Rising Tap Stars (and some Pros) Heat Things Up At Skippers

Posted by Maria Miaoulis in Alicia Smith, Dai Oyama, Frank Clemente, Frank Noviello, Greg Bufford, Hillary-Marie, Jazz Events, Jeffry Foote, Justin Ballasy, Recaps & Reviews, Skippers, Newark, NJ, Tap Events, Yvette Glover

November 2nd, 2009   Comments Off on Rising Tap Stars (and some Pros) Heat Things Up At Skippers

Ms. Yvette Glover & Justin

"Tap Mom" Yvette Glover with 13-year-old tap sensation, Justin Ballasy

Tucked away on a street corner in Newark, you certainly don’t expect much when first setting foot in Skippers Plane Street Pub. As you walk in, it’s impossible to believe there will be enough room for the patrons, let alone the tap dancers scheduled to perform in this past Thursday’s Tap Jam. Even the upright bass was bigger than the stage that had been set up.

Taking a seat at the cozy wooden tables, though, you instantly felt at home. The sense of community in the room quickly put you at ease, but with no less anticipation of what good times laid ahead.

Justin Ballasy

Justin Ballasy and Jeffry Foote

The band began to set up, but the rowdy crowd paid no attention. You could barely hear the players tuning their instruments. However this wasn’t the case when 13-year-old tapper Justin Ballasy tested out the platform. His thundering steps momentarily drowned out all conversation. You couldn’t help but stare at him, transfixed by the power such a young boy could muster — enough to make your heart pound in sync with his moves.

Ms. Yvette Glover, mother of famed tap dancer and choreographer Savion Glover, took the stage to host the night’s festivities. The pride in her voice was obvious as she welcomed everyone to the event, held to showcase New Jersey’s young tap talent, or as she referred to them – “my tap family, whose parents had them just for me.”

The youngest dancers, Ballasy and 12-year-old Frank Clemente – were introduced, and they lost no time “trading” with one another. Although Ballasy commanded the stage with his intricate footwork, young Clemente had no trouble keeping up, proving he has great potential for a future in tap. When the two “brought it home” as Ms. Glover called out to them, the crowd erupted in applause, amazed at what they had just seen.


Hillary-Marie (foreground) waits her turn with Justin Ballasy (left) and Jeffry Foote (right)

By then, the more seasoned performers had begun drifting in. They were just as anxious to get going as we were to watch them. Although each had his or her own solo, the electricity they created when they all were on stage at once could not be overlooked. Hillary-Marie, the lone female in the group at the time, more than held her own, drawing forth the crowd with her swaying arms and ever-ready grin. Not to be outdone, the men brought their own skills to the fore, Jeffry Foote and Dai Omiya among them. Their faces were masks of concentration, feeding off the energy of the crowd along with the smooth sounds of the band.

Later, Hillary-Marie was joined by Alicia Smith for a ladies trade. Their graceful collaboration brought just as much soul and spunk to the venue, if not more than that found in the men’s piece.

Dave & Maria

Jazzville, NJ Founder, D.A. Gutierrez with Contributing Editor, Maria Miaoulis

The highlight of the night was undoubtedly Frank Noviello’s impromptu performance of “All God’s Children Got Swing.” Each dancer shared the stage with the jazz vocalist, trying to match his riveting series of scats with their quick steps, absolutely captivating the crowd in the process.

Those lucky enough to have been in attendance were treated to an incredible evening full of gifted routines. If the Tap Jam was any indication of their future accomplishments we truly witnessed great stars in the making.

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