Heather Cornell

Heather creates visual music ensembles where she functions as the percussionist. Her current project, “Making Music Dance”, (a multi-generational music ensemble), released their first CD in Nov. 2015.  They premiered their new show at St. Jax Sanctuary in Montreal, Canada and then Harbourfront Theatre in Toronto, Canada in spring, 2017.  “Finding Synesthesia”, commissioned by Southbank Center was the first dance ever at the London Jazz Festival, England. TapMotif in Lefkada, Greece was Heather’s laboratory for 8 seasons, where she trained free-thinking “bilingual” artists in music and dance. She has held her NY Intensive workshop since 1989, (now called her Tap Labs) where she has pioneered a style of teaching that was unique to the world of tap, co-teaching with musicians.  “CanTap”, featured Canada’s finest tap dancers and musicians for evenings of new approaches to improvisation.  As artistic director for Manhattan Tap, one of the busiest music/dance companies in the world in the 80’s and 90’s, Ms. Cornell was known as a mover and shaker of the tap dance renaissance.  She continues to win awards internationally in the music and dance worlds, most recently a national co-commission from New Music USA.  As a soloist, she performs full evenings internationally, including for a sold-out 1,200 seat crowd in Bogota, Colombia, where she performed an improvised evening with local musicians.  Her latest passion is the music and dance of Peru and she was the guest of honor at the First International Zap(ateo) Festival in Lima last year.

Heather trained directly with the first generation tap masters, and has taught and inspired four generations of tap dancers, musicians and actors internationally.   She was called “the Oscar Peterson of hoofing” (Globe and Mail, Toronto) and was the only tap dancer mentored by the infamous bassist, Ray Brown.  She is a pioneer of concert tap and, beginning in the mid 80’s, has led the scene in working with world music.   She choreographed  “The Play What I Wrote” for Broadway and was movement director for “Three Penny Opera” for Atalaya in Sevilla, Spain.

CD, Radio: Making Music Dance CD; WYNC’s live radio show, “Around New York” for 5 years.   

TV, Radio, Film:  “Thinking on Their Feet, Women of the Tap Renaissance” (Jenai Cutcher); “Gotta Move, Women in Tap” (Lynn Daly); ”“KQED special w. Honi Coles and the Jazz Tap Ensemble; “Gregory Hines’ Tap Dance in America” for PBS; Manhattan Tap featured special on “Sounds Impressive”, Winnipeg, Canada.

Awards: Hoofer’s Award (Tap City, 2015.; Juba! Award (CHRP, 2012); FloBert Award (NYC Tap Day, 2011); Tapestry Award (Boston, 2010); Legends of Tap (Vancouver, 2008). 


Heather is presently on faculty at Manhattanville College, NY and Capilano University, Vancouver, Canada, and received the “Distinguished Artist” award from Bergen Community College’s Music Department (Bergen, NY 2014)

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