South Florida Tap Festival is on its fifth year and growing fast.
Based in South Florida, Andrea LaMaina and her team work hard to create a wonderful and informative event for every tap lover. The most recent event included classes that had something for every tapper, whether they were an aspiring rhythm maker wanting to learn breakthrough rhythm techniques or a dedicated professional tap dancer with a desire to teach or work in the field. The event also had improv classes as well as a show, a book signing, and a rhythm jam session. Overall, the event helps to connect inspiring young dancers with professional tappers. For more information about upcoming events click here.
We got in touch with the founder, Andrea LaMaina, and the co-producer, Nicole Smith, to talk about where they see the event going in the future and how it started.
1 What was one of the hardest things about creating the So Flo Tap Festival?
The So Flo Tap Festival was created out of love for the art form and a need in South Florida. It has always been and still is a labor of love. I think when you work like that, nothing seems “hard”. It is something that you want to do, so you just always do everything that you can do to make it successful.
2 How has the So Flo Tap Festival changed in the five years that you have been running it?
The festival has grown in the five years. It has evolved from a 2 to 3 day event and this past season we even added a live performance with the professional tap dancers.
3 With your background in teaching, choreography, and performing. Which do you enjoy doing the most and why?
I have my bachelors degree in dance performance and education as well as a certification to teach dance k-12. I have owned a dance studio in South Florida for 20 years and that gives me many opportunities to teach and choreograph. Before that, I wrote and implemented an exploratory arts program that included dance for a school district in North Jersey. My passion has always been teaching and sharing.
4 If you could go back in time, what advice and lessons that you have learned throughout your career would you have given your “younger self”?
I would tell my younger self to never rush. Time moves quickly and this has become the generation of instant gratification. I have learned that anything good is always worth the effort of time and patience. It takes time to cultivate a dancer, it takes time and thought to respond to anything that is deeply important.
5 If you could give advice for aspiring young dancers, what did you discover about the industry that you would want others to know about?
My advice would be simple: live your life and your dance life by this mantra, “No one will ever have to remind me to work hard and be motivated. No one. NEVER. Not ever! I do it without being told or reminded because I was born to succeed.” I use this mantra as an ending to many of the classes that I teach by having my students repeat it after I say it. It is never a bad time to work hard!
6 What can we expect to see next year at the So Flo Tap Festival?
Next season, you can expect more of the same… amazing faculty, an inspiring weekend and ALOT of fun and learning!
1 What got you into co-producing the So Flo Tap Festival?
Honestly, it was Andrea! Andrea was my tap teacher growing up, she made me fall in love with tap dancing and appreciate the art form. Growing up, her and I attended the South Eastern Tap Explosion which was a tap festival held just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. When I was 13 years old, I remember her telling me how she would one day want to create her very own tap festival, and honestly, it is truly amazing to be a part of that dream coming to fruition! Since then, So Flo Tap Fest has become a true labor of love, that both Andrea and myself, are so passionate about. It is an exciting endeavor to bring the tap dance community together every year to celebrate such a special art form.
2 If you could go back in time, what advice and lessons that you have learned throughout your career would you have given your “younger self”?
This is a tough one! If I had to give my younger self any advice it would be to just trust the artistic process and enjoy my own journey. Choosing a career as a dancer, teacher, or choreographer is not an easy path, but it is so rewarding. Over time, I have learned to really trust my process and enjoy my path as an artist, dancer, and educator. However, this wasn’t always the case! Growing up, I set a lot of expectations for myself because I thought that’s what I needed to do in order to be “successful” in this industry. But success is completely subjective and means something different to everyone. It’s very easy to get lost in social media and set unrealistic expectations for yourself or compare yourself to the dancers who are booking all of the jobs or winning all of the awards. I feel like once I learned to trust in my journey as an artist, I was able to really enjoy myself and grow as an individual. So, just focus on you and your journey and of course, enjoy it along the way!
3 If you could give advice for aspiring young dancers, what did you discover about the industry that you would want others to know about?
I feel like I have so much advice to give! First, never stop learning or pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself that you could possibly be. Second, discover something that interests you outside of dance. At the end of the day, we all dance because life without dance would be unimaginable and unbearable, but you are a human being first. So, find something that interests you that when you’ve had a tough day at the studio, or in rehearsal you can seek inspiration and rejuvenation elsewhere.
For example, I love cooking and I love going to the beach. Although I will always identify as a dancer, I am a human being first and I am able to enjoy other activities when my dance life or my work becomes too stressful. Third, social media is NOT real life. I repeat social media is NOT real life. Don’t get hung up on everything you see or everything that is posted. Of course, the dancer that always posts about booking all the jobs or being hand selected to perform the combo solo isn’t going to post about the times that they got cut or stood at the back of the class because they were struggling with the material. People tend to post their highest highs and avoid the lows. It’s important to now that as artists we have all experienced rejection and failure. Finally, make sure to train or dabble in all different styles and techniques. Of course, you can have your favorite styles or excel in one style over another but be sure to be a well-rounded dancer when it comes to training.
4 What can we expect to see next year at the So Flo Tap Festival?
For season 6 of So Flo Tap Fest you can expect to see more amazing faculty for another amazing and inspiring weekend of rhythm and fun! But the good our news is, is that you don’t have to wait until next year to enjoy So Flo Tap Fest! We actually have our very first POP-UP event scheduled for October 6th from 5-8pm with John Manzari and Evan Ruggiero! We are stoked to have our first POP-UP event of the season and I encourage our tap fam to continue to follow us on social media to stay up to date on future So Flo Tap Fest events!
5 How do you think So Flo Tap Festival has changed throughout the years?
So Flo Tap Fest has changed and grown tremendously over the last 5 years and it has been such an amazing experience to be a part of it! Year one consisted of 2 days, 6 faculty members and 6 amazing classes. It has been so inspiring to watch the festival grow to a 3 day fest, with 6 classes, we have been able to offer bonus classes, and last season, we were able to produce our very first performance, The Show, featuring our season 6 master faculty members, guest artists, and youth tap ensembles from around Florida including our very own So Flo Youth Tap Ensemble! The last five years have been nothing short of amazing and I am so excited to see what the next five years have in store!
Don’t forget to check out the POP UP with John Manzari and Evan Ruggiero on October 6, 2018, starting at 5 to 8pm. We here at DanceWear Corner can’t wait to see where this event goes next.