At the young age of 14, when Anthony Morigerato started teaching dance to help pay for his own lessons in his hometown, Albany, New York, he quickly learned the worth of his dance education. “From the first class I taught, I understood the value of my training in dollars and cents and also in terms of the knowledge.” A part of that understanding included the importance of music in a dance curriculum.
Whether he’s choreographing for a student’s competition piece, a master class or at a festival, Morigerato, who holds the Guinness World Record for most taps in a minute at 1,163, approaches choosing music as a learning opportunity for young dancers. This means using the concept he’s teaching to dictate what kind of music to pick—not the other way around. “Let’s say the student has never danced to a jazz standard or never done a swing piece. I will deliberately pick a jazz standard that’s swing, to teach them the concept of swinging,” Morigerato says.
Photo courtesy of Break the Floor Productions
Exposing students to a variety of music genres—not just focusing on what’s popular—is a top priority within his teaching style. While teaching a class, he’ll sometimes opt out of playing traditional music altogether, using a metronome instead to emphasize holding a beat. “Using only pop songs because they’re fun and catchy is like allowing kids to eat ice cream all day without any nourishment.”
Morigerato isn’t afraid to acknowledge that tap, for many dance students, is not their favorite discipline. Incorporating stimulating music can be a valuable teaching tool to sway the reluctant tap student, a concept he continues to explore. “Maybe students can come away from the class thinking it was less about the steps and more about the musicality, keeping time and making music.”