Artistic Director: Barbara Phillips
Celebrating Our 18th Season
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The Ensemble provides an enrichment program in addition to your own studio classes. Dancers from across the city represent their schools, studios and community serving as ambassadors of American tap dance!
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San Antonio Based RPM Tap Ensemble Provides Opportunity For Young Hoofers To Work With Some Of The Most Renowned Tap Dance Masters & Choreographers From Around The Country. The Company Provides Educational, Leadership And Performance Opportunities, Exploring This Unique American Art Form And Its Musical Roots. RPM Youth Tap Ensemble Made Its Debut Performance At The Dallas National Tap Dance Day In Spring Of 2002.
The Company Has Appeared At Third Coast Rhythm Project, Soul To Sole Festival Showcase, And Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “Great American Youth Tap Ensembles Concert”. Select Members Traveled To China To Perform During The 5th Annual Beijing International Dance Festival, In December 2007. The Ensemble And Other Dancers Performed “JUBA! Masters Of Tap,” Before An Audience Of 2,900 People In The Historic Beijing Exhibition Hall. The China Performing Arts Agency And The Ministry Of Culture Extended This Invitation To The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) To Organize This Tap Extravaganza.
They Have Enjoyed A Collaboration With Austin’s “Visions In Rhythm” And Have Been Guest Artists Appearing In “Everything On Tap” In Dallas, Black History Month Celebrations In San Antonio, And “Tribute To A Legend”, Honoring Arthur Duncan At Radius In 2007. RPM Presented Their First Solo Concert In May 2003, Celebrating National Tap Dance Day, And Now Host The Annual Event Collaborating With Youth And Adult Ensembles From Across The State.
The Company’s Diverse Repertoire Includes Works By Tap Masters Lane Alexander, Acia Gray, Steve Zee, Dianne Walker, Nicole Hockenberry, Jason Samuels Smith, Heather Cornell, Barbara Phillips, Jason Janas, Lisa La Touche, Travis Knights, Tasha Lawson, Derick Grant, Jay Fagan, Michelle Dorrance, Harold Cromer, Ayodele Casel, Keith Terry, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, STEP AFRIKA, And The Legendary Buster Brown And Honi Coles.
The Company Is Dedicated To The Legacy Of The Masters, Creating New Innovative Works, And Passing It On To The Next Generation. Preserving, Sharing, And Celebrating The Universal Language Of Rhythm!
Praise for RPM Tap Ensemble
…The Standout, However, Was RPM Youth Tap Ensemble From San Antonio…. Their Sense Of Rhythm And Volume Was Complete And Clean, And The Synchronization Smart. The Dancers Advertised Their Enjoyment, While Their Ease Spoke For Itself.
~The Dallas Morning News
RPM Youth Tap Ensemble Offered Wonderful Ensemble Work In “Cool” From “West Side Story”. They Were An Ebullient Reminder Of The [Festival’s] Goal To Pass On This Unique American Art Form To The Next Generation.
~The San Antonio Express News
…They Were Totally Present Physically And Mentally,Which Made The Audience Love Them All The More…
~The San Antonio Express News
RPM Has Been A Wonderful Opportunity For Our Daughter. She Has Had The Opportunity To Learn Tap From Outstanding Professionals And Wonderful Performers. RPM Has Provided Her With The Opportunity To Collaborate With Talented Performers From Across The Country And In Texas. Barbara Has Built A Positive And Collaborative Environment For Dancers Of All Ages To Flourish. At Third Coast, Dancers Experience A Talented, Friendly Staff Who Are Genuinely Interested In Helping All Individuals Reach Their Dreams. Thank You So Much For Being The Beacon Of Light In Our Lives.
