Faculty

Our festival offers some of the best professional tap dancers in the industry! 

Classes will be capped for a quality learning environment.

Don't miss out on having the opportunity of taking classes from these leading teachers, artists and performers in the tap industry!

Register for this year's festival: June 9-12, 2022

Below is this year's faculty.

We look forward to having all of them here with us in St. Cloud, Minnesota!

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Aleksandr Ostanin

Aleksandr started tap dancing at the age of 10. During his career he has become a 4 time World Champion!  (2 times is Solo, once in Duo and once in small group).  

  • 2008 Aleksandr became the Winner of Ukraines, 1st season of So You Think You Can Dance. 

  • 2017 Aleksandr won the IDO-Gala Show (Bill Fowler Cup) against All Styles World Champions.  

  • 2018, Aleksandr was Performing in Disneyland (Orlando, Florida). 

  • 2018 & 2019 he was also a coach of the USA National Tap Dance Team. 

  • 2019 he was in the top 10 boys of USA, season 16 So You Think You Can Dance.

 

He has danced in shows such as Tap Reloaded, Wings of Rigolo, and Tap United.

 

Besides a dancing career, he is the founder and director of Odessa Tap Festival.  He also runs a Dance Studio in the city of Odessa, Ukraine.  Aleksandr has taught masterclasses and has set choreography for many countries such as; Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, USA, and England.

 

Aleksandr is now living and working in Boston, MA at Nancy Chippendale's Dance Studio. 


Aaron Tolson

A New Hampshire native, Aaron started dancing at the age of ten. At 14 the tap prodigy was invited to perform in the Great Tap Reunion at the Apollo Theatre alongside tap legends Derick Grant, Savion Glover, and Gregory Hines, as well as the rest of the cast of the movie TAP! 

During his senior year he successfully auditioned for the New York Shakespeare Festival tap program, also known as Funk U! Soon Aaron became a company member of Manhattan Tap. Jumping feet-first into choreography, he landed a job with Absolut in a national tour titled Absolut Tap! Soon after, Aaron accepted a role in the national and international tours of Riverdance. He was a featured soloist and captain of the tap dancers for six years as he performed on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall, on various TV shows, at NBA games, and on stages the world over. In 2006 Aaron began working with longtime friend Derick Grant on Imagine Tap!, a Chicago-based show whose formation would become the subject of a feature-length documentary, titled Tap or Die. As a faculty member at The Boston Conservatory and Plymouth State University, Aaron choreographed, produced and directed Something to Tap About, Tapped, Tapped In and Inspired, all featuring performers from his own New England Tap Ensemble.

Aaron formed New England Tap Ensemble, a non-profit organization, in May of 2007 to promote the art of tap in the community while fostering a sense of individuality in a professional artist. From Montana to Moscow, Aaron has performed and taught at numerous festivals including LA Tap Festival, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Beantown Tap Fest, Tap United, Tampa Bay Tap Festival, Tap Kids, Brazil International Tap Festival and FeetxFeet. Other favorite performances include Brookline Chorus’ Duke Ellington Sacred Concert, The Late Show with Liam O’Conner in Ireland, and playing Drosselmeyer in Clara’s Dream in A Jazz Nutcracker. Aaron was on faculty with Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center in New York City and is the director of The Intensive. In addition, he is the national spokesperson for SoDanca, and the Director of Speaking In Taps, a pre-professional youth company that is entering its 7th season. In 2017, Aaron resumed teaching at The Boston Conservatory, and remains a dedicated faculty member today. He also hosts his own TV show, The Aaron Tolson Entertainment and Variety Show, showcasing talent in the New England Area. All of this while continuing to travel and share his love for the art of tap dance. 

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Ashley Gonzalez

Ashley began her training under the direction of Chloe Arnold, Ricci Milan, Sarah Reich and Aaron Williams growing and exploring in the art form. 

 

Ashley sings in addition to tap dancing, teaching, and choreographing. She was a member of Chloe and Maud Arnold’s No Filter Sole Talk youth tap company, American Tap Company, and the Minnesota Dance Ensemble.

