Soul to Sole Faculty
2020 Tapestry / S2S Alumni Faculty
Dianne “Lady Di” Walker, a pioneer in tap dancing’s resurgence, has a 40-year career spanning Broadway, Television, Film and International Jazz Concerts and Tap Festivals. Savion Glover and his contemporaries affectionately call her, “Aunt Dianne,” acknowledging her unique role as mentor, teacher and confidante. Dianne performed in both the original Paris Production of Black and Blue as well as the Broadway Production, where she was a featured dancer, dance captain and assistant to the directors. Film credits include the movie Tap, the PBS special, Great Performances: Tap Dance in America, JUBA! (WTTW), and Songs Unwritten. Dianne has been dubbed the “Ella Fitzgerald” of Tap Dance. For two years, Dianne directed the Tap Program at Jacobs Pillow and is presently Artistic Advisor to the Program. Holding a Master’s degree in Education, Dianne has taught at numerous universities including Harvard, MIT, Wesleyan, Bates, UCLA, and Williams College. Dianne is a participant on many educational task forces and sits on numerous boards throughout the dance community. In 1998, Dianne received the “Living Treasure in American Dance” Award from Oklahoma City University, The Flo-Bert Award (NYC), The Hoofers Award (NYC), The Gregory Hines Humanitarian Award (Los Angeles), and was the 2008 USA Rose Fellow. Most recently, Dianne received the prestigious Dance Magazine Award, presented at the Alvin Ailey School in New York, adding to a long line of awards and lifetime tributes recognizing her contribution to the art form and excellence in teaching. Grant awards include The National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Jacobs Pillow, The New England Foundation for the Arts, and American Masterpieces Program. Dianne has been generously mentored by many musicians and Tap dance legends throughout her career, notably Leon Collins and Jimmy Slyde. Dianne has worked with Savion Glover, Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Honi Coles, Cholly Atkins, Tina Pratt, Barry Harris, Max Roach, Alan Dawson, Major Holley, Ruth Brown, Nicholas Brothers, Peg Leg Bates, Arthur Duncan, and many others. Leon Collins passed away in l985, leaving Dianne to continue as one of the Directors of his school in Boston. It is with a great sense of pride that she continues to share this rich legacy with her students.
As a soloist, choreographer and master teacher, Ms. Gray has toured extensively across the U.S. and abroad as a tap dancer and in 1989 co-founded Tapestry Dance Company in Austin, TX with Deirdre Strand and currently serves as Producing Artistic Director & Artistic Director of The Soul to Sole Tap Festival. A graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts/NYC, Ms. Gray has shared the stage with Lon Chaney, Chuck Green, Steve Condos, Brenda Bufalino, Donald O’Connor, Fayard Nicholas, Buster Brown, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde, Sarah Petronio, Dianne Walker and many others in such productions as The Great Tap Reunion, Tap Do/Wop, Just Friends, Masters of Tap, Chicago on Tap and Women in Tap at UCLA. She was chosen to work with legend Charles ‘Honi’ Coles in America’s first creative residency for tap at The Colorado Dance Festival and again with Jimmy Slyde and was featured in the documentary A Class Act: The Magic of Honi Coles. She was a founding member and Managing Director of the touring company Austin on Tap, served on the Steering Committee of The International Tap Association and served as its director from 2008-2018 and was also a featured soloist in the Dance Magazine Calendar. She has also danced, choreographed and taught for Columbia College, The University of Texas, The Colorado Dance Festival, International Summer School/Cyprus, Dance Masters of America, TASIS/London, Tanzsommer/Austria, The St. Louis Tap Festival, The Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Tap City / NYC, Le Festival De Danse Encore, RIFF, OC Tap Festival and many others. Her book The Souls of Your Feet – A Tap Dance Guide for Rhythm Explorers has been translated in the Czech Republic and China and has been an Amazon.com Bestseller in its category since 1998. Her numerous awards include the “Hoofer Award” by The New York City Tap Festival and honored as a premiere member of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. She was nominated for a Princess Grace Award, acknowledged at the 2018 DanceUSA Conference. Ms. Gray has received numerous "Best Of" awards by the Critics Table in Austin and her work The Souls of Our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance was chosen as an NEA American Masterpiece production and toured throughout the US, Canada, and China from 2009-2012. She can also be seen in the documentaries Tap or Die, Thinking on Their Feet - Women of the Tap Renaissance and Passing it Forward produced by PBS. Ms. Gray is also proud to be a 2019 Austin Creative Alliance Honoree.