2018 – 2019 Dancers
Assistant Rehearsal Director
Keaton is a multi-disciplined dancer and performer with an extensive background in ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, and rhythm tap. Keaton began dancing at the age of three, but most notably are her several years of tutelage under the direction of Barbara Phillips. Through dancing with RPM Youth Tap Ensemble since 2007, Keaton has studied with inspirational professionals including Dianne Walker, Sam Weber, Lane Alexander, Nicole Hockenberry, Tasha Lawson, Martin “Tre” Dumas, Derick Grant, Lisa La Touche, Nicholas Young, Michelle Dorrance and many others. Recently, Keaton has come full circle with the privilege of serving as the Assistant Director of RPM Tap Ensemble. Through serving as an instructor, Keaton enjoys passing on the traditions of tap to the next generation in studios including that of Third Coast Rhythm Project and San Antonio Dance Academy since 2016. Newly, Keaton has been developing herself as a choreographer where she has had the opportunity to present award-winning works across the state of Texas.
In 2012, Keaton was selected by Michelle Dorrance as an understudy in Dorrance’s suite that was performed in JUBA! Masters of American Tap Dance presented by Chicago Human Rhythm Project at the Eisenhower Theater in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Keaton was the first recipient of the Rhythmic Souls Tap Scholarship awarded through the Dance Council of North Texas in 2012. In 2014, Keaton was also awarded the Buster Cooper Tap Scholarship through the Dance Council of North Texas. Keaton has appeared in numerous concerts and events including Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s JUBA! at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Third Coast Rhythm Project’s Jazzed on Tap, Sole to Soul’s Participant Showcase, Houston’s Space City Tap Festival’s Showcase, and as a soloist in the Dance Council of North Texas’ Before-the-Show Show.
Keaton currently attends the University of Texas at San Antonio where she will be graduating in Spring 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology. Keaton is also a 2015 Traditional Terry Scholar, recognizing her among some of the best and brightest well-rounded scholars in the state of Texas. In her future, she hopes to pursue a career in Psychology as well as continue creating and passing on the traditions and history of tap dance to the next generation.
Shelby Atherton tap dances her way through part of everyday – just for the fun of it. A native of San Antonio, her early dance education began at age three with the study of ballet, jazz, and tap. By first grade, tap became her favorite dance style though she trains in ballet as well. She is one of the founding dancers of the St. Luke’s Episcopal School dance program, under the direction of Paula Gorman. In St. Luke’s program, she performed as a soloist as well as in group tap and ballet routines. Additionally, Miss Atherton acted as an assistant tap instructor for St. Luke’s younger dancers. Beyond the dance studio, Miss Atherton is very involved with her school activities, like National Honor Society, and academic life at the International School of the Americas where she is a senior. This year, she was selected to be the Event Coordinator for Model United Nations San Antonio, the largest student-run Model UN conference in the nation with over 1,200 participants. For the past two years, Shelby has volunteered as a Teen Art Guide at the McNay Art Museum. Miss Atherton intends to study international relations when she begins college next year. This year marks Miss Atherton’s seventh of dancing with the RPM Tap Ensemble. She is very grateful for every opportunity to learn from and perform with tap masters. She appreciates and thanks Barbara Phillips and the talented group of dancers that embody RPM for all her tap dancing opportunities.
John is an 18-year-old multidisciplinary musician and dancer, focusing on tap. In addition to studying tap through Third Coast Rhythm Project and dancing with RPM under the direction of Barbara Phillips, John currently studies tap and ballet, and previously jazz and hip-hop, at Earle Cobb Dance Studio under the direction of Dena Mabry. He is also an Instrumental Music major at the North East School of the Arts in San Antonio.
John started dancing in San Antonio at age 4 and quickly demonstrated a passion for tap. Raised in a military family, he continued dancing and performing with each move the family made throughout the world. In Alabama, he studied dance at the Kelly School of Dance where he learned to tap “Gene Kelly style” under the direction of Kathy Burk. From 2008-2013 John won numerous awards and scholarships at regional and national dance competitions and conventions in the Southeast, including being named “Mr. Pre-Teen Solo Starmaker” in Myrtle Beach, SC, in June 2013 for his first-place performance of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” John has studied hip-hop with Vince Johnson in Dothan, AL, and has attended many convention classes throughout the country learning jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap, lyrical, and contemporary styles of dance from many notable professionals in the field.
