FLINT, Michigan — After 20 years, a Flint tap crew again will grace the stage at the Apollo Theater in New York City. And, once again Alfred Bruce Bradley is the driving force behind the opportunity for Flint kids to show their talent on one of the world’s largest stages while honoring the legacy of tap and bringing light to their community.
Then and now, this opportunity is a result of hard work and family. Two decades ago, Bradley brought the tapping troupe called the Flint Hoofers to the Apollo stage and competed in 1999 in the nationally televised talent contest "Showtime at the Apollo." His daughter, Alexandria Bradley is one of the original Flint Hoofers — and last year she served as an artist in residence at the Apollo Theater.
After Alexandria Bradley bragged about the work her father was doing to promote the art of dance through performance, education, and community outreach with Tapology, the troupe was invited to perform at the Apollo as part of its education programming. Thirteen members of Tapology’s Flint Youth Ensemble are in the Big Apple now, readying to perform at the storied venue on April 5 an audience of school children from throughout New York.
The program includes a performance and education about the history and culture of tap — essentially an extension of the show Tapology has performed for the last 17 years for Flint area schools, said Karen Tipper, administrative director and fund development for the Tapology Dance Festival.
The Harlem stage is legendary. It dates back to 1914 and became a premiere venue in the 1930s — giving start to acts including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Gladys Knight, and Lauryn Hill.
Planning and logistics for this event have been in the works since January, Tipper said — including dance practice, fundraising, technical assistance and planning for food and lodging during the trip.
Tapology received support from Ruth Mott Foundation, Hagerman, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and James A Welch Foundation and continues to seek support to cover its expenses for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the dancers, who participate at no cost. To donate, go to giving.tapology.org.
“We are humbly grateful for support and encouragement that has brought Tapology thus far in this life long endeavor. That our accomplishments are the results of a great city and community that is fueled by a spirit greater than ourselves,” Bradley said.
Tapology classes are offered to students at no cost 5-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday at Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village. For more information, email Karen@tapology.org.