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 is known for their ability to create tap works that unite live music and tap dance and by frequently creating pieces with a strong conceptual or narrative thrust. 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 neighborhood 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, which they have continued to this day.
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 most seasons since 2005), has garnered critical acclaim for its portrayal of modern themes and personalities to tell original stories using original music, performed live by some of Chicago’s finest musicians. CTT’s success in storytelling allows it to perform month-long runs, something that is virtually unheard of in dance. CTT also takes pride in preserving the history of tap with its Heritage series. CTT has performed the works of Buster Brown, Eddie Brown, Cholly Adkins, Brenda Buffalino 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.
CTT is equally lauded as a provider of high quality, innovative Tap Education. In 2008 CTT began the Feel the Rhythm program, bringing tap education to children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. This program continues today, thanks in part to a partnership with Chicago Public Schools. In 2016 CTT began their Tap Intensives, offering 2 to 4 day tap experiences for intermediate and pre-professional level tap dancers. This program has been expanding rapidly, and CTT now present four intensives each year. Last year over $8,000 in scholarships was given out to worthy students across the country and in Canada.
This coming season CTT will present new and innovative tap dance while continuing to honor the past.