Ray Hesselink
November 1, 2015

Music for tap

Ray Hesselink is a huge fan of Hollywood’s MGM movie musicals. Their influence shows in his tap dancing. “My all-time idols are Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller. Those broads can turn,” he says. “Three years ago, Chet Walker hired me to do a show called Heat Wave (celebrating the choreography of Jack Cole). I re-created two Ann Miller numbers. I had to get into her body, and that was hard. She turns and changes directions on a dime.”

In his classes at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and Juilliard, Hesselink always incorporates a turning progression either in place or across the floor to challenge dancers’ alignment and efficiency. “I liken it to a toy top. The faster you go, the faster everything has to become underneath. Students need to minimize work to maximize the turning.” DT

Artist: Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey

Album: Swingin’ in Hollywood

“This is a collection of the Dorsey Brothers’ movie musical recordings. The music swings; orchestrations are full; it’s always exciting. I’ve choreographed to every number.”

Artist: Nat King Cole

Album: The Piano Style of Nat ‘King’ Cole

“This is just Nat on the piano, no vocals. This whole album will make you want to dance. You can tap to every song!”

Artist: Various

Album: Tambours du Monde (Drums of the World), Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

“To inspire new rhythms for exercises.”

Artist: Jack Costanzo

Album: The Versatile Mr. Bongo Plays Jazz, Afro & Latin

“Jack ‘Mr. Bongo’ Costanzo is great to tap to. If you want a Latin sound with your tap, this album is great. Also, find his version of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ on iTunes—unbelievable!”

Artist: Sammy Davis Jr.

Album: That’s All!

“This live recording is historic. So many great songs and tempos to play with. Check out some of Sammy’s collaborations with Count Basie, too.”

Photo courtesy of Ray Hesselink

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