Ardie Bryant known worldwide as the Innovator of Modern Jazz Tap and the Ambassador of Tap is a master jazz tap percussionist, tap historian, educator, director, composer, arranger, actor, choreographer and musician with eight decades of professional experience. He is both a participant in, and a contributor to, the history of the American art form tap and is one of the last living links to a generation of master dancers.
Ardie began performing at the age of five in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. In his teens, he was influenced by the music of modern jazz giants Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and developed a new style of tap he named modern jazz tap. To further enhance the sounds of his percussive feet, Ardie designed his unique drum platform. Using the platform like a musical instrument, he created a pyrotechnic display of jazz tap percussion.
During his career, Ardie has been privileged to perform with such legendary artists as, Duke Ellington, Nat 'King' Cole, Count Basie, Kate Smith, Fred Allen, Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Ruth Brown, Lionel Hampton, Erroll Garner, Charles Mingus, Art Tatum, Lester Young, Billy May and Illinois Jacquet.
He appeared at all the major venues including The Palace, Paramount, Apollo Theaters and Carnegie Hall, and toured worldwide as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United States Department of Defense.
His dance memories and the sounds of his percussive feet are preserved in the Archives Center of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
In 2006, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs declared him a Los Angeles Cultural Treasure and named him the Ambassador of Tap for the City of LA.
As a young man, Ardie had the honor of being mentored by Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson. He told him that he was the world's original bebop dancer and that he had 'educated feet and ankles'. He advised him to live a clean life because some day he may have to carry on the art form. Ardie promised him that he would dedicate himself to the preservation of tap and pass his knowledge on to the next generation as it was passed on to him.
To fulfill that promise, Ardie has designed and developed a jazz tap technique and tap history curriculum that he has been teaching for several years, first at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and currently at California State University, Los Angeles. So much of the authentic dance of his era was never recorded on film, it happened spontaneously in live venues. In his lectures, Ardie brings his unique perspective to the decades of the 1940's, 50's and 60's. He recreates an entire era of tap with personal memories and rare footage from his own library. In addition, he explores the roots of tap going back to its inception in the 19th Century, bringing attention to the innovators of this magnificent American art form.
Ardie also volunteers his time as an inspirational speaker bringing his own brand of positive energy to schools, community service organizations, and inner city youth and senior centers. He recently was honored to receive the 'Legend Award' for his work in the Los Angeles senior community, from the prestigious St. Barnabas Senior Services Center at their 100th anniversary gala.
In his 80th year Ardie still continues to perform. He starred at the Calgary Stampede and recently appeared at The Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and The Luckman Jazz Orchestra, celebrating Duke Ellington's Sacred Music. He also appeared in a worldwide Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears and can be seen in the most recent IPOD commercial.