About the Institute
The Robert L. Reed Tap Heritage Institute Incorporated (RLRTHII), is a not-for profit 501c (3) organization.
Our mission is to educate, enhance public awareness of, promote an interest in, and appreciate tap as a vital indigenous American art form in all its myriad forms, expressions, techniques, ethnicities, and diversities. Our primary goal is to teach the general public, in particular youth (with special interest in the disadvantaged and underserved), through master workshops, lectures, panel discussions, and professional concerts. Tap has a rich history and significance for American culture. Tap is not only an art, but a tool to educate, teach, promote, and preserve a historical institution. Tap dance has influenced and transformed every aspect of the performing arts and popular culture as well as theater and film.
In pursuit of our mission, we host a world-class tap dance festival each summer in St. Louis, Missouri. This project titled “The St. Louis Tap Festival” (SLTF) runs each year for one week late in July and/or early in August. Returning to the Sheraton St. Louis City Center again this year, the festival provides Master Classes, “Tap Jam”, panel discussion, a Participant’s showcase, and the finale, our “All That Tap” Master Tap Concert. In its twenty-three year history, the SLTF has been able to touch a large cross-section of the St. Louis area, United States, as well as the world. It has been able to address and meet the needs of its primary constituency, the dance community; its secondary constituency, the community at large; with tertiary consideration given to the African-American Community. The Organization has been able to develop a racially diverse volunteer board for the event and the organization as well as for the festival participants and the audience. We also develop partnerships with local, national, and international dance companies and studios in order to allow them to invest time and resources in the production.
The festival consists of three components: Education, Exhibition, and the Awards Ceremony.
Education through master classes helps further the art form and panel discussions show how to work in this chosen field. Exhibition through performances help develop an appreciation for this indigenous American art form and its traditional and cultural contributions to the world. The Tap Jam helps aspiring artists hone their improvisational skills by watching masters, artists, and peers improvise. They are often challenged to join in. The masters, at this time, offer their expert advice and experience. The awards ceremony is a means of preserving and documenting excellence in the field of tap.
Our annual Master Tap Concert - “All That Tap” - attracts teaching masters and performing professionals from around the world to St. Louis for a unique demonstration of tap skills. This year we will host this event at the beautiful Edison Theater at Washington University. Conveniently accessible to the Metro Link line, the venue assures access to those who may not otherwise be able to attend
The SLTF is extremely popular due to the participation of world renowned stars of yesterday, today, and the next generation. Rave reviews in newspapers and magazines as well as increased attendance each year are confirmation that the festival brings in the finest talent. The St. Louis Tap Festival is considered the best of its kind in the world and is renowned for bringing in the best, most famous, well established, and hottest hoofers of stage, screen and television known internationally as brilliant choreographers and performers.
Past faculty has included: Dr. Jimmy Slyde, a recipient of Oklahoma City University’s Doctor of Performing Arts in American dance, Ernest “Brownie” Brown, who was half of the Vaudeville duo, Cook and Brown appeared in the 1984 film “The Cotton Club” and now performs the trademark “Chair Dance” with his protégé, Reggio McLaughlin, who’s performing career started in the subways of Chicago and led to performances in theaters around the world, Rosie Radiator, the creator of Rad Taps® and has performed with the likes of Donald O’Connor, several tap companies and developed Tap Electronics™, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, featured in the Broadway musical “Black & Blue”, was the first woman to perform in Savion Glover’s Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, MADD Rhythms featuring Bril Barrett, “Tre” Dumas, and Jumaane Taylor from Chicago have been hittin’ it hard on stages around the country with their rhythms, Avi Miller & Ofer Ben, native Israelis, have performed in many international venues, Robert L. Reed, founder, artistic director, and producer of the St. Louis Tap Festival, host of his own variety show in Japan “Robert Hall”, Professor and Artist in Residence at Oklahoma City University, former choreographer and dance captain of the show, "Riverdance", Mr. Reed’s daughter, Robin Reed, has performed around the world and most recently served as the only assistant to the late great Dr. Leonard Reed’s teaching the Shim Sham Shimmy and the Bambalina, his son, Robert Reed III, toured with Savion Glover in the 2003 international tour of Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, has performed and taught around the world, Ulrike Dinger, protégé of Mr. Reed, hailing from Dusseldorf Germany, is the producer of the Duisburg Steptanz Festival and performs regularly with the Tap Rag Tiger Trio. Bringing more diversity and flavor to the festival, Ten Foot Five not only enjoyed tap with us, but taught Hip Hop as well!