Nicole B. Hockenberry, a Pennsylvania native, has been tap dancing professionally for over 20 years. She became a performing member of A&G Dance in 1991, under the artistic direction of Germaine Salsberg, and Manhattan Tap in 1992, under the artistic direction of Heather Cornell. She is the founder and director of TAP: Teach All People, which she operated from 1995 to 2006 and relaunched with her husband, Mark, in 2013. Nicole has taught and performed with organizations across the country, including the New York Foundation for the Arts, the St. Louis Tap Festival, Soul to Sole (Austin), Columbus Taps, and Third Coast Rhythm Project (San Antonio). Her choreography has been commissioned by numerous tap companies, including RPM (San Antonio), Tap Ties (Allentown), and In Motion (Chester, N.J.). Nicole spent twelve years as an adjunct professor of dance at Cedar Crest College (Allentown) and three years as a Master Lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Nicole and Mark also operate Crafty Nicole (www.craftynicole.com), an online custom-designed clay charm and pendant business that services the international tap community.
Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Tasha Lawson’s diverse background and passion for dance makes her a sought after educator, choreographer, director, and performer. Tasha is a graduate of Grant MacEwan's Dance Teacher Training and Dance Performance programs. Tasha continued her studies in Vancouver at Simon Fraser University, while working as a multi-form dancer, performing with collectives and independent modern dance choreographers, including Donna Redlick Dance and Rhonda Cooper. She then met Dianne Walker, who inspired her to relocate to New York, where she furthered her training in tap and body percussion with acclaimed artists, such as Roxanne Butterfly, Max Pollak, Heather Cornell, Brenda Bufalino, and Keith Terry. From 2002-2008, Tasha performed and toured with Tapestry Dance Company based in Austin, Texas, where she had the privilege of working with many legendary tap artists. She was nominated for “Best Dancer” by the Austin Critics Table Awards in 2007 for her performance in Acia Gray’s, The Souls of Our Feet - A Celebration to American Tap Dance. During this time, Tasha also directed six new full-length concert works for Tapestry’s pre-apprentice company, Visions In Rhythm. Tasha has performed and taught at international festivals across Canada, the United States, Europe, and South America. She has been an “artist-in-residence” at Capilano University and a faculty member for the inaugural tap residency program at Jacob’s Pillow, under the direction of Dianne Walker. Tasha has taught body music classes in Las Vegas for Cirque Du Soleil, and toured with Cirque, as Assistant Artistic Director for Kooza, in the US and Japan in 2010-2011. Currently, Tasha Lawson is the Artistic Director of Tri-Tone Productions and Tri-Tone Rhythm Ensemble, training youth to pre-professional dancers. The ensemble focuses on integrating the arts, both locally and globally, into the greater
community and providing a solid foundation for emerging artists to pursue a professional career in dance. Tasha is also the founder and AD of Calgary’s Rhythm, Body and Soul Festival, a four-day event that celebrates, preserves, and promotes tap dance though education and concert presentation. She is delighted to be returning to Austin for Soul to Sole and Tapestry’s 30th Anniversary celebration.
Jason Janas is originally from New Jersey. He began his tap dance instruction under Ms. Deborah Mitchell and was the first charter member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble. He then found a love for the dance and continued to learn and study the art form. He also trained and was a member of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble under the direction of Gene Medler. His first professional company after high school was Tapestry Dance Company in Austin TX, under the direction of Acia Gray. He was a principal dancer there for 5 years. His hard work ethic began to take notice and Derick Grant invited Jason to be in his show Imagine Tap! which ran for 6 weeks in Chicago, and changed his life. His other show credits include The Souls of Our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance (among others) with Tapestry Dance Company, Wonderland with Sara Savelli and Ayodele Casel, and co-choreographed and was featured in Tap Stars with Rasta Thomas. He has taught at tap festivals in New Jersey, Chicago, New York, L.A., Charlotte, Austin, San Antonio, Vancouver, Zurich, Curitiba (Brazil), Moscow, and Barcelona! Jason is currently the resident tap instructor for Radix Dance Convention and co-founder of The Foundation House in Detroit with his beautiful wife Bianca.
