hillary-marie

tap dance artist

official website

A VISION in rhythm...


"Hillary-Marie has feet like feathers with steel bones" 

One of the most accomplished tap dance artists and producers in America, Hillary-Marie is an internationally acclaimed soloist and ensemble member and at age 17 founded the Jersey Tap Fest, New Jersey's sole dance festival featuring world-class tap faculty and extravaganza. In addition to Jersey Tap Fest, she is also the artistic director of FutureSTEP Tap Company and Grooves Unlimited Dance Studio. Hillary-Marie's dancing has been described as 'like feathers with steel bones' due to her combination of strength and grace. She has also been called ‘a brilliant artist’. A native of New Jersey currently based in NYC, Hillary-Marie has been recognized by and featured in Dance Studio Life Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine and Dance Teacher Magazine. She has performed on The Colbert Report and has appeared at the Smithsonian, Apollo Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Highline Ballroom, The Copacabana, NJ STATE Theater, NJPAC, SOPAC, and Symphony Space among many other prestigious venues along the American east coast.

           

Hillary-Marie has given a TedXTalk about how she became a successful entrepreneur and artist and did the tap sounds for an episode of 30 Rock that featured character Jenna Maroney played by actress Jane Krakowski. She currently serves as guest faculty at Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre and has traveled the world as a featured soloist at the Tap Ahead Festival (Germany), The Krazy Tap (Taiwan), Cien Pasos un Ritmo (Guatemala), Anguilla Jazz Boat (Anguilla), Jimmy Slyde Institute and MadTap (Spain), House of Hoofing (Sweden), Paris Tap Crew (France), CCDanza (Honduras) and the Big Apple Tap Festival (NYC) among many others, and also performs weekly at Harlem's Cotton Club which - a key venue during the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s and 30s - as a part of Bessie-award winner Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards' group "Sophisticated Ladies". 


Writing about Soul Walk, Hillary-Marie's debut full length show, renowned dance critic Robert Johnson said: 'Some performers travel with their own atmosphere, a rosy bubble that floats off the stage and envelops the crowd allowing grateful viewers to forget where they are. 'Tap dancer Hillary-Marie and her accomplices do that.'


Hillary-Marie began her dance training at the age of five at her local dance studio in New Jersey. By the age of 12 she was appearing in 11 shows a week in the pre-professional company 'Showstopper's' at the Edward Nash Theater. Hillary's studies continued with Karen Callaway Williams, whose credits include Tony Award Nominated Duke Ellington musical PlayOn. In 2006 Hillary became a member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble's youth company and just three years later became principal dancer for the company under the direction of Deborah Mitchell. From 2007 until his death in 2013 Hillary-Marie was mentored by and assistant to the vaudeville legend Dr. Harold 'Stumpy' Cromer, half of the world-famous duet ‘Stump & Stumpy’, sharing bill with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

Hillary-Marie has worked with Emmy-award winning artist Jason Samuels Smith (A.C.G.I.) as well as Derick K. Grant (Rhythm Is Our Business). She has performed with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Before his death she performed with award-winning composer of A Chorus Line, Marvin Hamlisch, and has danced with Heather Cornell (Conversations), Maurice Chestnut (Above Ground Project), Christopher Scott (W-L-U-V), the Boston Tap Company (Rhythm in the Night), Nat Adderley Jr., and both the Princeton and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras.


Hillary-Marie feels that artists are the messengers of the world, and is humbled to have the opportunity to share her gift with audiences. She is thankful for the artists of the past and present who have provided and continue to provide abundant inspiration and encouragement, and she is focused on serving tap dance by uniting the tap community, teaching its history, preserving its percussive and improvisational style, expanding the respect for the art and promoting the dance as a cherished American art form. 

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special mentions


NOTABLE PERFORMANCES​s​​​

The Colbert Report

30 Rock

Estee Lauder

TedxTalks

Wycliffe Gordon, award-winning Trombonist

Marvin Hamlisch, award-winning Compoer

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Rhythm is Our Business, Director Derick K. Grant

Rhythm in the Night, Boston Tap Company

W-L-U-V, Director Christopher Scott

New Dance Alliance, director Roxane Butterfly

​​​​​​​Conversations, Heather Cornell

Gabriel Hermida, Argentinian Guitarist

Harlem Stage's E-Moves

Princeton Symphony Orchestra

New Jerey Symphony Orchestra

Sonnets on Tap, Awoye Timpo

A.C.G.I., Director Jason Samuels Smith

Sophisticated Ladies, Director Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards

The Above Ground Project, Director Maurice Chestnut

Tap Phonics, Director Lisa LaTouche

NJTAP Ensemble, Director Deborah Mitchell

FESTIVALS AND CONVENTIONS

Jersey Tap Fest (director since 2010)

​​​​​​​Rock City Tap Fest, Ohio (2016)

NADAA, Greater NY Chapter (2015, 2016)

New Dance Alliance, NYC (2016)

The Krazy Tap, Taiwan (2016)

Big Apple Tap Festival, NYC (2014, 2015)

MadTap, Spain (2015)

Paris Tap Crew, France (2015)

Jimmy Slyde Institute, Spain (2015)

House of Hoofing, Sweden (2015)

CTTap Collective (2014, 2015)

Centro De Danza, Honduras (2015)

Lindy Focus (2014)

Tap Ahead Festival, Germany (2014)

Cien Ritmos un Paso, Guatemala (2014)

Anguilla Jazz Boat, Anguilla (2013)

Philly Tap Challenge, Pennsylvania (2011, 2013)

Artist Statement


As a young artist in training, I was determined to become a jazz dancer and a drummer. So it’s only natural that I would combine vernacular movement and rhythm to become a tap dancer. Music and dance are the universal languages of the world and being able to participate in both simultaneously as a percussive dancer is powerful. By combining tap dance choreography and improvisation with live music collaboration, I strive to be a unique story teller. I truly feel that music and dance can connect with people in a way that our words can’t and when people see my work, I want an energy transference to occur. I want people to lose themselves, find resolve for their current frustrations, find the drive to follow their aspirations, find the joy they’re searching for and overall just find the missing component that they’re seeking in their day to day lives.


Every piece or full-length show I create is born from a personal experience turned into a wild dream that leads to a hardcore brainstorming session in my notepad. Writing out my thoughts helps me sort them and it also gives me the opportunity to revisit a previously brainstormed project that wasn’t ready for realization. From there, the work takes on a physical form. My conceptualized pieces hover around relatable topics of young love, heartbreak, unexplainable joy, loneliness, frustration and friendship. Other pieces focus on rhythmic concepts, grooves and introverted exploration.


My current work challenges the notion that tap dance is a dying, underground, indigestible art form. I’ve thrown aside the top hat, tuxedo and cane of vaudeville to bring to life my definition of the modern day tap dancer because I believe that rhythm is a universal language and tribal instinct that all of us understand. It’s an ambitious desire to embark on a musical dance odyssey, but I choose to approach tap dance as both a musical instrument and visual performance art to culminate in the ultimate form of storytelling. The results so far have been beautiful.