Tap Dogs: From garage gang to New York headliner

"Tap Dogs" is the epitome of tap dancing. This originally all male cast has brought tap to the attention of millions with their joyful, witty, and powerful performances. Performed in nearly 330 cities world wide, the glitz and glamour of the stage is far removed from the industrial city of Newcastle, Australia where the show’s concept is rooted.

As a kid, Dein Perry learned to tap in a garage behind his instructor’s house along with several of his friends “the Dogs.” However, none of them initially pursued a career in dance. At 17, Perry worked as an industrial mechanic. Later, everything from the costuming to the sets would be influenced from this experience.

After moving to Sydney, Perry found work in productions such as the long-lived 42nd Street. Using a government grant, he formed the group "Tap Brothers" with “the Dogs.” This project secured him the show Hot Shoe Shuffle and earned him his first Olivier Award in 1995. It was during this time Perry met Nigel Triffitt who would later become the director and designer of Tap Dogs.

"Tap Dogs" premiered in January of 1995 at the Sydney Theatre Festival where it became an instant sensation. It performed at the Edinburgh Festival later that year where it was again a smash hit. Perry earned his second Olivier Award in 1996 for his choreography.

The show was choreographed as an 80 minute non-stop tap-athon. With sets designed like construction sites, the six Aussies wore faded jeans, plaid shirts, baseball caps, and specially designed Blundstone boots. A far cry from the top hat and tails made popular by Fred Astaire, “the Dogs” introduced tap to a new generation with their rough and tumble style. Using a special mix of simple and complex steps, quirky concepts, and sheer force of charisma, the "Dog" sensation has spread. A thousand “Dogs” performed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony.

What’s next? The introduction of women into the cast, the movie “Bootmen,” which is inspired by Dein Perry's experiences, as well as the opening of the all-boy tap school “Tap Pups.” With constant re-invention and updated material, “the Dogs” will continue to be “the hottest show on legs.”

Learn more about people influencing the tap community like Dean Perry and Tap Dogs

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