Press Release

The Philadelphia Folklore Project presents
Germaine Ingram in an open studio performance of jazz tap dance

Germaine Ingram.  Philadelphia, PA. - The Philadelphia Folklore Project presents a special afternoon of choreographed, semi-choreographed, improvised and off-the-cuff tap dance by Germaine Ingram, to live music by local jazz artists, as part of the Philadelphia Folklore Project's Art Happens Here artist residency program, on Sunday, May 22nd at 2:30 PM at Indre Recording Studios, 1418 S. Darien St. (between 8th and 9th, off Reed) in South Philadelphia.

Ingram is a noted Philadelphia tap dancer and recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in folk and traditional arts. This open studio program offers a chance to see and hear this dancer in the process of developing work with accomplished musicians. "Don't leave all your dancing in the rehearsal hall," is a piece of folk wisdom shared by tap dancers. Musicians also caution, "If we rehearse too hard now, we won't have any juice for the show." On May 22, 2005, Germaine Ingram and a group of stellar musicians, including bassist Tyrone Brown and guitarist Gerald "Twig" Smith, will get together and trade music and dance, as if in an open rehearsal, but here, no one will need to hold back; artists will be able to explore some pieces with a freedom rarely possible in a more formal setting.

Over the last ten years, Germaine Ingram - well known as the student and partner of National Heritage Award-winning Philadelphia tap dance great LaVaughn Robinson - has been developing both solo and group choreography, and her own artistic "voice." She has had increasing opportunities to work with accomplished musicians. She says, "This has given me a chance to feel myself as an instrument. Also, I've been able to play around with different ways of using my body. It has always been an issue for me, to try to tap in a way that has percussive impact but that lets me move in a dancerly way. Working with really accomplished musicians, it feels as if I have more space, more license to use my body as visual expression, where I am hitting with movement as well as with my feet."

Germaine IngramGermaine Ingram came under the spell of jazz tap dance in the early 1980s when she began intensive study with internationally acclaimed tap artist and teacher LaVaughn Robinson. She has pursued tap's call through performance, choreography, teaching, oral history, video-making and stage production for more than twenty years. Since 1985 she has performed with her mentor, Robinson, and as a soloist, and has taught workshops, throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. She has shared bills with tap greats spanning at least three generations, including the late Honi Coles, Jimmy Slyde, the late Buster Brown, the Nicholas Brothers, the late Gregory Hines, Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino, Savion Glover and Baakari Wilder. She appeared with Robinson in the Emmy Award-winning public television production "Gregory Hines' Tap Dance in America." She has choreographed solo and ensemble pieces for Manhattan Tap and Washington-based Tappers With Attitude, as well as works for musical theater, and has performed widely. She has been featured twice in Philadelphia's Dance Boom Festival.

Ingram earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and did post-graduate studies at Harvard University as a Fellow in Law and Humanities. She has been a law professor, a litigation attorney, a civil rights lawyer, the head of a governmental law department, and was Chief of Staff of the 209,000-student School District of Philadelphia. She currently works as an educational consultant.

In the early 1990s, Ingram initiated research with the Folklore Project on an oral history project documenting the lives and artistic styles of veteran African American tap dancers in Philadelphia. That endeavor resulted in "Plenty of Good Women Dancers," a 1994 PFP documentary on African American women tap dancers, co-directed by Ingram, which just premiered on WHYY-TV in March of this year. This 53-minute DVD brings attention to the voices and experiences of Philadelphia women who worked as dance acts, in the chorus line, and as show producers from the 1930s and 1940s through the 1980s. Speaking candidly, dancers of that era reveal how buried assumptions about race, class, gender, and color shaped their lives, and affected the evolution of an art form. "Plenty" features rare archival dance footage, along with more recent interviews, and is available for purchase from the Philadelphia Folklore Project.

Germaine Ingram and friends, an Open Studio Performance, is part of the Philadelphia Folklore Project's Art Happens Here program.

Sunday, May 22, 2005, at 2:30 PM, at Indre Recording Studios, 1418 S. Darien Street. Tickets are $10, and available through the Philadelphia Folklore Project website or by check to the PFP office, 735 South 50th Street, Phila., PA 19143.

Art Happens Here is a special artist residency and development program organized by the Philadelphia Folklore Project, an 18-year-old public interest folklife agency. The Philadelphia Folklore Project affirms the human right to cultural expression and works to protect the rights of people to know and practice traditional and community-based arts. PFP offers public education in the folk arts, develops community projects and documentary resources, and organizes around issues of concern in the field of folk and traditional arts.

Art Happens Here is made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and by Philadelphia Folklore Project members.

For JPEGs, to schedule interviews, or more information contact: Toni Shapiro-Phim, 215-726.1106; toni@folkloreproject.org

*Photos of Germaine Ingram at Dance Boom courtesy of Gabriel Bienczycki, 2005.