You’re joining me today for an interview with Mark Yonally, Artistic Director and founder of Chicago Tap Theatre. We’re talking about their coming Christmas show Tidings of Tap!, creative kids, and his best advice for anyone still on the journey of attaining their professional and creative goals.
I am honored to receive two complimentary tickets to see Tidings of Tap! to help get the word out about their show and am so excited to share that one lucky reader will win a family 4 pack of tickets for their December 10th show. Keep reading to find out how to win!
Interview with Mark Yonally
CHRISTINE: Hey Mark, thanks for taking a break from rehearsals to join us today.
MARK: No problem, I’m happy to chat with you and your readers.
For many, this is the first time “meeting” you. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Absolutely! I originally moved to Chicago to dance in a lovely tap dance company called Especially Tap Chicago (ETC). I loved the work but found that I was really motivated to start something new and different. I founded Chicago Tap Theatre 15 years ago with the dream of creating a tap dance company with the skills and reputation of the larger ballet and modern companies.
I love that. It’s so apparent that you are passionate about tap dance. What made you fall in love with it?
The ability to be both dancer and musician is what I love the most. Layer on top of that the opportunity to express emotions and tell stories, and I was hooked.
Tell us more about the vision/mission of your work.
Chicago Tap Theatre is always trying to find ways to surprise and delight our audiences. Whether it’s by a surprise appearance at Lollapalooza (with the Polyphonic Spree) or bringing a full marching band onstage or exploring complex, unexpected themes like time travel and grief, we are always trying to push the medium in new directions. This season we’ll be bringing tap back to the jazz club with two performances at City Winery, followed by a show dedicated to the music of Madonna in June.
But you have a show coming up much sooner than June!
Yes, Tidings of Tap! will be presented at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts on December 10.
What is your favorite part of this particular show?
I love the live music, for one thing. We perform exclusively to live music, and it makes all dance better, but especially tap. I also really dig that our Holiday dance show is so inclusive, and includes dances recognizing Hanukkah as well as Christmas. OH! And we have a Rhythmic Gymnast in this show who is AMAZING!!
That sounds incredible! My husband and I are really looking forward to the show.
I’m thrilled at how it is turning out. We are really proud of this one!
That’s fabulous! We’ll include more info at the end of the post for anyone interested in checking the show out for themselves.
I want to transition here for a moment toward creative kiddos. I’m a mom of three boys who definitely have shown some creative potential, and I know many of my readers are raising creative kids as well. What would you say to parents like us to help our kids find and hone their creative passion?
I would say that providing the tools for them to explore is a great start. Paint and canvas, dance shoes, instruments, whatever you can put in front of them to see what really gets their passion going.
So keep putting creative options in front of them and see what sticks?
Yes. I think giving them as much exposure to arts and culture as possible is HUGE, also. Go to one of the many world-class museums in Chicago. Go see as many dance companies as you can (I personally love a lot of the mid-size companies that are coming up in a big way, like Chicago Dance Crash, Inaside, and Nomi). Have them try a music class at Old Town School of Folk Music. Not only can you give them opportunities to come into contact with the arts, in Chicago they have access to some of the best arts and culture in the country.
That is so true, and I love what you said about Chicago. It’s easy to forget how incredibly blessed we are to live in a city that offers SO MANY ways to explore creativity.
It’s one of the best things about Chicago!
I’m really inspired by your story…how you saw a creative void that you were not only passionate about, but could fill, and have done so for the past fifteen years through Chicago Tap Theatre. You’re reaping the reward of years of hard creative work and living a dream that’s become reality. What encouragement would you offer to someone who has not yet attained their creative and professional goals?
The scary things are very often the ones worth doing the most (our time-travel exploration of love, loss and grief intimidated me to no end, AND ended up being our most critically-celebrated show). Look for opportunities to work with good people/organizations that can help you achieve more than you could on your own. Try to zero in on what YOU are bringing to your field/art/endeavor that is unique to you. There’s a strange conundrum, where the more specific you make something (a play, a painting, a song, a dance piece) the more universal it somehow becomes.
That’s so good. Be you. Be real. Be a team player. As artists these are things we know deep inside, but they are so easy to forget. Thank you for the reminder.
Also, remember that the more generous you can be with what you offer, whether it be your insight, tickets to a show, donating to other artists, etc. the more you will reap the benefits. There is definitely a cosmic balance that you can swing towards you, if you’re willing to make generosity your first position.
Excellent encouragement Mark. Thank you so much for taking time to sit down with us today! We wish you and Chicago Tap Theatre all the best!
Thanks so much! See you on the 10th!
More About Mark
Mark is currently the Artistic Director of Chicago Tap Theatre, one of the most critically well-regarded companies in Chicago. Mark has developed a national and international reputation as a performer, with solo performances in Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Amsterdam and Paris.
Mark has gained the plaudits of major dance critics for his innovative approach to tap choreography. He is a noted educator and has taught at festivals throughout the U.S. and has served on the faculty at Oklahoma City University and Hope College. Mark is sought after for his multidisciplinary approach to tap teaching, which includes history, basic music theory and an emphasis on jazz music, and has taught in France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. Mark is also a published author, with pieces appearing in Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine.
For a complete bio visit chicagotaptheatre.com.
Tidings of Tap!
Choreographed by Mark Yonally, Kirsten Uttich, Richard Ashworth, Valerie Lussac and Caleb Teacher, Tidings of Tap! is a warm and wondrous journey through Christmas, Chanukah and the winter season…with all live music! Chicago Tap Theatre’s new holiday tradition features rhythm and whimsy-filled interpretations of your favorite holiday songs during a fun yet sophisticated, family-friendly evening.
Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 3 p.m.
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts
9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL 60077
For tickets and info visit www.chicagotaptheatre.com.
The lovely folks at Chicago Tap Theatre have graciously offered to give one lucky reader a family four pack of tickets to see Tidings of Tap! on December 10th. To enter your name for a chance to win, leave a comment on this post with one of your favorite family holiday traditions.
Please keep the following contest rules in mind:
- One comment/entry per person who is able to attend the December 10th performance in Skokie, IL.
- Contest ends Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 7PM CST.
- Winner will be chosen by random.org, announced on Facebook, and notified by email on the 3rd. He/she will have until Monday, December 4, 2017 at 7PM CST to claim their prize.
- Chicago Tap Theatre is responsible for the fulfillment and delivery of the family four pack of tickets to see Tidings of Tap!
- A valid email address is required for the winner to receive their prize.