Tap Dancing Stamps
The 2021 Tap stamp sheet features five different dancers shot in midair or mid-shuffle: Max Pollak, Michela Marino Lerman, Derick K. Grant, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, and Ayodele Casel. Because postal regulations prohibit honoring a living person on any stamp, these dancers honor tap as representatives of the art form. Despite being stars in the dance world, they are unnamed on their stamps. A spokesperson for the USPS noted, “By featuring photographs of these talented dancers, the U. S. Postal Service intends to honor this important American dance form and, by extension, all tap dancers, past and present, who have made tap dancing a dynamic art that continues to evolve in response to new cultural influences.” In other words, “Get woke! It’s 2021.”
MAX POLLAK, born in 1970 in Vienna, Austria, is recognized worldwide for his work in percussive dance, world music, tap dance, and choreography. He created “RumbaTap,” which merged American rhythm tap with Afro-Cuban music and dance. He is the only non-Cuban member of the Afro-Cuban rumba and folklore ensemble Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. Max uses three instruments for his groundbreaking performances. He creates dance with his body, music with his hands and feet, and song with his voice. He takes his ground-breaking, unconventional approach to performing arts across multiple cultures. As a native Austrian, Max combines German language and the wide-range Yodel that can be seen in his 70-minute solo performance of “All In One.
MICHELA MARINO LERMAN
MICHELA MARINO LERMAN is a globally sought after tap dance artist, performer, choreographer, educator, and all around creative spirit. The Huffington Post has called her a “hurricane of rhythm,” and The New York Times has called her both a “prodigy” and has described her dancing as “flashes of brilliance.” She is very proudly a student of Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Leroy Myers, and Marion Coles. Lerman has performed, choreographed, produced, and directed many projects throughout her career, but she holds closest to her heart the shows she has led as a bandleader at some of New York’s greatest music venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smalls, Ginny’s Supper Club, Joe’s Pub, and many more. In 2017, Michela conceived, co-created, choreographed, and starred in This Joint is Jumpin’ which debuted in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s new London West End Theater, The Other Palace.
DERICK K. GRANT
DERICK K. GRANT is a performer, choreographer, and director who has an established career that spans over three decades. Under the direction of two time Tony Award winning director George C. Wolfe, he was an original company member and Dance Captain for Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk at both The Public Theater and on Broadway and also starred in the role of ‘da beat for the first National Tour of Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk. He created the critically acclaimed show Imagine Tap! and was appointed as the Co-Artistic Director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Rhythm World Summer Festival.
Like Beyoncé or Prince, the tap dancer DORMESHIA is singular enough to need no surname. In her field, she is unsurpassed in all-roundedness. Other tap dancers make artistic compromises. They sacrifice elegance for complexity, or sound for visual beauty, or the reverse. Not Dormeshia. In her dancing, nothing is missing. Music and motion are a unified impulse, a perfect whole, and every time she improvises, the history of tap meets its cutting edge. Among tap dancers, she has long been known as a master, commonly described as the greatest. In the 2013 retro revue After Midnight on Broadway, she won an Astaire Award for her performance, and she also has won Bessie awards, the concert-dance equivalent of Tonys. For the first time ever, the Joyce Theater in Manhattan has programmed three tap shows in a single season. One is Dormeshia’s.
AYODELE CASEL says only half jokingly that she hasn’t taken off her tap shoes since she started dancing. Born in the Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, her love of dance began with watching Janet Jackson videos. “However, my senior year in H.S. I was introduced to the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and I was absolutely enthralled with how they moved their feet.” Casel first took tap as a movement elective while majoring in acting at New York University’s Tisch School of The Arts. Just a few years later, she was dancing with Savion Glover’s Not Your Ordinary Tappers, the only female in the ensemble. She found her voice as a soloist, performing at New York City’s Triad Theatre in 1999 and Joe’s Pub in 2000. The themes that would come to define her work were already present: dancing to Latin music, honoring her Puerto Rican roots, and incorporating narratives and spoken word. As a 2018–19 artist in residence at Harvard, she presented research, taught and performed on campus, and began a community project around sharing and archiving personal narratives. Then as a 2019–20 fellow at the university's Radcliffe Institute, she began researching and developing Diary of a Tap Dancer: The Women. The next installment of her ongoing project, it focuses on the voices and lives of Black women tap dancers. Ayodele, performed at Gregory Hines cererony in 2019.