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In my world, everything is movement and music. Silence and stillness are rare moments because every sound is a song and every silence is nothing but a ghost note. I’m living in a rhythmic odyssey, a musical gateway that serves as an invitation to explore the human body as the original instrument of the world through Tap Dance improvisation and Body Percussion.
When asked to describe what I do, I say that I’m a Tap Dance Artist, a visual music maker who tells vivid stories through the universal languages of music dance.
The stories I share span from introspective exploration to explosive energetic release, each one seeded in reality then brought to life by imagination.
These adventures are performed by three characters that I step into.
One is inspired by my studies of Buddhism and Stoicism, with themes ranging from impermanence to meditation. Another is shaped by my upbringing as a native Jersey Girl with a colorful vocabulary, and a flair for speaking the hard truth. The third is a magician who pulls the entire audience into the act before they’ve realized it even happened, a bit of a trickster with a secret in her pocket who loves to make people laugh.
The fourth wall doesn’t exist in my work because I like to speak directly to the audience. We see, hear and feel each other, we acknowledge each other, and little do they know (until they do know) that they too are a part of this performance.
All of my work is performed with live music collaboration. Pianist, Bassist, Drummer, Ukulele Singer-Songwriter, Trombonist, Percussionist, Gumboots Dancer… the list of amazing collaborators that I’ve had the great joy to work with is long and I give thanks for having had the opportunity to make music with amazing artists who have opened my eyes, ears, and heart.
With performances ranging from a 10-minute set on the proscenium stage, to a 75-minute touring theatre show with a Jazz rhythm section, to a 2-hour folk music house-concert on the rooftop of the penthouse suite, I improvise and adapt.
Hillary-Marie is a Tap Dance Artist, a visual music maker who tells vivid stories through the universal languages of music dance. She is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed soloist and collaborator, and at age 17 founded Jersey Tap Fest, named the Best Place to See Live Dance Performances in New Jersey by New Jersey Stage. Hillary-Marie is the co-owner of Grooves Unlimited Dance Studio, established in 2012, and the only dance studio in the United States to be entirely dedicated to Hip-Hop and Tap Dance, home of FutureSTEP Tap Company, a pre-professional tap dance company for tap dancers ages 10-25. She is also the Founder of iTapOnline.com since 2016, an online Tap Dance School for adult tap dancers and tap teachers all around the world, also home to the iTap Teacher Certificate Program. She has served as Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University and guest faculty at Alvin Ailey and STEPS.
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’ and in 2017 received an Individual Artist Fellowship in Choreography from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, one of their most competitive awards. Additionally, Hillary-Marie was a Jersey (New) Moves Fellow at NJPAC from 2019-2022 and a two-time recipient of the Dance New Jersey Mini-Grant for 2021 and 2022.
A native of New Jersey, Hillary-Marie has been recognized by and featured in the New York Times, Star Ledger, Dance Studio Life Magazine, Dance Spirit Magazine and Dance Teacher Magazine. She has given a TedxTalk about her artist-entrepreneur experience and has traveled the world as a featured soloist at the Apollo Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Highline Ballroom, Copacabana, NJ State Theater, NJPAC, SOPAC, Symphony Space, Westobou Festival as well as Tap and Jazz festivals in Europe, Central America, South America, Asia and throughout the U.S. For many years, she performed weekly at Harlem’s Cotton Club as a part of Bessie-award winner Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards’ group “Sophisticated Ladies”, and previously 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 passing she performed with award-winning composer of A Chorus Line, Marvin Hamlisch, and has danced with Heather Cornell (Conversations), Roxane Butterfly (New Dance Alliance), Maurice Chestnut (Above Ground Project), Christopher Scott (W-L-U-V), Lisa LaTouche (Tap Phonics), the Boston Tap Company (Rhythm in the Night), the NJTAP Dance Ensemble, Nat Adderley Jr., and both the Princeton and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras.
