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2006 Flo-bert Awards

Gene Gavin - Curtain Up

Musings by Marianne

DO40's Jerry Ames and
Jo Rowan Honored
with the 2006 Flo-Bert Award

That Very Dapper Tapper, Mr. Ames

DO40 members Jo Rowan and Jerry Ames were honored with the 2006 Flo-Bert Award at the Tap Extravaganza held at the Fashion Institute of Technology last year.

The Flo-Bert Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Tap Artistry recognize those who have advanced the artistry of tap through performance, teaching and choreography. Previous winners include such luminaries as Paul Draper, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller, Phil Black, Gregory Hines and Savion Glover.

A film of Jerry’s choreography was shown, and then Cheryl Johnson danced Ames’ “Baroque Tapestry” to Bach’s Italian Concerto accompanied by Rolf Barnes on the piano. Vasily Myshletsov, a Russian tap dancer that Jerry discovered in Moscow in 1993, also danced a tribute.


Jo Rowan is director and founder of the American Spirit Dance Company, a nationally known master ballet teacher and performer and is Professor of Dance and Chairman of the Dance Department within Oklahoma City University’s Ann Lacy School of American Dance. In 2001 she won the first “Tap Preservationist” Award at the St. Louis Tap Festival to honor her significant contribution to revitalizing American tap dance by establishing the first degree program in an institution of higher education based on the American dance styles of tap, jazz and theater dance.

Congratulations to two wonderfully talented people!!.

Curtain Up! Light the Lights!

by Gene Gavin

Before I ever auditioned for the choreographer who is the subject of this little tome, I had met him socially several times. Each time I met him he was gratuitously complimentary. “I admire your work,” “you’re such a good dancer,” etc., and so, when the time came that I needed a job and he was having an audition, I figured I had a good chance of landing a job with him.

The audition started out well with his assistant teaching a combination and then in groups of three or five we all did the steps. When we finished, the choreographer called my name and asked me to do the combination by myself and proceeded to tell the rest of the dancers that he wanted them to do the combination as I did it. And then he hired someone who did it (I guess) like I did it. Just not me.

More socializing, more gratuitous compliments and one day the opportunity came to audition for him again. The same procedure. Everyone learned a combination, everyone did the combination, I was called forward to do the combination alone and again he asked everyone to do it as I did - and then he hired someone else. So, if when I approach those "Pearly Gates," I see Saint Peter, I'm turning around and telling him - I think you want someone like me, but not me..!

St. Pete...auditioning...


Musings by Marianne

Clean, But at What Cost?
by Marianne Selbert

Hello, my dear fellow mature gypsy friends. Something has been bothering me for quite a while now, and I’d like to throw it out there for discussion.

Let me preface my comments by saying that I think today’s young theatre dancer is technically extraordinary. They knock my socks off! My God, these kids are so strong, they can do stuff I couldn’t even dream of doing! And that’s as it should be – in art, in science, in sport, in whatever – each generation should evolve beyond the one before it.

Now, here comes the big BUT… I think something has been sacrificed for the sake of cleanliness and strength. Movement seems to have lost its flow. We were taught that you never stopped moving – you filled the phrase and arrived just in time to move on to the next one. But what I see now is so rigid, harsh and robotic. It is clean, clean, CLEAN – but where is its life, its breath, its soul?

And the dancers themselves seem to crave this style (or lack thereof…). When I’ve choreographed, they want to know where every eyelash is at every moment. I don’t get any individuality or exploration of what a movement WANTS to be or where it WANTS to go. It’s all locked in before it’s given a chance to express itself. And the thing that baffles me is that these kids are SO good, they could easily do it all. So, is it a self-imposed trend or are the choreographers demanding it of them?

Also, I certainly acknowledge the usefulness of numbers along the edge of the stage for spacing purposes; but, when a dancer is told they’re on Number 2, I’ve actually been asked if it’s their left foot or their right foot! And then the next question: does this movement take them 3 feet to the left or 4 feet? My God, if they’re so riveted to the numbers, how can they be dancing? Can’t we just dance and see what happens? Didn’t we feel the space around us? Weren’t you able to place yourself between the body on your left and the body on your right? Am I imagining things?

Well, I guess I’ve done some venting, haven’t I? So, dear friends, what do you think? Have you had the same experiences and perceptions as me, or am I just an old dinosaur who should go back to puttering happily in her garden? I’d love to hear what everyone thinks, either as an open forum on the DO40 discussion board, or to my email, if you’d rather:

Much love and Happy Holidays!


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