 

Ashley performs with Rhythm Street Movement in Waking Up, Humbug, and various driveway tours. She has performed at the 2018 Governors Ball Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, the 2018 MLBA All Star Pre Party Concert in Washington DC.  Ashley performed at the Voices of the People Welcome Celebration for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. She performed in the Disney Newsies Broadway Musical at the University of Northwestern. In addition to this, Ashley has performed and competed internationally, receiving a bronze medal for her tap solo at the IDO World Performing Arts Cup in Seoul, South Korea. She also received a bronze medal at Dance World Cup Championships in Offenburg, Germany for a tap duet.

 

Along with her tap education, training, and performing, Ashley was chosen to represent the state of Minnesota as a tap dancer in the book Dance Across the USA by Jonathon Givens. Another honor she has been given was when she was chosen with a select few to sing with the Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in 2018 in New York City. Some additional performances consist of Rejuv Medical Summit, Angel Foundation Charity event and National Tap Dance Day to name a few.

Charles Renato

Charles Renato was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At 14 he began teaching tap dance that lead to him win awards all over Brazil. He has won awards for Best Dancer at the Joinville Dance Festival and the TV Globo challenge show (2009 & 2010).               

 

In 2008 Charles joined the cast of "Sinatra Blue Eyes" the musical in Lisbon, Portugal. Renato was also a member of the "KS Tap Company. Charles moved to USA in 2013 and since then he has been working all over the world teaching in festivals and workshops. Croatia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Ukraine, Germany, UK, Ireland, Italy are some of the places that he has been to. He was also a member of the company Apt 33 directed by Chloe Arnold and performed with Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance. He’s part of the faculty at Broadway Dance Center and Metropolitan School of the Art. Currently Charles is Artist Resident at American Tap Dance Foundation and the director of his company CHR PROJECT.

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Tré Dumas

Tré is a tap dancer and choreographer from Chicago, IL. He received most of his early dance training and his first teaching experience at Tommy Sutton's Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts on Chicago's south side. He’s a Graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. in Mass Media Arts with a concentration in Speech and Theatre Arts.

From 1998-2000, Tré was featured in the North American and European tours of "Riverdance." In 2001 Mr. Dumas partnered with Bril Barrett to create M.A.D.D. Rhythms, and the M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy. From September 2001-February 2002, Tré lived in Stuttgart, Germany, creating an all ages/all levels tap program at the New York City Dance School, and performing at jazz and R&B clubs by night. In 2004 he performed Duke Ellington's classic, "David Danced Before the Lord" with Bill Russo, Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. In 2011, Mr. Dumas proudly debuted his first full production featuring Jus'LisTeN entitled, "Tap Like Water" as part of the annual Dance Chicago festival's feature performance series. Tré has taught and performed extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Germany as well as other parts of Europe, Asia and South America. 

Ricci Milan

Ricci Milan attended Larkin Dance Studio here in the Twin Cities for 12 years. He then did the “New York Thing” for a year. In that time he performed tap and hip-hop dance for the NBA, PBS, Compaq Computers, choreographer showcases, botmisfas, the NCAA final four, on subway platforms, and he worked with award winning recording artist “Mya”. Ricci also taught competion kids in New Jersey and joined up with some guys to create the original cast of “Break the Floor”.

 

He than did the “L.A. Thing” for 9 months where he street performed with “10 foot 5” to pay the bills while he was coming up short at 100’s of industry auditions. Ricci fell out of love with LA. so he drove to South Carolina.  After a year at a family theater in Myrtle Beach (Gaylord Productions) and a year in Tokyo (Tokyo Disney Sea) he moved home to Minneapolis.  He rejoined with “10 foot 5” and they recharged and rebranded with the 2004 debut of the internationally acclaimed “Buckets and Tap Shoes”.

 

In 2008 he turned his focus to the creation of a passion project that he named, Rhythmic Circus. The company’s show was called “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!” In that same year he started a career as a dance competition choreographer, and began hosting events for Hall of Fame Dance Challenge. 

In his tenure with Rhythmic Circus, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” he completed 8 national tours, 4 international tours and performed a successful broadway run at the New Victory theater in time square.  Ricci also broke ground on a new company named “Rhythm Street Movement”. The company has produced promotional content for TORO Corporation, and in December of 2018 a new holiday show entitled “Who Brought the Humbug?”.

