M.A.D.D. Rhythms presents the MADD Virtual Tap Experience
M.A.D.D. Rhythms is proud to present the MADD Virtual Tap Experience on May 24 and 25 in celebration of International Tap Dance Day and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday. What was originally going to be an in-person event will now be available to stream from home. The event will include a day of online workshop classes, a virtual tap jam, and a screening of the movie Bojangles with a Q&A talkback.
Each year, many performances and events are hosted on Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday, coined as National Tap Dance Day. The goal of the MADD Virtual Tap Experience is to unite an online community to continue this tradition and celebrate the rich culture of tap dance without having to physically gather. Those interested in partaking in one or both days of the MADD Virtual Tap Experience can register at www.maddrhythms.com.
The first day of the event is for those interested in taking online master classes with M.A.D.D. Rhythms company members. Beginner, intermediate and advanced workshop classes will be taught by Bril Barrett, Star Dixon, Donnetta Jackson, Tristan Bruns, Alexandrya Fryson, Time Brickey, KJ Sheldon and Carmen Paquette. On top of several tap classes, registrants can also expect to watch historic tap footage during their lunch break and finish their day by kicking off the tap shoes for a Chicago Footwork class with Donnetta “Lil Bit” Jackson. We will also feature a workshop from Tap For Tots, a new venture M.A.D.D. Rhythms own Starinah Dixon, geared to get your little ones excited about rhythm.
Day two of the MADD Virtual Tap Experience begins with a chance for dancers to show off their skills in a tap jam. Each dancer is given three minutes to dance to a song of their choice over a Zoom video call. Entry is also available to those who wish to only observe the tap jam. Following the tap jam will be a screening of the movie Bojangles with talkback and Q&A.
Although a variety of performances and events for M.A.D.D. Rhythms have been canceled due to COVID-19, the newly conceived MADD Virtual Tap Experience is projected to attract a global audience, attributed to the company’s international following. Online programming also allows for lower prices: $50 for day one, $20 for day two or $60 for both days.
MADD Virtual Tap Experience Faculty
Bril Barrett is the founder of M.A.D.D. (Making A Difference Dancing) Rhythms, director of The Chicago Tap Summit and founder of The M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy. His Performance opportunities include Riverdance, Tap Dance Kid, Derrick Grant, Aaron Tolson’s Imagine Tap, The Kennedy Center, Jumaane Taylor’s Supreme Love, the Democratic National Convention and many others. Television appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Steve Harvey Show, Jenny Jones Show, NBC’s Someone You Should know and ABC’s Windy City Live. Bril has taught and/or performed in Prague, Canada, Germany, Finland, Turkey, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Albania, Amsterdam, Brazil, the Bahamas, the U.K. and across the United States. He was named A Chicagoan of the Year and has his very own Ted Talk.
Starinah “Star” Dixon is an assistant director, choreographer, and original principal dancer of world renowned tap company, M.A.D.D. Rhythms. She has taught and performed at the most distinguished tap festivals in the country including The L.A. Tap Fest, DC Tap Fest, RIFF Dallas, Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World, and MADD Rhythms own Chicago Tap Summit. She’s performed internationally in Poland, Japan, and Brazil to name a few. Performance venues include Jacob’s Pillow, Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln Center. Outside of M.A.D.D. Rhythms, she’s performed as a guest with such companies as Michelle Dorrance’s Dorrance Dance and Savion Glover’s All Funk’d Up. Star is currently on staff at numerous dance studios in and around Chicago.
Donnetta “LilBit” Jackson is a dynamic and versatile dancer whose skill has brought her international acclaim. She was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, IL, where she began dancing at The Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre at the age of 7. At 11 years old, she became one of the original members of the prestigious M.A.D.D. Rhythms tap company and later joined the Chicago footwork group Creation Battle Clique/Creation Global, which led her to the internationally recognized dance ensemble the Chicago FootworKINGz, which resulted in her performing with them on season 6 of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Later she was a featured dancer for Grammy award winning artist Chance The Rapper’s “Sunday Candy” and “Angels” music videos, and is now one of his choreographers/dancers. She performed with him at the 2020 NBA All-Star game and also Rolling loud and Good Morning America to name a few. She was just recently on the MTV Video Music Awards performing with Missy Elliot during her Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award performance. Respect the dance!!
