of legendary tappers like Gregory Hines, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and the Nicholas Brothers (just to name a few), with the upbeat music and hip hop style of today’s younger generation. By mixing these styles together, we can pay tribute to the old school as well as excite the younger generation about tap again. It’s a struggle out there to keep kids these days interested in tap. We believe it’s our job, better yet our privilege, to pass along the art form and expand it in as many ways as possible.
How far did you think you would go?
We feel honored just to have made it as far as we have and for tap dancing to be given the opportunity for this kind of exposure. There aren’t very many venues for tap these days, like there used to be. Most shows only pay respect to the “popular” forms of dance and tap gets left behind. Thanks to Paula and her show, we have the opportunity to share what we love to do.
Why should we vote for tap?
People should vote for tap because it is not only a traditional dance art form, but it is also a representation of how dance is never ending and continues to evolve into something new. Through past experiences we’ve worked with artists in other genres of dance that create moves or sequences of steps inspired by tap rhythms. This goes to show how the dance community is ready to be inspired by something unique and new. We also believe that you’ve already seen hip hop, contemporary, jazz, and numerous other genres of dance on television. It would be nice to continue to see tap represented and for it to make an appearance in the spotlight again like it once was back in the day.
How do you keep your tap fresh and exciting?
We keep our tap choreography fresh and exciting by experimenting and implementing all styles of dance and all genres of music. Most of the time, a tapper would consider himself/herself a musician that creates music. We like to consider ourselves more of an accompanist to the music. By doing so, we are able to not only match the rhythms or lyrics of a piece of music, but also add layers on top of it. Then by adding more of a hip hop style or even a lyrical style of dance quality to the tap, we are able to create something that’s always new and exciting. This is how we continue to evolve tap dancing as the different genres of dance evolve around us.
Where will we see you both next?
Gregg will be traveling abroad to Australia for Global Dance Convention (www.globaldance.com.au) and Ryan will be pushing his new line of professional taps called ProTones (www.Pro-Tones.com) created by his company Neo Rythmo Inc. They are the first ever professional grade black colored taps! Both of us, however, will be tapping with our fellow colleague Angela Carter and teaching across the country on our second annual tour of Tap Into The Network, an advanced tap intensive for all aspiring tap dancers (www.TapIntoTheNetwork.com).
Good luck guys!
Check out Gregg and Ryan in action: