Shuffle, ball, change


Tap dancing kids, adults, take center stage in Evanston :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

photo courtesy of Kids On Tap New Jersey's Kids On Tap will participate in the Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Youth Tap Ensemble Conference at Northwestern University Aug. 2-8.

Brett Bibel got hooked on dance while watching "Swing Kids," a World War II era movie about Nazi Germany and a group of teens who pursue their dangerous love for banned swing music and dance. In the four years since he saw that movie, 13-year-old Bibel has gone on to be a scholarship-winning tap dancer.

"It's a good way to have fun and meet other kids. It's a good discipline," Bibel says.

The Schaumburg teenager is the winner of a scholarship from Chicago Human Rhythm Project, which organizes and produces tap dance festivals. He gets free dance classes with the organization and a free ticket to one of its performances. The project gave more than $12,000 worth of scholarships in its Tap Off! competition this February.

Kids like tap because "they like to make noise," says Lane Alexander, founder and artistic director for the tap organization. "Tap dancing is actually drumming. They actually become part of the music making."

Alexander says tap is a type of dance "that kids can relate to almost immediately."

The project hosts its 14th Annual Summer Festival of Tap and Percussive Dance Classes Aug. 2-8 at Northwestern University's Theatre and Interpretation building in Evanston. The weeklong program features youth and professional tap dancing performances and classes.

Ten group or individual festival participants will dance in Tap Slams Aug. 3-5.

"It's sort of ‘American Idol' for tap dancing," he says. The competition is for kids ages 10 and up, with $5 admission fee for audience members. The audience votes on the winner, who is awarded the evening's entry fees.

The Chicago Human Rhythm Project will also hold a Kids Program Aug. 4-6. Children ages 8 to 11 can register for nine different classes-three classes on each of the three days-for $175. Registration is available online at

The festival culminates with JUMBA! The Masters of Tap at the Josephine Louis Theater at Northwestern Aug. 6-8. Tickets range from $17 to $30. Chicago Human Rhythm Project is located at 2936 N. Southport Ave., Suite 210. Call (773) 281-1825 or visit for more information.

Alissa Calabrese


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