STARTING Friday, four generations of female tap dancers will descend upon UCLA to celebrate their contributions to the historically male-dominated field of tap over the last 100 years. And nothing exemplifies that spectrum of experience quite like Friday night’s lineup: a performance by the teenage tap prodigies of the Jazz Tap Ensemble’s Caravan Project to be immediately followed by the screening of a documentary about the Silver Belles, a group of former Apollo Theater chorus girls now in their 80s and 90s.

That generational juxtaposition thrills organizer Lynn Dally. Since tap’s resurgence in the late 1970s, “there have been presentations of women along the way,” says Dally, an adjunct professor in UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures program. “But the idea of having a conference where this many of the gifted women of all these generations are brought together to share with each other and share with the public what they’ve accomplished” is a first.

A central aim of the conference is to unearth stories of female tappers whose contributions have been neglected. Panel discussions and oral history workshops will highlight tap’s foremothers, while Saturday night’s concert will showcase 14 living legends, including Brenda Bufalino, Dianne “Ladi Di” Walker, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Dally…


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