Tapestry Dance Company, one of Austin’s most iconic arts institutions, welcomed five new dancers from across the country this season. Jeremy Arnold, a Philadelphia native who went on to dance professionally in the Big Apple, is one of the newest, talented addition. Don’t Miss Tapestry Dance’s latest show Soul/Sole Connections, October 31 through November 2 at the Long Center.
I asked my mother for ‘tappy shoes’ after seeing Savion Glover on Sesame Street at age two and a half. A few weeks later I was wearing a hilariously small pair of patent leather tap shoes and ruining all the hardwood floors in our Philadelphia home. Twenty three years later I haven’t stopped ruining floors. I guess that I knew at a fairly young age that I would never be a 9-to-5-suit-and-tie kind of guy. I’m pretty certain this is partly because of my family’s unintentional stand against traditional gender norms: my father is a violinist, my mother is a lawyer, my sister is a three-sport athlete, and naturally I’m a dancer.
I didn’t realize until late in high school that pursuing dance after high school could be a viable — albeit probably not incredibly lucrative — career choice. My final year in high school I commuted to New York City on weekends to train with the Tap City Youth Ensemble, working with some of the best tap dancers in the world — Michelle Dorrance, Brenda Bufalino, and, Derick Grant. That experience made me realize, ‘I need to tap dance, like as a job, dude.’ So, I went to Muhlenberg College to train under Shelley Oliver. I joined Shelley’s professional company my freshman year and toured the Northeast performing with the Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers and Dave Leonhardt Jazz Group. The gigs were incredible experiences and taught me so much about being a performer: how to interact with a band, how to have fun with your audience, what drinks to order after a show, and how to keep calm if your bus catches on fire on the way to Buffalo (really).
After graduating in 2012 I decided to move to New York. It was the logical choice. Nowhere else in the world has such a critical mass of tap dancers to work and train with. It’s also the most moronic and unrealistic place in the world to live. Rent is obscenely expensive and it seems like just breathing costs money. I found myself in a perpetual cycle of working to pay my rent. I was leaving the city to teach tap in the tri-state area and spending less time training and rehearsing. I love teaching but not as much as dancing. I didn’t want to become a full-time dance teacher at that point in my career.
While performing in the Fusebox Festival in Austin this past April with Charles O. Anderson’s Dance Theater X, I took a class with Acia Gray at Tapestry.
I’d always known about Tapestry but I never really considered it seriously before this year because why would a twenty-something Jewish guy move to Texas? I mean, aren’t there guns and Republicans everywhere? Acia contacted me this past summer about a position with her company, the only full-time tap dance company in North America. The offer was too good to refuse. Rehearsals nine to two Monday through Friday, performances every few months, and I’m earning a salary wearing sweatpants. And tappy shoes!
Don’t Miss Tapestry Dance’s latest show Soul/Sole Connections, October 31 through November 2 at the Long Center.