Rakelle McWhirter

Rakelle McWhirter

Amy has trained and performed extensively in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Modern Contemporary & Lyrical Jazz from a very young age, and has been teaching and choreographing Tap full-time for 21 years throughout the Lower Mainland, Northern B.C. (Smithers) and annual Summer School programs on Vancouver Island. She has a long list of accomplishments and award-winning competitive performances in Canada and the U.S. In July of 2009, it was with great excitement that she and 22 of her students participated in the "New York City Tap Festival" where they trained with world-renowned Masters and by audition, were chosen to perform their award-winning routines "Off Broadway" to a sold-out theatre. That evening Amy was honoured with being chosen as the recipient of the "2009 NYC Tap Festival Outstanding Teacher/Choreographer Award" for her "Outstanding Dedication and Commitment to the Art of Tap Dancing". It is with great joy and pride that Amy was able to nourish her own heartfelt passion and love of Tap for many years amid her hectic schedule, to perform professionally as a member of Vancouver’s "Urban Tap Squad Company", throughout British Columbia and beyond. In September 2006 they showcased part of their tour show, "Urban Interludes" to sold-out audiences at The Vancouver Roundhouse.

Her "passion" for Tap leads her to train extensively each year (for the past 26 years) in advanced/accelerated workshops and festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada, attending "Tappin With The Masters 1993" in Portland Oregon, "The Seattle Tap Festival" – 1994, 1995, "Minneapolis Tap Festival" – 1998, successfully auditioned and was chosen to attend an exclusive Residency Workshop in NYC in 1999 with Heather Cornell Manhattan Tap,
"Minneapolis Legends of Tap" – 2000, "The Edge" in Los Angeles – 2002, "The New York City Tap Festival"/NY City – 2004, "Edmonton Tap Giants Festival" – 2005, "Maui Tap Festival" – 2006 & 2007, "The Chicago Human Rhythm Project" – 2007, "Tap City Tap Festival in NYC" – 2009, "Third Coast Rhythm Project in Texas" – 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, and "Tappin in the Twin Cities" (Minneapolis) – 2015.

All of these festivals have given her the priceless privilege to train with extraordinary historical world-renowned Tap Masters such as the late amazing legends of Tap – Jimmy Slyde, Harold Cromer, Cholly Atkins (Motown Choreographer), Robert Reed and Vancouver’s own, Jeni Legon. Amy has also been privileged to train numerous times with Heather Cornell (Manhattan Tap), Brenda Bufalino (American Tap Dance Orchestra), Dianne Walker ("Lady Di"), Skip Cunningham, Lane Alexander, Terry Brock, Jason Samuels, Lisa LaTouche, Bruce Stegman, Chester Whitmore, Leelah Petronio, Mark Mendonca, Johnson & Peters, Lynn Dally, Chloe Arnold, Grant Swift, Mark Yonally, Yukiko Sashimi ("Smiley"), Jimmy Payne, Acia Gray, Derick Grant, Tre Dumas and Nicole Hockenberry among many, many others.

In addition to her own passion for and dedication to ongoing training, Amy takes many of her students each year to Tap Festivals throughout the US to experience and learn from the same historical Tap Masters, and meet other students from around the world who share the same passion.

In 1998, Amy had the thrill of a lifetime, when she trained at the Minneapolis Tap Festival with "legend extraordinaire" Savion Glover and his brother Abron Glover (then performing on Broadway in "Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk"). She has also participated in the VTDS Tap Festival in Vancouver for 13 years and was privileged to perform in the 2003 VTDS Festival finale at the Vancouver Playhouse, "It’s About Time, It’s About Tap". Since its inception, Amy’s students are so honoured to perform in the International Tap Day celebration in honour of the birthday of the legendary "Father of Tap", Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

It is Amy’s desire to share with her students of all ages, her diversified training, technique, musicality and rhythm, and most of all, her genuine love and passion for Tap Dance. Her renowned and unique choreography comes from within her soul and captures the very essence of "Tap" and its beautiful rhythms speak to this beautiful and historical language. With her love of teaching children of all ages and adults, she foremost encourages fun and embracing the love and joy of "Tap", with patience and positivity. She teaches and encourages her students to “un-tap” the joy of this wonderful instrument and music within them and to truly hear and articulate their own "joyful noise".