The Maui Tap Experience Event Report / Review


By Carol Egan

Maui / Nov, 2010


Once again, thanks to the enormous energy and efforts of Becky Pelissero, founder and director of the Maui Tap Experience, and husband, G.J., Maui hosted another outstanding four day tap festival at the spacious Maui Arts & Cultural Center. In addition to classes ranging from Beginning to Advanced levels plus three Choreography classes and a Repertory workshop in which Jim Taylor taught a terrific Fred and Ginger routine, the week-end was rounded out with a Participants’ Showcase and a formal concert, Rhythmic Revolution, featuring faculty members Chloe Arnold, Jason Samuels Smith, Mark Mendonca and Yukiko Misumi, plus a select group of local dancers performing Indian Odissi, Caribbean/Hip-Hop Fusion and Flamenco dance.

In addition to Maui dancers and a smattering of tappers from the other islands, the festival attracted students from California, Oregon, Japan and Australia. Jesse Rasmussen from Sydney recently performed in “Tap Dogs” in London. Although he attended the festival as a student, his ability earned him a small cameo appearance on the festival’s Rhythmic Revolution.

Jesse was interested to find another Rasmussen at the festival. Glena Rasmussen from Jackson, Oregon, was attending the Maui festival for the second time. She stated the reason for the return visit succinctly when she said, “How much better can it get? To vacation in Hawai’i and get to study with some of the best tap teachers in the world at the same time!”

Melissa Cheu, a tap teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area, also returned for a second time. “It’s fabulous,” she said. “Tap dancing in Hawai’i! What else could you ask for? The studios are great, and I like the variety of teachers.” In addition to dancing several hours a day, Cheu, who teaches in San Carlos and Foster City, made the most of her visit by taking copious notes and videotaping many of the classes.

Among the emerging talents spotted on the Participants’ Showcase were Katie Istvan and Aaron Pardini. Istvan, a 17 year old 11th grader, has been dancing since the age of three. She began studying dance in Michigan and has continued on Maui, taking classes at Heart Dance and the Maui Academy of Performing Arts. The slim blonde aspires to be a Broadway dancer and appears ready and able to follow her dream.

Aaron Pardini, a lithe young man of 18, only began studying tap with Becky Pelissero a little over a year ago. He is now a student at Orange Coast College where he is working with Linda Sohl-Ellison. He was delighted to be able to jam with Jesse Rasmussen during the showcase. The entire faculty, seated on the sidelines, cheered them on.

Those of us who appreciate the hard work and considerable financial risk the Pelisseros take in putting on this event, can only hope they will be willing to repeat it in the future.