40th Anniversary Blog Series: No 5. Heidi Schultz

No. 5: 40 Never Looked So Good: An interview with Heidi Schultz, JOMDC faculty since 1998, 40th Anniversary Faculty Honoree, and Founder/Director of JOMDC’s Adult Company Tappenstance!

It wasn’t just yesterday that JOMDC opened its doors – it was 40 years ago! We’ve held thousands of classes and taught hundreds of thousands of students. We’ve been fortunate to meet some amazing people over the years, and one of them is Heidi Schultz.  In addition to creating Tappening in 2001,  a DC-based rhythm tap company that has performed at venues like the Kennedy Center, Heidi and JOMDC started another rhythm tap company, Tappenstance, the organizations only Resident Adult Company. Tappenstance was created for intermediate-level adult dancers in 2010, and they perform in annual concerts throughout the region including the Holiday SpecTapular, and their own full length concert at the Jack Guidone Theater. Tappenstance performs in Motion Expressions concerts including the Seniors in Motion Concert each year. Heidi made her Broadway debut in 2008 at Lincoln Center as part of a tap chorus with the New York Philharmonic, performed with the DC-based Taps & Co. for many years, and has served as an adjunct professor at American University.  Today, you can find Heidi at our studios teaching invigorating rhythm tap classes for adults or rehearsing with Tappenstance!

  1. At what point did you realize that JOMDC would be a second home for you? Why did you first join JOMDC?

I always felt welcomed at JOMDC.  I was recruited to JOMDC by the outgoing tap teacher Nancy Newell.  JOMDC really became a home when I was allowed rehearsal time at the studios for my budding tap performance company Tappening. Sixteen years later, the company is still performing and JOMDC has also become the home to resident adult tap company Tappenstance.

2. Our mission is very clear – Dance is for Everyone. How has this mission impacted your teaching?

The mission of JOMDC is one of the reasons I fit so well with the organization and also why I have stayed for so long. I feel that people who don’t dance are missing out on social interactions and a better relationship with their body. You don’t have to dance on a stage or in a studio. We should all feel comfortable dancing somewhere, whether that’s in our home, at a club, at a wedding, or anywhere!  The JOMDC mission has heavily influenced my teaching over the years.  I have focused more on helping people have a positive experience dancing rather than simply learning how to dance.  

  1. Joy of Motion is turning 40 this year!  What is the greatest lesson getting older has taught you?

Getting older has taught me that I can’t get away without stretching anymore (tap dancers are notoriously bad about stretching).  But, I have also been better at accepting my limitations as a dancer and focusing on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.

  1. JOMDC is all about education and opportunity. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten more opportunities – after 40 years in the business the White House calls us now! What is the greatest opportunity you’ve received through JOMDC?

The biggest opportunity I’ve had at JOMDC is an ongoing one.  I’ve had the pleasure of introducing over a thousand different people to tap dance and the tap community through teaching and performing! I love to see people get hooked on tap and then run into my students at shows, tap jams, and classes. One of the best things about the larger tap community is that it is very inclusive and dancers of all levels are sincerely welcomed into the group.  I love bringing as many people as possible into the fold.

  1. Have you participated with our outreach classes or concerts? What was it like?

Tappenstance and Tappening have performed in outreach concerts several times and they are some of our favorites! “Seniors in Motion” is a big highlight for us.  We did our first show for residents of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in 2015, and we have already booked for the next one in 2016!  They asked the most informed questions about tap I’ve ever gotten from an audience.  I’m glad I knew enough tap history to answer them all!

  1. Tell us something about your performance at the gala! Will it have a disco theme with a disco ball?

Our performance will be court dance meets punk rock! What more could you want in a tap dance? It’s probably a good thing that we don’t have a disco ball in the piece since punk would dictate that we smash it.

  1. What is the best way to enjoy a disco dance party with cake and champagne?

Is that a rhetorical question?  As a non-drinker, I would ask for a double helping of cake.  I’d enjoy it with less disco music as I’m much more partial to the funk!

  1. If you’re over 40, care to share a bit about something new you have learned?

I was surprised to find that my strongest years as a dancer and choreographer came when I was older. We often think of dancers peaking at a very young age.  

Don’t miss the Tappenstance performance and Faculty Honors featuring Heidi Schultz on stage at the 40th Anniversary Gala Concert and Disco Dance Party on Friday, March 11, 2016, 7:30pm.

Join us on March 11, 2016, as we honor Heidi Schultz.

How has Heidi and tap dancing impacted your life? Leave her a comment below!