Margaret Morrison

Margaret Morrison is a rhythm tap soloist, choreographer, playwright, and researcher who teaches and performs across the United States, Europe and Brazil. In 2019 she will receive the Flo-Bert Life Achievement Award for her contributions to Tap. Margaret has been called “feather-footed and musically astute” by the New York Times, and has worked for over thirty years in multi-discipline collaborations with percussionists, poets, musicians, and dancers. Her current performance and writing projects explore race, gender, and social meaning in tap dance history. She wrote and starred in her first play, Home In Her Heart, an interracial lesbian love story, directed by Cheryl King. Margaret has toured as a tap soloist to Armenia, Romania, and Moscow, hosted by the US Embassy, has guest lectured at universities, and presents her research on women tap dancers at academic conferences. Dance Research Journal and Los Angeles Review of Books have published her research on tap. Her chapter, “Juanita Pitts: Race, Gender and the Female Hoofer” is forthcoming in the anthology Dancing the African Diaspora, edited by Thomas F. DeFrantz.

 

Performing: Margaret’s performing career began in 1986 when she became a founding member of the American Tap Dance Orchestra, directed by Brenda Bufalino. She toured internationally with the ATDO until 2001 and appeared on the acclaimed PBS-TV Special, Tap Dance in America with Gregory Hines. Margaret also tapped in a national commercial for Seagrams and is a co-creator of Pulsation and Wombapusi, all-women ensembles of tap, percussion, and poetry that performed at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, NYC’s PS 122 and the Nuyorican Poets Café. She frequently performs with her life partner, percussionist Robin Burdulis. Margaret created her first solo tap show in 1997 and in 2002 created “Body of Rhythm,” a collaboration with Jeannie Hill and Max Pollak, for which she was hailed as a "consummate artist who breaks the mold.” Since 2001 she has performed at Tap City, the New York City Tap Festival. Eva Yaa Asantawaa in Dance Magazine called Margaret  “a paragon of exacting control and cool theatricality.”  Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times has called Margaret an “exciting virtuoso dancer," and her choreography "a tour de force" and "the witty highlight of the evening." Margaret’s choreography is performed by professional and youth ensembles around the US and was featured at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall. In 2008, she added playwriting and acting to her creative process and has performed her plays at Stage Left Studio, Symphony Space, and other NYC venues.

Teaching:  Margaret is a popular master teacher and has taught at international festivals including Rio’s Tap Encontro and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. As Education Advisor of the American Tap Dance Foundation she is Co-Director of the Tap Teacher Trainings and coordinates ATDF training programs including Tap City - the New York City Tap Festival. She is a graduate of Barnard College and has taught in the Barnard Dance Department since 1997. Her courses include tap technique, Tap Ensemble, tap composition, and a history course "Tap as an American Art Form."

 

Training:  Margaret was born in Los Angeles. Her early training included ballet with Natalia Clare of Ballet La Jeunesse, and tap and jazz with Dean Barlow in Van Nuys. In her 20s she studied modern dance technique, improvisation, and composition at Barnard College with Cynthia Jean Cohen Bull (Cynthia Novack) and Janet Soares, and took advantage of the wealth of dance training in New York City: modern from June Finch and the Cunningham Studio, Contact Improvisation, clowning, West African dance forms, and percussion. She studied rhythm tap with Brenda Bufalino and all the great masters of the Tap Renaissance, including Jimmy Slyde, Sarah Petronio, Steve Condos, Honi Coles, Buster Brown, Cookie Cook, Lynn Dally, Chuck Green, and Gregory Hines. In 2010 she completed an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival, working with Thomas F. DeFrantz as her thesis advisor. She has studied acting with Carol Fox Prescott, Alexander Technique with Anne Waxman, voice with Birdey Rutkin, Pilates with Allison Easter, and writing with Cheryl King.

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