About the Institute

The Robert L. Reed Tap Heritage Institute Incorporated (RLRTHII), a not-for profit 501c(3) organization.

Our mission is to educate, enhance public awareness of, and promote an interest in, and an appreciation for tap as a vital indigenous American art form in all it's myriad forms, expressions, techniques, ethnicities, and diversities. With a primary goal to teach the general public in particular the youth (with special interest in the disadvantaged and under served) through master workshops, lectures, panel discussions, and professional concerts. Tap has rich in history and significance for the 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, each year 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 a week of Master Classes, a Tap Jam, Panel Discussion, Participant’s Showcase and the finale our ALL THAT TAP master tap concert.  In it's thirteen 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 it's primary constituency, the dance community; it's 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 for 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 which help further the art form and panel discussions to discuss how to work in this chosen field. Exhibition through performances help develop an appreciation for this indigenous American art form and it's traditional and cultural contributions to the world. The tap jam helps would be artists hone their improvisational skills by watching the 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” brings our teaching masters and performing professionals from around the world to St. Louis for a unique demonstration of tap skills.  This year we will be bringing this event to the beautiful new University of Missouri, Blanche M. Touhill Theater.  Conveniently located on the Metro Link line, the venue assures access to those who may not otherwise be able to attend.  Ticket prices this year have been set as low as $15 in order to insure accessibility to all members of the community.

 A reason for the great popularity of the festival might have something to do with the participation of world renown stars of yesterday, today, and the next generation. Rave reviews in newspapers and magazines as well as repeat and increased attendance each year are another barometer that the festival brings in the finest talent. The St. Louis Tap Festival is considered the best of it's kind in the world and is renown for bringing in the best, most famous, well established, and hottest hoofers of stage, screen and television known internationally as brilliant choreographers and performers.

 This year's participants include, Dr. Jimmy Slyde recipient of Oklahoma City University’s Doctor of Performing Arts in American dance, Ernest “Brownie” Brown & Reggio McLaughlin, Brownie was half of the Vaudville duo, Cook and Brown and appeared in the 1984 film “The Cotton Club”, Brownie now performs the trade mark “Chair Dance” with his protégé, Reggio who’s performing career started in the subways of Chicago and led to performances in theaters around the world.  Rosie Radiator,  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 with 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 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, performs regularly with the Tap Rag Tiger Trio.  Brining more diversity and flavor to the festival, Ten Foot Five will not only enjoy tap with us, but teach Hip Hop as well!

The SLTF also brings in business to the different venues including the Sheraton St. Louis City Center, as well as restaurant, souvenir stores, Gateway Arch, Union Station, St. Louis Zoo, Historic Soulard district etc. Many of our participants tour the great city that birthed the "St. Louis Blues" and "Ragtime", in particular the 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 here. In 1998, St. Louis Mayor, Clarence Harmon proclaimed August 3 as Robert L. Reed Tap Heritage Institute day.