The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience

November 11-13, 2011

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This past workshop in the Tradition In Tap - Series
was dedicated to the work of Tap Giant:

Ms. Sarah Petronio

The Sarah Petronio Tap ExperienceThe Sarah Petronio Tap Experience

Photo Credits: All the photos in this page are by Peter Petronio unless otherwise mentioned.

Pictures Taken in Classes
The Workshop's Poster
Participants Showcase - Program
Workshop Faculty
Workshop Description

This Exciting Tap Workshop Included:
  • Original Choreography taught by the 'Master' herself.
  • Honorary Master Classes by leading tap artists.
  • Participants Showcase.
  • Tradition In Tap - Award Ceremony.
  • Tap History Talks.
  • Video Presentation.
  • Tap Exercises & Technique.
  • Special Program for Teens and Young Tappers.

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
Sarah Petronio with Dr. Jimmy Slyde

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
Sarah Petronio with Dr. Jimmy Slyde


Sarah Petronio - "... speaking from the heart, dancing from the soul."

Jazz Tap Artist Sarah Petronio was born in India. She immigrated to New York at the age of 19 and later moved to Paris, France. She met, befriended and apprenticed with Tap Legend Dr. Jimmy Slyde becoming his dancing partner for a short while. The duo performed their tap and jazz concert "It's About Time" at concerts and jazz festivals throughout Europe.

A major force in introducing Rhythm Tap to French audiences, Petronio founded the Git le Coeur multi-disciplined Cultural Center that included "Show Biz" a children's performing arts center. She formed the Paris Tap Dance Company and created the Tap Dance Department of the American Center in Paris.

In the 90's, she joined the faculty of the Columbia College Dance Center in Chicago, performed in "Ellington's Sacred Concert" with Bill Russo and his orchestra and curated the first "Chicago on Tap" concert in 1994 for the opening of Navy Pier. Invited artists included Jimmy Slyde, Savion Glover, Ted Levy, Mark Mendonca, Chuck Green, Van Porter, Brenda Bufalino, Acia Gray, Lon Chaney, Karen Callaway-Williams and Leela Petronio.

Presented by Jimmy Slyde as "The First Lady of Swing", Sarah has broken ground as a woman in the jazz world. She has brought her special style of jazz tap rhythms and improvisation to jazz clubs and festivals: Montana, Latitudes, New Morning, Sunside, Bilboquet in Paris, Green Mill, Jazz Showcase and Bop Shop in Chicago, Jazz Yatra (India), Jazz à Juan, Danse à Aix, Nuit des Lerins at Cannes, Ravinia Jazz Festival, Australia's Fremantle Jazz Festival, Colorado Tap Festivals, Portland and Boston Tap Festivals, Austin's Sole to Soul Festival, Gracey Tune's Jazz Nights in Fort Worth, New York's Tap City and festivals in Israel, Germany, Tokyo, Spain and the Netherlands. She is proud to have shared the stage with Gregory Hines, Honi Coles, Steve Condos, Eddie Brown, the Nicholas Brothers, LaVaughn Robinson, Brenda Bufalino, Dianne Walker, Acia Gray and many wonderful dancers worldwide.

    Sarah has received:
  • The 2003 Moscow Tapparade Award for her Contribution to the Art of Performance and Excellence of Teaching Tap Dance in Russia.
  • The 2004 Lexington Tapestry Award for Teaching with Passion, Dedication and Inspiration.
  • The 2005 New York Tap City Hoofer Award.
  • The 2007 Soul to Sole Tapestry Award for her Timeless Dedication to the Art of Tap Dance.

In 2007, Sarah Petronio was invited to give the prestigious "La Grande Leçon" - A master class destined to share a master teacher's creative process and teaching methods with a live audience at the National Dance Center of France.

She has appeared in: "Honi Coles, A Class Act", "Les Claquettes! Quel Pied!" (Riou-Pouchain), "Thinking on Their Feet - Women of the Tap Renaissance" (Jenai Cutcher), "Sweet Feet" (Jackie Paré).

Besides teaching and performing tap, Sarah has worked in advertising as a creative director and copy writer, written dance articles for magazines and received a Feldenkrais practitioner's certificate.

