The Philadelphia Community Tap Project
The Philadelphia Community Tap Project (PCTP) is a free platform for accessible tap dance education and performance opportunities for children and adults.
Throughout the year, the PCTP executes three main programming streams:
1) Free educational opportunities for adults, culminating in performance opportunities;
2) Free training opportunities and traveling performance ensemble for youths, and;
3) A free, annual, city-wide outdoor celebration for National Tap Dance Day, which occurs on May 25 every year.
The PCTP commits wholeheartedly to these goals:
1) We are committed to maintaining zero barriers to program entry and participation. We aim to offer entirely free programming. No prior experience is required to take part, and we guide participants of all ages to train and work together across a variety of experience levels.
2.) We are committed to pairing all tap educational and performance activities with live musical accompaniment. Participants learn tap as an instrument, and then demonstrate the connection between tap dance and live music on stage for audiences in Philadelphia.
3.) We are committed to building a strong tap dance community and a strong audience base in Philadelphia, where so much tap dance
history was made, and continues to be made. We actively choose to present tap dance and live music in a variety of neighborhoods and venues across the city.
4.) We are committed to training, supporting and mentoring all people in the project, such that they are inspired to create, innovate and share tap dance with others, long into the future.
2017-2018 PCTP Committee
Pamela Hetherington: Founder, Executive Director
Jaye L. Allison: Assistant Director
Howard "Sid" Lucas: Secretary
Kate Pettit: Development
Daniel O'Brien: Deputy Director, City of Philadelphia
State and City Representatives:
Donna Bullock: PA State Representative
Darrell Clarke: City Council, District 5
The framework for the Philadelphia Community Tap Project began in 2008 as a solo effort by Pamela Hetherington to grow a tap dance scene, an audience and a sustainable community infrastructure for Philadelphia tap dance. Hetherington self-produced master classes, tap jams, and eleven community tap dance and jazz music shows, from 2008-2014. The events happened all over Philadelphia and found 'homes' at places with hardwood tap floors, like the Community Education Center, the Ethical Society and LaRose Jazz Club.
In 2014, these myriad efforts scaled into The Philadelphia Community Tap Project, a unified platform of education and performance opportunities. Although the project is decidedly local in its goal to bring free tap dance programs to the people of Philadelphia, the project has always looked outward, by connecting Philadelphia tap dancers and musicians with internationally- renowned percussive artists from around the world.
The 2014 project, led by Dorothy Wasserman, proved the success of the tap dance and live music educational concept, from the classroom to the stage. Since that first year, the PCTP has successfully executed three more yearly educational residences and culminating concerts for 25-40 adults each year, led by internationally-renowned choreographers Heather Cornell, Max Pollak and Ray Hesselink and Philadelphia jazz musicians.
After many years of cycling the programming through many rental locations, in September 2015, Hetherington stabilized The Philadelphia Community Tap Project at a 625-square foot hardwood-floored space at 1525 North Bailey Street, (or Sound Space 1.0). In March 2017, Hetherington expanded Sound Space Performing Arts to 2511 West Girard Avenue, 2nd Floor, a 1200-square foot, hardwood-floored percussive dance space. With this expansion to Sound Space 2.0, the PCTP has engaged more participants while simultaneously expanding its program reach. The program participants are welcomed as if the studio was their own home; they have access to practice and create in the space at any time.
In May 2016, The Philadelphia Community Project joined other cities around the world by presenting a National Tap Dance Day Celebration, a tradition that was initiated and brought to great success years prior, by Beverly Rolfsmeyer, Peggy Leiby and others through the Philadelphia Tap Alliance. The National Tap Dance Day celebrations of the 1990s put Philadelphia on the map, and it was our sincere goal to pick up the tradition where it left off. In May 2016, the celebration was held outside at Passyunk Square. The May 2017 celebration was planned for City Hall/Dilworth Park, but torrential rain moved us to Headhouse Square. The 2017 celebration received national coverage in the May 2017 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine.
In April 2017, The Philly Clicks, a traveling youth tap ensemble, was born. The guiding principles of the ensemble are modeled upon Hetherington's youth participation from 1988-1996 in the Police Athletic League traveling talent troupe, which traveled all over the city and provided her with priceless performance experiences. The ensemble program provides the kids with technical training, education about the historical roots of tap dance in America, and how to work with live musical accompaniment.