John has aused his vocal, acting and dancing talents in three productions with the Missoula Children’s Theater— “Jungle Book,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Wiz of the West.” In 6th grade, John won the lead role of Mowgli in his school’s performance of “Disney Kids’ The Jungle Book.” John has also performed as a soloist at several civic functions by request in Alabama and in Texas. In 2011, John participated in the Orange Bowl half-time show and worked with choreographer Bonnie Story to back the Goo-Goo Dolls.
John has returned to San Antonio and hopes to further develop his tap dancing skills while pursuing his talents in instrumental music. John is an all-around musician with a keen sense of rhythm who sees tap as another instrument to be used in his repertoire which includes nylon string and electric guitars, saxophone, cajon, and piano. John is a senior Instrumental Music major at the North East School of the Arts as a classical guitarist and saxophonist and has performed at all musical concerts and musical theater productions. He works with the orchestra, using the saxophone in the place of an oboe. He is an avid composer with works for guitar, tap and piano under his belt.
John wants to perform and create as much as he can. When not dancing or playing for NESA productions, John spends his time furthering his instrumental technique and personal artistic choices and stretching what concepts can be applied to each art form.
Elise Hernandez is an accomplished dancer, visual artist, musician, and programmer, who was born and raised in San Antonio. Her first style of dance was flamenco, when she was three years old. By the age of five she had switched her focus to ballet, which she would continue to pursue for eleven years. During this time, she also studied many other styles of dance; primarily tap, but also including jazz, modern, and musical theater. She attended the Ballet Austin Summer Intensive in 2006, 2007, and 2009.
Elise started playing clarinet in sixth grade, and spent all four years of high school as a member of the award-winning Ronald Reagan High School Marching and Concert Band. As a member of the marching band, she was a finalist at the the Bands of America Grand National Championships in 2012.
Her final year of high school, Elise started pursuing visual art academically for the first time. She entered two pieces in the Visual Art Scholastic Event State Competition 2013, and received a Gold Seal (highest award) for oil painting, and Division 1 ratings for both the oil painting and a chalk pastel drawing. She also participated in Southwest School of Art’s Teen Painting Intensive. She is a gifted visual artist, versed in painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, and graphic design, and able to produce both representational and abstract work.
Elise graduated Cum Laude from Reagan High School in 2013, and was a National Merit Semifinalist, a National Hispanic Scholar, and an AP Scholar. She went on to study Computer Science and Studio Art at Southwestern University, where she was selected as a Mood Scholar. At SU, she served as president of the computer science club/Association for Computing Machinery, and worked as both a writer and photographer for the Megaphone, the student newspaper, and participated in several other student organizations. She is capable in several programming languages and technological spheres.
Elise now lives and works in San Antonio, and focuses her creative energy on tap dance and visual art. She began taking classes with Barbara Phillips in 2015, and participated in the Third Coast Rhythm Project festival and joined RPM in 2016.
Julianne’s dancing experience began at the early age of five. A native Californian, with the love for dance began to flourish at the West Coast School of the Arts in Southern California where she trained with some of the top Los Angeles instructors/choreographers such as Amy Bates-Nakamura, Mark Meismer, Tina D’Amato, Dawni Novak, and Paula Kessinger. Her foundation in rhythm tap is attributed to Nancy Kindorf and Christy Hernandez. Julianne continued with the opportunity to train and perform in an industrial choreographed by Keith Cliftion.
After moving to Texas in 2002, Julianne joined RPM Youth Tap Ensemble under the direction of Barbara Phillips. She continued to train and professionally perform with many tap masters such as Lane Alexander, Acia Gray, Jason Janas, Derick Grant, Nicole Hockenberry, Jay Fagan, Dianne Walker, Martin “Tre” Dumas, Sam Weber, Tasha Lawson, and tap legends Fayard Nicholas, Harold Cromer, and Buster Cooper. Julianne has since spent many years participating in concerts and events including Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s JUBA! Luminaria Contemporary Art Festival, Sole to Soul participant showcase, and Third Coast Rhythm Festival Showcase. Including travel to Beijing, China to perform at the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival.