Currently residing in the Paris Region, tap ambassador Sarah Petronio performs her "Jazz in Motion"© and "When Tap Meets Jazz"© concerts with tap dancer and body percussionist Leela Petronio and some of France's finest Jazz musicians. Her "Tap Messengers"© concerts have included tap artists - Leela Petronio, Kazu Kumagai, Ayako Ukawa, Sharon Lavi, Nicholas Young and Carson Murphy. She continues to teach intensive workshops for teachers and dancers, writes poetry, practices yoga and listens to great Jazz.

    What the critics said:
    • Constance Valis Hill, dance historian, USA: "Sarah Petronio is one of our veritable jazz tap dancers whose musicality, phrasing, intricate rhythmic motifs, swing, and insistence on listening to and working with jazz musicians in performance truly distinguish her as a jazz dancer. She blurs the boundaries between the music and dance, refusing that the music be mere accompaniment. Her ethos of improvisation, and the way in which she listens to and inserts herself into the musical ensemble is similar in practice to the great Baby Laurence - though her sound and her rhythmic sensibilities are totally her own. She is an original jazz tap dance artist."

    • Jennifer Dunning, dance critic, New York Times: "An exaltation was present in 'Just You, Just Me' and improvisational duet performed by the great Jimmy Slyde and Sarah Petronio, a dream of a dancer, who has the relaxed and wordly chic of an American transplant to Paris, where she has taught generations of tap performers."

    • Neil Tesser, jazz critic, The Chicago Reader & National Public Radio: "Petronio moved past jazz-tap's expected musical base, the easy swing rhythms of Count Basie; instead she prefers to apply her feet to music by more modern artists such as Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Bill Evans and Carlos Jobim. But she solos with the straightforward delight in pure motion that characterized Basie's greatest drummer, Jo Jones."

    • Howard Reich, jazz critic, Chicago Tribune: "Imagine the breezy, freewheeling tap of Bill Robinson, the stage savvy of Sammy Davis Jr. and the unpredictable rhythms of Thelonious Monk, and you'll understand the basic vocabulary of Petronio's art. Listen closely and you'll hear some fascinating rhythms; watch closely and you'll see an actress whose mood, expression and tone change constantly. Petronio proved to be the rarest artist of all - an original."

    • Times of India: "Referred to by Jazz India as an 'out-of-this-world citizen', Sarah Petronio lived up to the sobriquet. Her tap dancing virtuosity left an impression that will forever be encased in this reviewer's mind."

    • Indian Post, Jazz Yatra: "She came all the way from Paris and tap danced right into our hearts, putting jazz into motion, delightfully."

    • Associated Press, New York: "Petronio returned for one of the night's best improvisations as she spun through complex, delicate combinations, only occasionally leaping up or hitting the edge of one brown shoe against the stage for punctuation. Unlike more explosive tappers, the excitement of Petronio's performance lies in the patina of rhythm she lays onto the wood."

    • Robert Johnson, Star-Ledger, New York: "These innovations are the logical outgrowth of the familiar art of jazz improvisation. Tap is all about exploring musical possibilities, which Sarah Petronio later demonstrated in an exceptionally suave solo, accompanied by Larry Ham at the piano, Earl May on bass and drummer Eddie Ornowski."

    • Avra Petrides, Founder/Artistic Director, THE BRIDGE Stage Of The Arts: "Sarah Petronio is a real artist in the field of tap dance. I would say she is unsurpassed".

    • Associated Press, New York (6/29/2005): "The master rhythm tapper and former partner of the great Jimmy Slyde received this year's Hoofer Award from Tap City. The usually communicative audience was silent as Petronio eased out of her finale, listening and watching intently until she joked 'It's over now.' Fortunately, there was more to come, as Petronio's daughter, Leela, joined her for an a cappella duet. 'I'd like someone I've known for a long time to join me and we'll see what happens' Petronio quipped by way of introduction. What happened was a conversation at once casual and intimate, as mother and daughter moved in and out of each other's rhythms, toes and heels vibrating too quickly and subtly to follow with the eye."

