Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT) is a young and vibrant dance company with a unique mission to preserve the quintessentially American dance form of tap and to take tap to the next level of creativity and innovation. CTT stands apart from other dance companies by bridging the gap between tap and other forms of concert dance (such as jazz, ballet and modern) by adopting a conceptual, narrative (i.e., story-based) and more emotional approach to its work. Under the dynamic direction of internationally renowned dancer and choreographer Mark Yonally, CTT has gained a loyal following in its hometown of Chicago and continues to develop and enhance its reputation nationally and around the world.
CTT has distinguished its own unique voice from the very beginning. Yonally founded the company in 2002 after a successful career dancing in the U.S. and Europe as a tap soloist and ensemble member. He immediately put his stamp on tap choreography by presenting the first of CTT’s signature works, the tap “story show.” In 2003, the company became a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and took up residence at the Joel Hall Dance Center in the Andersonville neighbourhood of Chicago. By 2004, Chicago Tap Theatre had gained a strong enough foothold in the extremely competitive Chicago dance world to inaugurate its first self-produced, three-show season, putting itself on the same level as such established companies as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and River North Dance Chicago.
CTT has established a season of shows that speak to its mission of innovation, collaboration, and preserving tap’s rich history. CTT introduced a multi-denominational holiday show in 2004 and it is now a popular mainstay in the company’s performance season. It’s hallmark format the story show (a part of each season since 2005) has garnered critical acclaim for its portrayal of modern themes and personalities to tell original stories using a diverse range of music from Chet Baker to David Bowie; Nine Inch Nails to Leonard Cohen. CTT’s success in storytelling allows it to perform month-long runs, something that is virtually unheard of in dance. Its most recent success was an invitation to the New York Musical Theater Festival. CTT was the only tap company to perform at NYMF and this notable invitation helped prove the viability of the story show format and is a testament to the skill with which CTT conveyed its narrative. CTT also takes pride in preserving the history of tap with its Heritage series. CTT has performed the works of Buster Brown, Eddie Brown and Bill Evans, and regularly performs classic, universal tap pieces such as the BS Chorus and the Shim Sham.
CTT has a proud history of collaboration with other Chicago artists including, composer Andrew Edwards, comic book illustrator Andrew Pepoy, Instruments of Movement, Jay and Connie Fagan, MADD Rhythms, jazz band The Rhythm Four, and Rhythm ISS. CTT has also collaborated nationally with a tribute show to one of Yonally’s mentors, the modern dance mogul Bill Evans, and recorded a track with the rock band Polyphonic Spree. CTT has had the privilege to perform in many high profile, as well as non-traditional settings including the historic Green Mill, Jazz Dance World Festival, the New York Musical Theatre Festival and Lollapalooza, as well as the National Tap Dance Day Celebration in multiple cities.
This coming season CTT will present new and innovative tap dance while continuing to honor the past.