This year’s faculty includes Professor Robert L. Reed, a much sought after tap teacher, producer, choreographer, and performer who has taught and performed all over the world, is proficient at teaching many styles of tap and is the protégé of Maceo Anderson, a founding member of the Four Step Brothers dance act was with “Riverdance” as dance captain and toured as a principle with Incognito in Europe, was a featured artist at the Peg Leg Bates Resort, has toured with Cab Calloway, opened for such luminaries as Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lewis, Redd Foxx, Cher, the Smothers Brothers and David Hasselhoff, appears in the critically acclaimed Peg Leg Bates documentary “Dancing with the Peg”, hosted his own television show in Japan named for him - Robert Hall, which featured Quentin Tarantino and Brittany Spears as guests, Logan Miller, protégé of Robert L. Reed, has had the opportunity to travel and perform worldwide, has appeared in Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards’ A Shared Evening – Danspace Project and On Tap – Summer Stage in NYC, is a member of Emmy-Award winning Choreographer, Jason Samuels Smith’s A.C.G.I., Avi Miller & Ofer Ben are tap dancers, performers, teachers, and lecturers who studied hoofing with many tap teachers and mentors and their tap dancing experience spans over 35 years and includes countries such as: Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Holland, Israel, Japan, Thailand and the USA, Jason Samuels Smith (performer, choreographer, director) has emerged as a multi-talented leader in the Art form of Tap and his accolades include a Dance Magazine Award, an Emmy, an American Choreography Award for “Outstanding Choreography, and the Gregory Hines Humanitarian Award; Hoofers Award and , Karen Callaway Williams, the producer of Rhythms for Ruby, is known for being both the first African-American female tap dancer and dance captain in “Riverdance - The Show” and the only African-American female tap dancer and dance captain in “Riverdance – On Broadway”, Bob Audy has worked in every aspect of show business as director-choreographer for Broadway, television, movie, and summer theatre across the country, has coached or taught numerous stars and has trained several generations of international tap dancers by focusing on crystal clear tap and strong use of arms, Evan Ruggiero was accepted into the New Jersey Tap Ensemble at age 10, later diagnosed with a rare bone cancer disease that claimed his right leg, yet he carries the legacy of legend Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates having performed with Maurice Chestnut, Karen Callaway Williams and DeWitt Fleming, Maud Arnold (Tap Dance Advisor), teaches and performs in Brazil, Tokyo, Barcelona, Russia and all across the United States, is the co-director and producer of the critically acclaimed and internationally recognized DC Tap Festival with her sister Chloé Arnold, Chloé Arnold is a leading lady in the Art Form of Tap, Co-founder of DC Tap Festival and Co-Director of La Tap Festival whose most recent highlights include guest performing on NBC's America's Got Talent, ABC's Dancing With The Stars and FOX's So You Think You Can Dance, and her work can be seen on film, television, and stages worldwide, Martin "Tre" Dumas III is a tap dancer and choreographer from Chicago featured in the North American and European tours of "Riverdance", co-starred with Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards in the "The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang", and proudly debuted his first full production featuring Jus’LisTeN entitled, “Tap Like Water”, Megan Maltos trained exclusively at Danswest Dance in Tucson under the direction of Frank Trent until 2001, has had the privilege to study with such greats as Amy Ernst, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, David Berkey, Nina Janik, and Susan Quinn, and has worked in local industrials, music videos, TV, and film.
The SLTF also brings in business to the different venues including the Sheraton St. Louis City Center, as well as restaurant, souvenir stores, the Gateway Arch, Union Station, the St. Louis Zoo, the Historic Soulard district etc. Many of our participants tour the great city that birthed the "St. Louis Blues" and "Ragtime", especially overseas guests. The Tap Heritage Institute has put St. Louis on the map for tap!
The civic community appreciates the value and significance of the festival's presence in St. Louis. In 1998, St. Louis Mayor, Clarence Harmon, proclaimed August 3 as Robert L. Reed Tap Heritage Institute Day.