At 6’8″, Ryan P. Casey looks more suited for the basketball court than the stage. But his keen ear for the rhythms of words and the rhythms of dance has launched his career as a talented writer who is “fast becoming recognized as one of the top tap dance soloists in the country.”*
Like many dancers of my generation, I was inspired to make rhythms at a young age after seeing Savion Glover tap dance on Sesame Street. It’s amazing to think how something as seemingly insignificant as a children’s television program appearance was the catalyst for so many careers. Equally astounding was that, while my mother had moved to Lexington, Massachusetts, to take advantage of its reputed school system, little did I know that I was also living just miles from one of the best dancing schools in New England. After a year of dance at the local recreation center, I enrolled at The Dance Inn, directed by the woman who would progressively become my teacher, mentor, collaborator, friend and second mother: Thelma Goldberg.
At five years old, I began studying tap and jazz, later expanding my interests to ballet, hip hop and modern. Soon, I joined the studio’s pre-professional performance company, the Legacy Dance Company, where I remained for seven years.
It was through Legacy that I had the pleasure and privilege of working with such great instructors and choreographers as Brenda Bufalino, Heather Cornell, Michelle Dorrance, Barbara Duffy, Sean Fielder, Derick K. Grant, Adrienne Hawkins, Josh Hilberman, Jeannie Hill, Jimmy Locust, Drika Overton, Jason Samuels Smith, Sarah Petronio, Sue Ronson and Dianne Walker.
I was also profoundly inspired by the Jump Rhythm Jazz technique of Billy Siegenfeld, which I continue to study and disseminate amongst my students as a cornerstone of rhythm tap dancing.
Honing my skills as a tap soloist and ensemble performer under the tutelage of Goldberg and Kelly Kaleta, I began performing throughout New York and Boston, including Tap City, the New York City Tap Festival at the Joyce Theater and Duke on 42nd Street; Tappy Holidays! at Symphony Space; Deval Patrick’s Art Champion Artists’ Ball in Boston; The Dance for World Community Festival in Harvard Square; and Tapestry, Thelma’s annual celebration of National Tap Dance Day.
In high school, I was recruited by Riverdance veteran Aaron Tolson as a founding member of the New England Tap Ensemble. During my tenure as Dance Captain, the company performed annually at the Beantown Tapfest, as well as several original shows at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, NH and the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA.
I have performed solo work on stages and television programs throughout New England, as well as New York, Baltimore, Miami, and Alberta, Canada. In 2009, I was a recipient of a Young Arts scholarship and nominated as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. I was also featured on an episode of the sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance. In 2010, I was an inaugural member of the tap program at the prestigious School at Jacob’s Pillow.
I recently became a founding member of Dorrance Dance, a New York City-based tap company founded and directed by STOMP veteran Michelle Dorrance. In addition to a series of sold-out shows at Danspace (NYC), we have appeared to critical acclaim at Jacob’s Pillow, the Beantown Tapfest, the Regent Theatre, and The Pulse on Tour Gala in NYC, among other venues.
I am presently an undergraduate student at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where I am exploring my interests in journalism, literature and education.
As a freelance journalist, I have been published nationally on CNN.com and in Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher, and Dance Studio Life.
I continue to teach tap throughout the east coast and am committed to inculcating in my students the three tenets of dance I learned from Thelma: keep dance alive in the community; share the joy of dance with others; and always strive to be the best dancer that you can be.
*The Arlington Advocate, November 2008