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’. She has since premiered VIBE – a celebration of tap dance as a universal energy and language of the world; a show that Dance Metro DC says ‘serves as a springboard for locating tap dance within a concert dance context… serving to truly bring the house down.’ Hillary-Marie’s Sole Music Collective is also host to the #Herspective video series. Within Sole Music Collective, Hillary-Marie has collaborated with vocalists Emily Braden and Nancy Harmes, bassist Jennifer Vincent, pianists Mark G. Meadows and Willerm Delisfort, percussionist Vincent Smith, and singer-songwriter Ami Madeleine.
Hillary-Marie began her dance training with Jazz dance at the age of five at her local dance studio in New Jersey, and started studying tap dance at age twelve. By the age of fourteen, she was appearing in eleven shows a week in the pre-professional company ‘Showstoppers’ at the Edwards Nash Theatre. Her studies continued with Karen Callaway Williams, whose credits include Tony Award Nominated Duke Ellington musical Play On! In 2006, Hillary-Marie became a member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble’s youth company and just three years later became a 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 feels that artists are the messengers of the world and strives to increase public awareness and appreciation of tap dance as an instrument through the universal language of music. 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.
@hillarymarietap // www.Hillary-Marie.com
Awards / Residencies
Jersey (New) Moves Fellowship 2019-2022
Dance New Jersey Mini-Grant 2021/2022
2017 Individual Artist Fellowship - New Jersey State Council on the Arts
2017 COLAB Arts Choreography Residency
The Wycliffe Gordon, award-winning Trombonist
Jersey New Moves, NJPAC
Marvin Hamlisch, award-winning Composer
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Emily Braden, Soul Walk The Show
Nancy Harmes, Hallelujah
Jennifer Vincent, Habanera
Carolyn Dorfman Dance, Up Close & Personal
Rhythm is Our Business, Director Derick K. Grant
Rhythm in the Night, Boston Tap Company
W-L-U-V, Director Christopher Scott
Gabriel Hermida, Argentinian Guitarist
Conversations, Director Heather Cornell
New Dance Alliance, Director Roxane Butterfly
Harlem Stage’s E-Moves Jazzaponics
JC Hopkins Biggish Band
Nat Adderley Jr, award-winning Pianist
Princeton Symphony Orchestra
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Sonnets on Tap, Director Awoye Timpo
JAM Project, DC (2017, 2018, 2020)
Brazil International Tap Festival (2019)
Rock City Tap Fest, Ohio (2016, 2018)
Paris Tap Crew, France (2015, 2018)
Escola Luthier de Dansa, Spain (2018)
Old Kent Road, UK (2018)
Claque Tap Studio, Spain (2018)
Lindy Focus, North Carolina (2014, 2016-2017)
Big Apple Tap Festival, NYC (2014-2015, 2017)
Westobou Festival (2017)
CTTap Collective (2014-2017)
Dance On The Lawn (2017)
Resonance Tap Convention (2017)
NADAA, Greater NY Chapter (2015-2017)
Jersey Tap Fest, New Jersey (director since 2010)
BOGOTap, Colombia (2017)
NJHS Dance Festival (2017)
New Dance Alliance, NYC (2016)
The Krazy Tap, Taiwan (2016)
MadTap, Spain (2015)
Jimmy Slyde Institute, Spain (2015)
House of Hoofing, Sweden (2015)
Centro De Danza, Honduras (2015)
Tap Ahead Festival, Germany (2014)
Cien Ritmos un Paso, Guatemala (2014)
Anguilla Jazz Boat, Anguilla (2013)
Philly Tap Challenge, Pennsylvania (2011, 2013)
Hillary-Marie's Sole Music Collective (Director since 2015)
FutureSTEP Tap Company (Director since 2016)
Grooves Unlimited Dance Studio (Director since 2012)
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
The Power of Times Square (Anchor Light)
30 Rock (NBC)
Inside New York City Dance (MMN)
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
SwiftXKey (Android Central)