Tristan Bruns is a Chicago tap dancer who has received training under Donna Johnson, Ted Louis Levy, Sam Weber and Martin “Tre” Dumas III. Tristan has been a recurring faculty member of notable tap festivals – Circle City Tap Festival, Rhythm World and The Chicago Tap Summit. He is currently a member of M.A.D.D. Rhythms and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s resident ensemble, Stone Soup Rhythms, and has performed as a guest artist with other Chicago dance companies such as the Cartier Collective, Chicago Dance Crash and Matter Dance. Tristan is the Director of Tapman Productions and has produced four seasons of new works: The Adventures of Tapman in 2013 at the Athenaeum Theatre; La Raison d’Etre in 2013 at the Athenaeum Theatre; THRUST! In 2015 at Stage 773; What It’s Like To Be Human in 2018 at the Athenaeum Theatre and 2019 at Links Hall.
Since the age of 3 Alexandrya Fryson has been dancing and at the age of 6 she started dancing in the M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy, at age 10 she started apprenticing under the professional company, and since that time has done many performances/productions such as A tribute to former mayor Rahm Emmanuel at Pritzker Pavilion, Supreme Love choreographed by Jumaane Taylor, and Feeling Good: A M.A.D.D. Tribute to Nina Simone. She has also received scholarships to Tap festivals such as D.C. Tap Festival, Tap Kids, The Intensive, Hoofin’ Grounds, The Cleveland Tap Experience, and Tap Dance Festival UK. At age 13 she became a professional member of M.A.D.D. Rhythms and started assisting and teaching at the M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy.
Native of Colorado, KJ Sheldon grew up dancing under the direction of her late mentor, Prof. Robert Reed. At 18, she moved to Chicago to pursue a BFA in musical theater with an emphasis in dance. Throughout her years of studies, KJ started dancing with MADD Rhythms Tap Company and Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “Stone Soup Rhythms”. She graduated in May of 2019 and is now performing as a professional tap dancer in the city.
Time Brickey is a tap dancer, musician, and performing artist from Chicago. He is a company member of M.A.D.D. Rhythms, a collaborator with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and with Cabinet of Curiosity. Time has performed in Dance for Life Chicago, the Stomping Grounds Festival, JUBA!, and as a soloist at the Billy Strayhorn Centennial, where he was described by Chicago Tribune as “a Literal Loose Cannon.” He has been featured tap dancing on 91.1 Vocalo with DJ Ayana Contreras for Reclaimed Soul in The Parks, and in the premiere of Jared Grimes’ new 42nd st. revival. He’s grateful to have shared stages and rehearsal rooms with many of his own heroes.
Since moving to Chicago in 2014, Carmen Paquette has danced with Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Tapman Productions, and is currently a company member of Making A Difference Dancing (MADD) Rhythms. In 2015, Carmen co-founded the street-performance group “Broads on Boards” that has since built a platform of artists uplifting one another and their community through busking around Chicago. Performing her way across the U.S., Carmen has had the opportunity to step onstage at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City, the D.C. Tap Fest, the St. Louis Arts Festival, Oklahoma City University, and has even displayed her stage fighting skills with Rapier Wit in Toronto, Canada. She has taught at, M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, and Dance to Evolve. Alongside her dancing, she is studying Material Science and Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology. During summer 2019 she worked as a research fellow with The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying anti-ferromagnetism while simultaneously choreographing a tap dance piece interpreting the physics of magnetism for the university’s Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) initiative. She is currently working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in outreach programming to encourage students to explore their creative and scientific potential.
About M.A.D.D. Rhythms M.A.D.D. Rhythms is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, promote and contribute to the art of tap dance. We teach its history, represent its culture and advocate for its future. We strive to make a difference in the under- served communities of this world by connecting with and caring for its youth. Our programs emphasize the value of being an active force for good in the community, personal accountability, and good nutrition. Over the course of over 15 years, M.A.D.D. Rhythms has given hundreds of kids across the city of Chicago a safe space to learn and grow as dancers and people. We believe that having access to opportunity gives a child a greater chance at a positive life. Through our apprenticeship program, M.A.D.D. Rhythms has fostered the education of many of today’s most sought-after tap dancers, all committed to sharing culture, tradition, and love of The Dance.
M.A.D.D. Rhythms truly is MAKING A DIFFERENCE DANCING RHYTHMS.