Matthew Shields is a tap dancer, a born and raised Canadian an avid fly fisherman. Over his many years abroad, Shields has been involved in numerous productions, companies, performances, residencies, events, and fundraisers and has traveled to teach and perform as a tap dancer globally. Based in Austin, Texas. Shields is currently in residence with gypsy jazz band SCRAPELLI at the famous Tamale House on E 6th Street and at Radio Coffee and Beer. Shields is the Artistic Director of Hyperfeet Productions and HYPE (Hyperfeet Youth Performance Ensemble) in Austin as well as Artistic Director of Leap TAP Ensemble in Katy, Texas. Shields has appeared with Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox at The Mirage in Las Vegas, at SunFest in West Palm Beach, Fl, in Sardinia, Italy, the 2019 US winter as well as fall tours. For over a decade, Shields was a principal dancer with Tapestry Dance Company and was an original cast member for the company's national and international tours of The Souls of our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance as well as many other productions throughout his tenure. He also served as Interim Artistic Director of TDC in his final year with the company. Shields quickly become a crowd favorite with the regional ZACH Theatre in Austin, Tx. Appearing in the award-winning productions of Singing in the Rain, Mary Poppins & in Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies that starred Jennifer Holiday. Shields has won Austin Critics Table Awards & a B. Iden Payne award for his work at ZACH. Shields has directed many productions including A Chronological Life Story Of A Few Tap Dancers, the restaging of Tapestry productions of April Fools; Of Mice & Music as well as the premiere of XXV, Sound Crash Wave a tap dance expression, TV Music Mixtape & Get Hip Get Hype, Rhythm Lives and In Good Time. Additional performance credits include Toronto and Edmonton International Jazz Festivals, The Edmonton Fringe Festival and Feats Festival of Dance, L’International Festival Le Danse Encore, Quebec, Canada with Tapestry. Tap Dance Days & The Tap Ahead Festival in Dusseldorf, Germany. Vancouver International Tap Festival, Soul 2 Sole & Chicago Human Rhythm Project.
Siobhan joined Tapestry Dance Company, under the direction of Acia Gray, as an apprentice at 19 years old. Since 2007, she has continued to work her way through the ranks of the company and has performed over 23 original evening-length shows in the Rollins Theater at The Long Center. She also was fortuitous to earn a role in the cast of the NEA American Masterpieces production of The Souls Of Our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance. She toured with this production for four years to Canada, throughout the United States, then finally to the east coast of China in 2011. In 2012 she joined the cast of A Chronological Life Story of a Few Tap Dancers at The Vancouver International Tap Festival, under the direction of Matthew Shields, and was elated to join the faculty of Montreal Tap Festival as a demonstrator for Arthur Duncan. Additionally, she acted as Dance Captain for Rhythm Lives, under the direction of Matt Shields. The following year she returned to Montreal as a faculty member and soloist as well as The Toronto Rhythm Initiative under the direction of Allison Toffan (2014), Soul to Sole International Tap Festival under the direction of Acia Gray (2014-2019). She has performed in Tapestry and as a soloist, judged, and taught at DansEncore International Dance Festival, in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, under the direction of Claire Mayer (2011-2019). In 2015, Siobhan received an Austin Critics’ Table Award as "Best Dancer In Austin." Siobhan also appeared in Thelonious in NYC, a tribute show to Thelonious Monk, under the direction of Parisian tap legend, Sarah Petronio. Siobhan is currently the Artistic Director of Visions in Motion, Tapestry’s nonprofessional Adult Dance Company. She completed her 11th season as a Principal Dancer and her fifth season as the Dance Captain of Tapestry Dance Company this past season. Siobhan is currently returning to school to become a Dance Trauma Therapist and is pursuing a career in public speaking to inspire individuals to revitalize their lives after facing adversity.
