Growing up in Kansas, tapper Mark Yonally found his niche as a dancer by jamming with jazz musicians. His love for embodying live jazz music would become the foundation of Chicago Tap Theatre (CTT), a 13-year old tap company committed to original music and storytelling – a departure from traditional perceptions of tap dance. Where many tap companies view the form as a genre of music, opting for plain costumes and plotless soundscapes, Yonally is more interested in positioning tap as a choreographic form, using stagecraft and live music with tap dance to tell contemporary stories.

CTT brings holiday cheer to the intimate UIC Theater this weekend in the annual “Tidings of Tap!” Holiday Spectacular. The evening features two premieres alongside audience favorites such as CTT Alum Rich Ashworth’s acappella “12 Days of Christmas” and his lyrical “Winter Winds,” plus Yonally’s “Chanukah, oh Chanukah,” a rousing feat of athleticism for the company’s three men (Yonally, Isaac Stauffer, and new apprentice Aric Barrow). Yonally’s piece de resistance is “Rest Ye, Man,” his solo improvisation set to a jazz interpretation of “Oh Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

-Lauren Warnecke, SeeChicagoDance
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“One of the more unique elements of the show, in my opinion, is it’s a very inclusive show. In addition to pieces that recognize and celebrate Christmas, we have pieces that celebrate Chanukah and the winter season.”

Kurt Schweitz is Chicago Tap Theatre’s music director, who also performs bass and piano, sings and handles other duties during performances.

“He really is kind of a musical genius,” said Yonally, who co-founded Chicago Tap Theatre in 2002 with who would end up to be his wife, Jennifer Pfaff Yonally.

“Even the most traditional holiday songs we do like are livened up by custom arrangements done by our music director. As lovely as hearing choir songs are, these are not your stock arrangements. These are fun and unique and different takes on things people have heard before.”

-Interview with Mark Yonally by Jesse Virtusio, Chicago Tribune – Daily Southtown
Read the full article HERE

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photos by Josh Hawkins