After 20 years of formal and informal dance training, Stefanie discovered her specific passion for the American vernacular art form of Rhythm and Jazz Tap dance in 1997 at Indiana University in Bloomington with Allana Radecki. She went on that same year to become a scholarship student at the professional training school at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, MA. In the Jazz Traditions Program she studied intensively with award-winning artistic directors Danny Buraczeski (Jazz Dance), Billy Siegenfeld (Jump Rhythm Jazz), Vicki Adams Willis (Calgary’s Decidedly Jazz Danceworks), and tap master Lane Alexander (Chicago Human Rhythm Project).
On her way out west Stefanie was cut short when learning that tap legends Dianne “Lady Di” Walker and Jimmy Slyde would be leading a year-long Jazz Tap residency based out of her birth-town of Pittsfield, MA. She remained East, blossoming where she was planted, becoming initiated into a clan of keepers that were giving their bodies and souls to keeping the Dance alive. Receiving a lively mentorship with Dianne Walker and having secrets of the shuffle whispered in her ears via jazz clubs with Jimmy Slyde, Stefanie stepped up to the plate to co-lead for five years an organization based solely on the vibrancy of Jazz Tap. T.A.P.- Totally Artistic Percussion was born in 1998 as a teaching and performing group dedicated to outreach. According to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s education direction J.R. Glover, Stefanie along with partners Stefan Harris and Sherry Haines-Salerno, succeeded in bringing, “the awareness and love for Jazz Tap in Berkshire County to greater heights than ever imagined.”
Becoming a part of the global Tap Dance community, Stefanie travelled to various festivals, jam sessions, and showcases taking part as a student, choreographer and performer. Finding herself deeply embedded in the roots of a rhythmic story, she reached outward and tasted the fruits of this ripe percussive-dance tree in New York, St. Louis, New Orleans, Cuba, Barcelona, San Francisco, Boston, Austin, and Montreal. Gaining scholarships for professional development with Heather Cornell of Manhattan Tap and in Austin, TX at the Soul to Sole Festival, Stefanie gained experience from some of the most notable tap company leaders. Finding her niche to be collaboration with various instrumentalists, Stefanie has continued to develop herself as a dancing percussionist choosing her style to be one of grace, experimentation and musicality.
Stefanie has sought Tap Dance as a form of expression that links her to a story of America in which it’s characters speak truth to power in the most creative of ways.
Dancers Stefanie has had the pleasure to learn from, sometimes befriend and always be inspired by: Dianne Walker, Jimmy Slyde, Lane Alexander, Allana Radecki, Sharon Arslanian, Claire O’Donnell, Wyatt Jackson, Heather Cornell, Buster Brown, Ted Levy, Josh Hilberman, Pamela Raff, Levaughn Robinson, Cholly Atkins, Savion Glover, Roxane Butterfly, Max Pollak, Rod Ferrone, Brenda Buffalino, Guillem Alonso…
…and including her tap dancing companions of past and present: Stefan Harris, Sherry Haines-Salerno, Rose Sinclair, Suzanne Bouffard, Jill Braverman, and Shannon Sullivan.
Some of Stefanie’s collaborating musical conversationalists past and present include: Aimee Gelinas (conga, djembe, voice), Deb Reed (riq), Hollie Marron (riq, tar), Nana Simopoulos (didgeridoo, sitar, bizouki, electronica), Caryn Heilman (tar, daf), Brian Bender (trombone, melodica, piano), Mike Fahn (valve trombone), Charlie Tokarz (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Marafanyi Percussion- Lara Gonzalez and Yael Shachem (djembe, djun djun), Maryann McSweeny (bass), Conor Meehan (drums), John Sauer (piano), Paul Arslanian (piano), Frederique Trunk (piano), Jay Schulties (drums), Tristan Sullivan (drums), Nick Thabit (drums)