Demi Remick was born to be a tap dance sensation. At 3 years old, she began dancing at Broadway North Dance Studio in Belmont, New Hampshire. Though she trained in all styles, it was immediately clear she had a natural talent and passion for tap dance as she trained with tap dancer Aaron Tolson. “It just clicked for me,” says Remick. “Obviously, there are always things to work on, but it always felt like I was meant to do it.” Tolson took her as a young student to see Imagine Tap! at the Harris Theater in Chicago. There, she saw Michelle Dorrance perform for the first time and decided the artform was what she wanted to do with her life.
By 9 years old, Remick was ready to take her training to the next level. Her mom began driving her two hours into Boston so she could work with various tap experts like Pam Raff and Josh Hilberman. Pam was a student of Leon Collins and taught Remick some of his traditional dances. “They were great dancers and dance teachers, and I learned a lot from them,” says Remick. By the time she was 15, she was ready for something different. Around the same time, Remick assisted Dorrance at a few tap festivals, and her life changed forever. “Michelle told me if I moved to New York I could join [her] company [Dorrance Dance],” she says. “So I did.”
Remick lived alone in a women’s residence in Manhattan for three years while she danced with the company and finished high school online. “My mom would come check on me once a month,” she says. Then Remick decided she wanted to go to college and began tackling a dance degree at SUNY Purchase. “I tried to juggle both the company and college for a while, but eventually Michelle told me to focus on school.”
After graduating, Remick began touring the world with Postmodern Jukebox, a rotating musical collective known for its viral YouTube videos. Her part in the show is to tap an improvisational solo with the live band behind her. (Check out her most viral video with the group below.)
Here, Remick shares the most helpful correction she’s ever received, the biggest turning point in her training, and her most influential teacher.
The most helpful correction she’s ever received “Barbara Duffy is the best improvisation tap teacher. She says, ‘If you can’t scat it and sing it, odds are you’re not going to be able to dance it.’ So she would make me live-scat what I was musically playing as I improvised. I make students do it now and they hate it. If your tapping is fuzzy, the band won’t be able to hear it. Scatting provides clarity.”
The biggest turning point in her training “When Michelle gave me that opportunity [to join Dorrance Dance], it not only gave me confidence, but showed every director I’ve worked with since then that they can have confidence in me too. Her stamp of approval allowed me to have a thousand other opportunities down the road. It was a great professional experience at a very young age, and I’m grateful to her for it.”
Her most influential teacher “Josh Hilberman was my childhood mentor [who] took me from a talented tap dancing kid to someone who really cares about the music. He would make me memorize standards and entire musical solos. Then we would work on the pieces way slower than I wanted to. When you’re naturally good at something you tend to glaze over stuff, but he wouldn’t let me. He made me do it over and over again.”
Her advice for educators in 2023 “Remind your students that the other dancers in their classes and workshops at this age are going to be their web of professional relations in the future. I see the same dancers I grew up dancing with at tap festivals all the time. People hire who they trust with their creative process—people hire their friends. Make good friends.”
Her goals for the future “I would love to continue choreographing on my own company: Demi Remick & Dancers. We have presented a lot in NYC, but my goal for 2023 is [to perform at] Jacob’s Pillow. I’ve been dancing on my own for a while now, and I would love to dance with other tap dancers. I would also love to do someone else’s work to learn and feel inspired.”