Local dancer and New York entertainer features free community tap dance workshops

DUNEDIN – The Florida Tap Dance Project taps its way front and center Saturday, Sept. 15 at its ribbon cutting and dolphin unveiling ceremony. Sponsored by Clearwater resident, dancer, choreographer and instrumentalist Kayla Cowart, the free event will feature tap dance workshops at no cost (open to all Tampa Bay area tap dancers) from 10-1:30 p.m. at Patricia Ann Dance Studios, 941 Douglas Ave., Dunedin.

Workshop participants will have an opportunity to take classes with the Tap Dance Ambassadors of Florida, some of Florida’s most accomplished and passionate tap dance performers. The tap dance workshops will be followed by the Project’s ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. and a dolphin unveiling of “Rhythm,” the Florida Tap Dance Project’s official dolphin mascot.

The community festivities will continue from 2:30-4 p.m. in Dunedin’s Pioneer Park, 420 Main St., with tap dance performances by the Tap Dance Ambassadors of Florida and three of Pinellas County’s premier tap dance ensembles.

Tap Dance“Rhythm” is the newest addition to a pod of more than 220, six-feet-tall, mixed-media dolphins, designed by local artists and sponsored by local businesses that are making a splash along Pinellas County’s Dolphin Trail in St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

Dunedin is the first stop on Rhythm’s tap dance trail in honor of the late Elaine Forestier who founded Patricia Ann Dance Studios, a staple business in downtown Dunedin for more than 56 years.

Morgan Angillilis-Storrison of Tapped In, Inc. and Cowart—tagged the Tap Girl of Florida— both tapped under the toe-tapping musicality and tutelage of Forestier, who tapped actively until the age of 93. Forestier died this year at the age of 95.

Cowart views 2015 as a memorable year because not only did she graduate from Largo High School’s ExCEL Magnet Program in that year, but she also founded the Tap Dance Ambassadors of Florida comprised of herself and St. Petersburg/Clearwater tap dance professionals Angelillis-Storrison of Tapped In, Inc., Ruth Ann Martin of the Truth Tap Company, Ashlyn Bolton of the Rhythm and Sole Tap Ensemble, New York dancer Aubrey Cheek and Raymond Bennett.

She also pioneered the Florida Tap Dance Project with the goal of showcasing Tampa Bay’s emerging tap dancers in St. Petersburg/Clearwater and branding this local area as the “capital of Florida’s tap dance industry,” which is an integral part of the national tap dance community.

Dancing since she was two years old, Cowart entered community theater at age six and was a part of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s “Chocolate Nutcracker” and the Mahaffey Theatre’s “Chocolate with a Twist.”

Following high school graduation, Cowart attended a semester at St. Petersburg College before heading to the Big Apple for an open-call audition for Off-Broadway’s “Stomp.” After three auditions, she landed a part (currently playing two different characters) in the energetic music and dance production that has been entertaining New York audiences since 1994, and now in touring companies worldwide.

The Florida Tap Dance Project’s ribbon cutting and dolphin unveiling event are all about sensational sounds, good vibrations, the rhythmic beat of tapping feet and a heel-to-toe tapping great experience that you won’t want to miss!

Mark your calendars for Sept. 15, and let yourself discover the creative culture that is emerging throughout St. Petersburg/Clearwater’s unique tap dance industry.

Arts enthusiast that are interested in getting involved in the project and dancers that would like to reserve their spot for the free dance workshops can do so by emailing info@floridatap.com.

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