International Tap Dance Hall of Fame

 

The International Tap Dance Hall of Fame is the only tap dance hall of fame exclusively focused on tap dancers. It features founding and innovative

20th and 21st century professional tap dancers. With a collection of photographs, biographies, and videos, the Hall of Fame

is becoming a colorful and diverse retrospective of America's seminal tap dance personalities.

 

2019 - Dianne Walker is one of the most honored and beloved mastresses of tap dance, known for her elegant and fluid style of dancing that is delicate yet rhythmically complex. A pioneer in the resurgence of tap dancing in the 1980s, her thirty-year career spans Broadway, television, film, and international dance concerts. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, she began dancing at age seven with Mildred Kennedy (Bradic), a professional tap dancer with a successful performing career on the New England and New York vaudeville circuits who ran the Kennedy Dancing School in Boston.  In 1978, Walker was a twenty-seven-year-old mother of two, living in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, and working as a staff psychologist at Boston City Hospital, when she walked into the studio of the reknown tap master Leon Collins, soon after becoming his protégé; in 1982 she became one of the founding members of Collins & Company. After attending Jane Goldberg's By Word of Foot II (1982) festival in New York City, disappointed to see the paucity of black dancers, Walker returned to Boston with the intent of teaching and helping to revive jazz tap for the young black dancers, subsequently becoming a mentor to such talents as Derick Grant and Savion Glover. In 1985, Walker attended the International Tip Tap Festival in Rome, Italy, and performed Collins’ classic tap masterwork, Flight of the Bumblebee, to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, establishing herself as a premier tap soloist. In 1989 Walker was featured in Great Performances: Tap Dance in America, hosted by Gregory Hines, dancing a solo to the swinging up-tempo Latin “Perdido.” New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning later described her as “a tapper from whom steps and moves flow like music, she has an easy warmth of presence that makes her dancing incandescent.” That same year, Walker appeared as one of the Shim Sham Girls in the movie Tap!, starring Gregory Hines. Walker is considered the griot, the holder of the classical black rhythm “canon,” bestowed on her when she worked as principal dancer in the Paris production of Black and Blue, as well as principal and assistant choreographer in the Broadway production of Black and Blue, and will always be remembered for performing “Memories of You,” choreographed by Cholly Atkins. Directed by Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli, the show considered the quintessential black-rhythm tap musical of the century. Walker is the most sought after teaching artist in dozens of festivals nationally and internationally, and has been lauded with dozens of awards—- Boston’s Tapestry Award (1997), Oklahoma University’s Living Treasure Award (1998), the “Savion Glover Award for Keeping the Beat Alive” (2000), New York Tap Extravaganza’s Flo-Bert (2003), American Tap Foundation’s Hoofer Award (2004), Vancouver Tap Dance Society’s Rhythm Bound Award (2005), Flint Michigan’s Tapology Award (2006), and the Dance Magazine Award (2012), for her lifetime achievement in dance. She is considered by many female black tap dance artists as the transitional figure between the young generation of female dancers-- such as Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Germaine Ingram, Ayodele Casel-- and the “forgotten black mothers of tap,” such as Edith "Baby" Edwards, Jeni LeGon, Lois Miller, and Florence Covan. Lovingly nicknamed “Lady Di” and “Aunt Diane,” Walker is revered by now two generations of tap dancers who regard her as mentor, teacher and confidante.

Constance Valis Hill