Tony Merriwether was initially inspired during an in-school outreach program conducted by Acia Gray and her company, Tapestry Dance Company (TDC), of Austin, TX. Tony grew through the ranks of Tapestry, beginning in the Academy and the company's pre-apprentice training program, Visions In Rhythm (VIR). As a member of VIR, his performance credits include Lane Alexander's Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Acia Gray's Soul to Sole Festival, Barbara Phillips’ Third Coast Rhythm Project, as well as the productions of VIR. Throughout his training, he has had the honor of working with inspirational master artists such as Derick Grant, Jason Samuels Smith, Jason Janas, Fayard Nicholas, Harold "Stumpy" Cromer, and many others. As a result of his hard work, love, and dedication to the art form, Tony auditioned and was accepted into Tapestry Dance Company. This brought him to the company's national touring show, The Souls of Our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance where Tony was given the privilege of performing alongside masters Dianne Walker, Sarah Petronio, and Arthur Duncan, known from the Lawrence Welk Show. Among many Tapestry original productions, Tony also performed in Sarah Petronio's Tribute to Jimmy Slyde at the New York City Tap Festival in Ayodele Casel's and Sarah Savelli's production of Wonderland a tap tribute to Stevie Wonder and Thank You, Gregory, a tribute to the late Gregory Hines. He is currently the Artistic Director of True Sound Rhythm Productions.
Katelyn Harris has been performing, choreographing, and instructing around the nation for the past 15 years. After receiving a well-rounded dance education from schools around the country, and teaching and choreographing in every genre, Katelyn found her niche in tap dance when she joined the Austin-based Tapestry Dance Company in 2006. She was a principal dancer with Tapestry from 2006-2010 and toured internationally with the company's production of The Souls of Our Feet - A Celebration of American Tap Dance. Performing tribute dances in the roles of Eleanor Powell, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and many other famous tap dancers, she fell in love with the art form. Katelyn performed in numerous original works throughout her tenure and was nominated for Best Dancer by the Austin Critics Table awards for her roles in The Souls of Our Feet (2008) and Ears Wide Open (2010). Katelyn has toured with Rhythmic Circus’ production of Holiday Shuffle been on faculty for Little Rock Tap Festival, Third Coast Rhythm Project, Rhythm Body & Soul Festival, SYNCOPATE, One Rhythm Dance Convention, and Co-Founded Rhythm In Fusion Festival: RIFF in 2015. Her innovative, contemporary tap choreography has won numerous awards and honors on the local and national level. In 2015, she was selected by the Dallas Observer to be one of six Observer "Masterminds" for her role in promoting and sharing tap dance in Dallas. Katelyn is currently the Director of Rhythmic Souls Tap Company and is spearheading a movement to put tap dance in Dallas on the map through new creative projects and collaborations with fellow artists!
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Adriana Ray danced with Tapestry Dance Company directed by Acia Gray performing both locally and internationally. Credits include Voices of Rhythm, Time, April Fools, and The Souls of Our Feet- A Celebration of American Tap Dance China Tour among others. She has also performed with Tri-Tone Productions, Ballet Afrique Contemporary Ballet, Third Coast Contemporary, Sundays on Tap, SOLE Defined, and as a soloist. Adriana takes great pride in sharing her love for tap dance and has taught for the Space City Tap Fest, True Sound Rhythm Festival, The Beat Dance Convention, Tap Love Tour, Beantown Tap Festival (Boston), and in various dance studios and schools across the country. She is a Member of Texas Association Teachers of Dancing, Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), and an alumna of the Tap Program at the School at Jacob’s Pillow directed by Dianne Walker. Adriana holds a Masters in Arts Administration and currently lives in Washington, DC where she works as Programs Manager for Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.
Jeremy Arnold is an MFA candidate in Dance and Social Justice at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his B.A. cum laude, from Muhlenberg College in 2012. He is a graduate of the tap program at Jacobs pillow under the direction of Michelle Dorrance and is a former member of the nationally touring Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers and Chloe Arnold’s Apt 33. Jeremy was a principal dancer with Tapestry Dance Company from 2014-2017 and has danced with Charles O Anderson's Dance Theatre X since 2012. He has worked as a lecturer on the faculty of the University of Texas Dance Department teaching classes in rhythm tap, jazz dance, composition, and music theory since 2015. Jeremy tours nationally with Revive Dance Convention and the National Dance Honors. He has has served on the faculty of Riff, the Soul 2 Sole Festival, True Sound Rhythm Festival, Dance Olympus/Dance America, Dance Masters of America, DanZa, and the Cecchetti Council of America. Third Coast Rhythm Project, Tap Ties, and McLennan College have all commissioned his work.