BEDFORD — Tap sensation Aaron Tolson of Bedford is working on his newest venture in the world of dance, confident that New Hampshire is the perfect location to launch his new dance show.
Tapping since the age of 10, Tolson has become a celebrity tap dancer — using his skills on Broadway and at Radio City Musical Hall as he toured with Riverdance. He was also a company member of Manhattan Tap, formed the New England Tap Ensemble, was on faculty with Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center in New York City and is a brand ambassador for SoDanca.
“I have had a very fortunate career, and I have worked hard for it. I have been able to travel the world and perform,” Tolson said.
Now, Tolson has decided to produce his own show, “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The two-day event will include nine of the country’s most talented tap dancers, as well as three singers and a 10-piece band with musical director Jan Bordeleau of Bedford.
“I want to see if there is a way for me to make New Hampshire, kind of like politics, make New Hampshire become a launching pad for new artistic works,” he said.
The Broadway-style tap show will be performed at the Dana Center at St. Anselm College in April. Tolson is producing the show, and his business partner, friend and mentor, Derick Grant, also a world-renowned tap dancer, will direct the performance.
The show’s choreographer is Dormeshia, often referred to as the queen of tap, with assistance from Jason Samuels Smith, who runs the Los Angeles Tap Festival.
“We have many of the best tappers of this time,” said Tolson, founder of DNA Productions. “All of them are truly special, so every rehearsal is exciting and unique.”
The show’s music will be from the 1950s, and the dancing will include tap and swing.
“It is going to be a love story all told through dance, and there is going to be some really amazing tap dancing,” he said.
Tolson is hopeful that the show will be picked up for a possible tour. The ultimate goal is to share the art of tap dancing with today’s youth and provide entertainment unlike anything that has been seen in New Hampshire, he said. When Riverdance and Stomp were household names in the 1990s, tap was often taking center stage. Since then, contemporary dance has been a popular trend among television dance shows.
Now, Tolson said, dance competitions are beginning to experience more tap dancing routines, and its visibility is growing.
Still, Tolson acknowledges that tap, which came from African American culture, has a vastly different origin than classical ballet.
“Tap is an American-made art form rising up and trying to be equals, although it hasn’t been an easy ride,” he said.
New Hampshire is the perfect setting, and the Dana Center is the perfect backdrop to bring out an even livelier passion for tap, according to Tolson, who worked with Grant in 2006 on Imagine Tap!, a Chicago-based show.
With the new show now set to take the stage in April, the two men are eager to possibly share the performance at tap festivals throughout the world.
“It is not easy, but we know we can do it,” said Tolson, a dance instructor at The Boston Conservatory who is starting his fourth decade as a professional tap dancer.
The three shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. April 17, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 18 at the Dana Center.
Tickets are available at tickets.anselm.edu.