Julianne graduated from Dallas Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Business, Recording. Upon returning to San Antonio, she is sharing her dance experience, and talent as a member of RPM. Alongside dance, Julianne is exploring other interests. Upon graduating she worked as an executive assistance for US Ambassador, Sichan Siv. Currently, she is working as a Client Support Specialist for Linebarger Goggan Blair & Simpson LLP.
Larissa Pfahning is 14 years old and is an 9th grader at Smithson valley high school. She is an A honor roll student who was a part of her schools National Junior Honor Society. She has played the viola in her schools’ orchestra for 4 years. She is active in her church youth group and community projects.
Larissa’s passion for music and dance started when she was 3 years old. Her parents enrolled her into her first dance class at Pat Riddle Dance Studio in Colleyville Texas. She joined American Dance Company (ADC) in Spring Branch Texas at the age of 9. A year after joining the studio she was asked to join their competitive dance team. During her last year at ADC she had the honor to choregraph a tap piece for one of the tap classes in their end of year recital; along with assisting and substituting for her tap teacher.
She has competed in numerous competitions like Starbound, Showstoppers, Dance Archy, ACT1, and VIP. By the age of 13 she competed with her first tap solo to Mr. Bojangles Jump & Jive on a stair case where she took 4th place overall. Her dance background includes tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop.
Larissa was introduced into the world of tap with Third Coast Rhythm Project by her former tap instructor who recommended she attend the Third Coast Rhythm Tap Festival. While at the Festival she had the honor of taking instruction under the inspirational professionals including, Dianne Walker, Martin “Tre” Dumas, Karissa Royster, Lane Alexander, Sarah Savelli, Jay Fagan, Nicole Hockenberry, Lisa La Touche, Derrick Grant. She has now been dancing with Third Coast Rhythm Project under the instruction of Barbara Phillips since August of 2017 and became a member of RPM under the instructions of Barbara Phillips in January 2018.
Larissa has always had a passion for tap as she has always dreamed of being a Radio City Rockette when she is older. She is honored to be joining RPM as she feels this will help further her knowledge of tap to further her dream of becoming a professional tap dancer.
Presley is an 8th grader born and raised in San Antonio,Texas. She pursues her dance at Earl Cobb Dance Studio participating in tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and pointe. She started dancing at the age of 2 quickly falling in love with the intricacy of the sport. She started competing at the of age 7. She also enjoys assisting classes and being an influence on her students.
Outside of dance she attends Eisenhower Middle School.She partakes in athletics enjoying basketball, volleyball and track. She has the greatest honor of winning the 5 star general award and being an ambassador at her school she looks forward to attending The North East School of the Arts majoring in dance.
After attending Third Coast Tap Festival several summers, she auditioned for RPM. She can’t wait to continue her journey.
Mallory is 12 years old. She is a sixth grader at St. Mary’s School in Fredericksburg. She is an A Honor Roll student and won the local National Geographic Geography Bee in 2017. She represented St. Mary’s at the regional Catholic Spelling Competition in 2018. She is a member of the volleyball team at St. Mary’s and also plays Select volleyball with NextLevel volleyball.
Mallory began her journey in dance at Ms. Rhonda’s School of Dance in Fredericksburg at the age of 4. She joined Fredericksburg Dance Company at the age of 6 and began dancing competitively at that time. She performed her first competitive tap solo at age 7. She choreographed her solo for FDC’s Christmas Celebration in 2015. She has won numerous dance competitions, both tap division titles and overall championships. She continues to dance competitively with FDC. Mallory was selected as a Miss Encore National Finalist for 2016. She has had the honor of performing at the national Slide Solo Showcase in Long Beach, California in 2015 and 2016. She was a feature dancer in FDC’s tap versions of the Twelve Days of Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas in 2016. She portrayed Clara in the FDC production of The Nutcracker in 2017.
Tap is truly Mallory’s passion. She has attended conventions, tap intensives and competitions across the United States. She has had the opportunity to study under Mike Minery, Anthony Morigerato, Jeremy Arnold, Jason Janas and Ayodele Casel. Her solo routine for the 2017-18 dance season was choreographed by Jason Janas. Her solo routine for the 2018-19 dance season is choreographed by Jeremy Arnold. She is both excited and grateful to join RPM and study under Barbara Phillips.