– Not only for the young, but the young at heart too –
If you’ve heard a tap-tap-tap sound around the Kingwood and Atascocita areas, don’t worry – you are not crazy. The tapping sound is emanating from the Kingwood Tappers. This group has been happily dancing for nearly 20 years since the group formed in 1999. Currently, 10 lovely ladies gather every Friday at the Rowland Ballard Dance Studio in Atascocita to hone their craft.
Susan Chambers-Cilie teaches the tap class. She has been a dance teacher for over 30 years, with 22 of those years spent at Rowland Ballard.
“I look forward to that Friday class every week,” Chambers-Cilie said. Longtime members of the group include Lynne Haley and Betsy Larabee. “They’ve been here longer than I have!” Chambers-Cilie said. Haley even participated in the studio’s early “Nutcracker” performances.
Cammy Bryce has been in the group since her youngest child was 3 years old. Now, her daughter is in high school. Bryce says the group is amazing and that she has enjoyed it so much. Last year the group’s scrapbook was destroyed in the Harvey flood. Bryce painstakingly recreated the scrapbook, going back to 2000 to get pictures and mementos. She even went back to the original photographer who still had copies of the pictures. Bryce presented it as a gift to the group at the end of last year.
“Bless Cammy’s heart for tracking all of this down and putting this new scrapbook together,” Chambers-Cilie said.
The group began performing at veterans’ centers and Lone Star College-Kingwood many years ago. Then they performed at Rosemont Assisted Living, where Chambers-Cilie’s mother lived.
“My mom loved tap dance. She would watch our performances at Rosemont and I could see her toes tapping,” Chambers-Cilie said.
Each year they’ve performed at more and more locations as the news spreads across the area that these ladies put on quite a show. This year they will perform every weekend in December at various assisted living centers. However, the first weekend in December is reserved for Rowland Ballard’s annual “Nutcracker” performance. There are matinee and evening performances Dec. 1 and 2. All performances are at Atascocita High School.
Amy O’Bryant has been in the group for a while now, too. Bryce kept trying to convince her to join the group, and she is glad that she did.
“We have so many generations represented in our group – ladies in their 20s and on up to grandmothers,” O’Bryant said.
She said tap is fun and that it is never too late to start. Chambers-Cilie echoed that, saying that it is great exercise and a great way to get physically stronger and to stay mentally active. There are free tap classes at the Kingwood Community Center, so interested parties can start there, learn a few basics and then join the Kingwood Tappers’ Friday class.
“In fact, we just had our newest member go this route. A couple of years ago, she saw our recital and wanted to learn how to tap. Now she’s part of our Friday group,” O’Bryant said.
The group performs at Kingwood Town Center festivals and at the annual spring recital at Rowland Ballard. They used to be at the bottom of the program, but they are so entertaining, they’ve moved up to being one of the first few performances at the recital. Younger girls from the DanceWorx class have joined the Tappers. Now, the two groups often perform together.
Chambers-Cilie said that going to the assisted living centers is a great experience for her younger students. She requires the kids to make handmade Christmas cards for the residents, and it is also great for them to be exposed to music from the Big Band era – music they would not normally listen to.
“One of our students came up to me last year and said that she thought a lady was sleeping in her wheelchair, but when the music and tapping started, the lady’s eyes opened and she began tapping along!” Chambers-Cilie exclaimed.
She said that the Tappers have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“It has been such a pleasure to watch these ladies progress. It’s nice to see them come to class each week to spend an hour for themselves.”