Renowned tap dancer Tony Waag visits Wildfire

By Surveyor Staff

Renowned tap dancer Tony Waag taught a class at Wildfire Art Center.  Submitted photo

Renowned tap dancer Tony Waag teaches a class at Wildfire Art Center.
Submitted photo

What does Wildfire Community Arts Center in Berthoud have in common with Tony Waag (pronounced Vaag), internationally-famous tap dancer and artistic/executive director of the American Tap Dance Foundation in New York City? The serendipitous link is Sally Nibbelink, director of dance programs for Wildfire (ATDF), a Berthoud resident and tap evangelical.

In the summer of 2015, Nibbelink heard Waag would be teaching at the Snowy Range Dance Festival at the University of Wyoming and drove to Laramie to take a class from him. She met him years ago and had taken a couple of classes when the Ft. Collins native was in the area visiting his parents. She mentioned Wildfire and Barbara Duffy, another New York tap icon who has taught master classes here, and discovered that Waag was already familiar with the tap program and would be returning to Colorado this month to celebrate his dad’s 90th birthday. The conversation led to an exciting event for the Colorado tap dance community.

On the evening of Oct. 15, 2015, Waag taught two master classes at Wildfire. Wildfire’s dance floor is regarded as one of the best floors for tapping in the region, due to its construction as a sprung floor which makes it kind to knees and very acoustically active. The two full classes were attended by dancers from Berthoud, but also some who drove for several hours.

Waag, like Nibbelink, is a tap promoter. He co-founded the ATDF in 1986 in New York City, and then in 2001, after doing a world dance tour which included Estonia, he came back to the U.S. and realized there wasn’t much going on to develop the art form in its country of origin. So he went to some of his tap friends, like Gregory Hines, one of the stellar names in tap, and started a program called Tap City. Tap City is a week-long program that occurs annually in New York City and provides performances and education about this singularly American art form.

The bad news is that Waag had to go back to New York; the good news is that Berthoud resident tap evangelical is right here at Wildfire. Nibbelink teaches classes at Wildfire, along with several other local tappers, and the classes start with the basics and progress from there. The classes are ongoing; dancers join in at whatever level they are. The classes are $70 for an eight-punch card. Get the details at Wildfirearts.org.

For more information contact Elizabeth Kearney at elkesq@msn.com3 by phone at 303-525-4340.