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Naomi Funaki

After completing high school in Japan, Naomi went to New York in 2016 to further her career in tap dance. She started out in the International Independent Study Program of Steps on Broadway 2016 training under Derick Grant, Barbara Duffy and Lynn Schwab. In 2017, Naomi auditioned and got selected for Jacob’s Pillow as a student of the tap dance program. At Jacob’s Pillow she was under the instruction of tap dancers like Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards amongst others. After the Jacob’s Pillow Tap dance program, with more advanced tap-dancing skills, Naomi got selected to be a working professional dancer of Caleb Teicher & Company with performances at Union Square Park NYC in the summer of 2017. Since then, she has been dancing with the company. In the fall of the same year, she did a solo performance at the Apollo theater NYC. She also got to dance as an ensemble member for “Raising the Bar” of the Tap Family Reunion 2018 directed by Dormeshia Sumbry, Derick Grant and Jason Samuels Smith.

In May 2018 Naomi became a debut member of Dorrance Dance second company led by Michelle Dorrance. She performed with Dorrance Dance for Nutcracker as a guest artist at the Joyce Theater. She also met Ayodele Casel early 2019 while working as a swing dancer for City Center ON THE MOVE tour. She performed on stage with Ayodele Casel and Star Dixon for “Dance Against Cancer”, choreographed by Ayodele Casel. In October 2019, she reunited with Ayodele Casel for the “Ayodele Casel + Arturo O’Farrill” show at the Joyce theater NYC. The show was nominated for the Best highlight of 2019 by the New York Times. Naomi is also a company member of the Music from The Sole led by Leonardo Sandoval and Gregory Richardson.

Naomi currently resides in New York City where she continues to work on various tap dance projects.

Chris Rutledge

Chris started his dance training at 19 in Alabama, by the renowned Lisa Lyndon. He has training in Tap, Jazz, and Ballet, but his Professional Career is mainly TapDance and Body Percussion. Chris has Co-choreographed/performed in tap shows for both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland. He also helped co-write, co-produce, and co-choreograph performances and full length stage shows, for the leading step/body percussion group MOLODI(mo.lah.dee), out of Las Vegas. He choreographed and was featured in a body percussion number for Italian pop star, Tiziano Ferro, called ‘Per Dono’, for his world tour.  

‘Hines/Pollock’ is an award winning Performance Art act he created in 2010 as ‘the TapArtist’, where paintings are made by tap dancing in paint, on a canvas! He wrote a full stage show called FootPrints of a TapDancer, which was seen with his company theFYVgroup, around LA and in the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Chris is a premier performer in the new Holiday Tap Show based out of Minneapolis, MN called “Who Brought The Humbug!?”

 

In the summer of 2019, he spent 4 months in Turkey with All Stars Entertainment for a 5-Star Resort touring show as a performer.  He has been a judge/instructor for over 10 years with companies such as DEA, Dance Olympus, Canadian Dance Teachers Association, Starquest, Dance Talent Challenge, and Spotlight! For 20 years, Chris has been sought-after internationally as an instructor and choreographer for competition, concert, and film purposes. Chris is extra excited about his new position as TapMaster at the world famous Columbia Performing Arts Center, where he will add his style and technique to an already stellar faculty. 

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Robin Passmore

Robin Passmore has devoted her life to the art of tap dancing. Her love for performing has led her to perform in New York City, and Las Vegas, where she was dance captain for the closing act of Opium, at the Cosmopolitan. You can see her dance in the movie, Spirited, alongside Ryan Reynolds and Will Farrell, performing the choreography of Chloe Arnold and assistant choreographers, Ava Bernstine-Mitchell and Martha Nichols. She was the dance captain of Chloe Arnold’s Apartment 33 and she has performed with Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies, on stage and in a Ted Talk. In 2018 and 2021, she performed and taught at the UK Tapfest in London. Robin was a cast member of Jared Grimes’ Broadway Underground.  Robin has performed at the Lincoln Center, for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala, and Summer at the Lincoln Center. She participated in preproduction workshops for the new 42nd Street. Before the pandemic, she was honored to guest perform with Black Violin at the Academy of Music. She has also appeared in several Sesame Street segments and on Good Morning, America. Robin travels North America, teaching master classes, setting choreography, and judging.

Melissa Tannús

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