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
Just Friends at The Colorado Tap Festival.
(L to R) Eddie Brown, Jimmy Slyde, Honi Coles, Sarah Petronio, Gregory Hines & Steve Condos.

More about Sarah Petronio can be found at:

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
Sarah and LeeLa Petronio

Workshop Faculty:
Click on a name for extended bio and pictures

The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
  • Ofer Ben
  • Karen Callaway Williams
  • Denise Caston
  • Barbara Duffy
  • Acia Gray
  • Josh Hilberman
  • Melba Huber
  • Avi Miller
  • Carson Murphy
  • Prof. Clare O'Donnell
  • Sarah Petronio
  • Prof. Robert L. Reed
  • Germaine Salsberg
  • Prof. Hank Smith
  • Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards
  • Nicholas Young

  • Workshop Description:
    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience,
    an intensive weekend of exciting events, included:

    Tap Course:
    Sarah Petronio assisted by Carson Murphy
    • Original Choreography: The Bop Shop
      Sarah Petronio, assisted by Carson Murphy taught an original routine named The Bop Shop. This is one of many routines choreographed by Ms. Petronio, highlighting her Tap Legacy

    Honorary Tap Master Classes:
    Karen Callaway-Williams, Barbara Duffy, Acia Gray,
    Josh Hilberman, Prof. Robert L. Reed,
    Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Nicholas Young

    • Seven leading tap artists taught reflections on Sarah Petronio's legacy through their personal work. Each drew on Petronio's influence and contribution to his / her own career.

    Tradition In Tap - Award Ceremony:
    Dianne 'Lady Di' Walker & Prof. Robert L. Reed
    • Dianne 'Lady Di' Walker and Prof. Robert L. Reed presented Sarah Petronio with the Tradition In Tap Award for: "Outstanding Achievements & Significant Contribution To The Tradition And Art Of Tap Dance".

    Tap History Talks:
    Melba Huber
    • Melba Huber is one of the very few who writes about the history of tap and the many artists who play / played important roles in tap development & growth. She led the emotional 'Tap History Talks' while interviewing Ms. Petronio and adding her own personal insight.

    Video Presentation:
    Prof. Hank Smith
    • Hank Smith is a well known tap dancer, and collector of video & movie clips. He has an extensive library of material starting from the early days of tap dance. Hank presented some clips of Sarah Petronio and of her work, on film and video.

    Tap Exercises:
    Denise Caston, Prof. Clare O'Donnell, Germaine Salsberg, Avi Miller & Ofer Ben
    • Warm-up for each day with Denise Caston, Prof. Clare O'Donnell, Germaine Salsberg, Avi Miller & Ofer Ben, who led the afternoon / morning tap drills - each with his/her own unique teaching style.

    Participants Showcase:
    Germaine Salsberg
    • A happy event concluded the second day of classes in this exciting Sarah Petronio Tap Experience. Germaine Salsberg emceed an informal Participants Showcase at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in the presence of the 'Master Herself', Sarah Petronio.

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Tap Messengers
    L to R: Nicholas Young, Sarah Petronio & Carson Murphy.

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Sarah Petronio, Jimmy Slyde with Pianist Barry Harris
    photo by Karen Zebulon

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    L to R: Savion Glover, Sarah Petronio & Jimmy Slyde
    Performance in France

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Sarah Petronio with Gregory Hines at The Portland Tap Festival

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Sarah Petronio with Savion Glover at The Portland Tap Festival

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Sarah Petronio with Fayard Nicholas, "Chicago On Tap"

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    L to R: Sarah Petronio, Chuck Green, Ted Levy & Mark Mendonca
    "Chicago on Tap"

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    L to R: Sarah Petronio, Acia Gray & Dianne Walker
    Soul to Sole, Austin

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Sarah (Samuels) Petronio in Bombay

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Jazz festival in France with Gilles Perrin & Philippe Combelle

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Performance in Israel

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    with Brenda Bufalino - Performance in Israel

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    Sarah Petronio with Sharon Lavi
    "Grande Lecon" - Paris

    The Sarah Petronio Tap Experience
    "Grande Lecon" - Paris