Research Catalog

Interview with Lynn Dally

Interview with Lynn Dally, 2019 / Conducted by Brynn Shiovitz on February 7, 8, and 9, 2019 in Santa Monica, California; Producer: Dance Oral History Project.
Dally, Lynn

Items in the Library & Off-site

Filter by

1 Item

StatusFormatAccessCall NumberItem Location
AudioSupervised use *MGZMT 3-3476Performing Arts Research Collections Dance


Additional Authors
Shiovitz, Brynn Wein
Online resource 6 streaming files (approximately 6 hrs. and 9 mins.)) : digital +
  • Streaming file 1 (approximately one hour and 37 minutes), February 7, 2019. Lynn Dally speaks with Brynn Shiovitz about her childhood including the date and place of her birth (December 3, 1941 in Columbus, Ohio); growing up in the dance studio run by her father Jimmy Rawlins and mother Hazel Capretta Rawlins; her first dance training (at the studio), in tap, ballet, acrobatics and baton twirling; her father's multiple roles as curriculum creator, choreographer, teacher, and stager of shows for local hotels; her mother's role as ballet teacher and business manager; her father's interest in music as a pianist and composer; her tap dance training with her father including his rigorous approach; her parents as role models for herself as a performer; more on her tap lessons with her father; his ensuring that she saw all kinds of dance and dancers, for example, Fred Astaire in movies and live performances of Frederic Franklin and Mia Slavenka, Hines, Hines, and Dad, and Peg Leg Bates [Clayton Bates]; teaching at one of her father's branch studios when she was 15; (briefly) her brother and sister; Fred Strickler, whom she first met at her father's studio; Charles Weidman's master class at the studio; the impact on her career plans of seeing a performance by the OSU (Ohio State University) dance company [University Dance Company] that included improvisation; her experience at OSU (1959-1963) including opportunities to choreograph; the resident faculty including Helen Alkire and [Vera] Vickie Blaine; techniques that she studied there including that of Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, and some of the guest artists including Helen Venable and Viola Farber; attending the summer dance programs held at Connecticut College in New London, including her composition classes with Louis Horst: Modern forms and Pre-classics; the month-long summer workshop she attended in the 1970s held by Merce Cunningham and his company [Merce Cunningham Dance Company] at Colorado State University, in Boulder (Colorado) including her description of composition class with Cunningham; an anecdote about taking a music class taught by John Cage; more on the Connecticut College summer programs including taking classes taught by Paul Taylor and Martha Graham and their respective company members; her post-graduate activities including teaching at Smith College while getting a master's degree in theater there; (briefly) spending time in Europe and London, England; returning to Ohio State as a teacher; the faculty's active participation in creating and performing new works including their forming a company directed by Ruth Curier; her participation in a Department of Art project called Intermedia Workshop; more on her time as an undergraduate at OSU in particular her opportunities to choreograph; her personal life during this period including her frequent visits to The Sacred Mushroom, a jazz club; more on her experience at Smith College including Martha Myers and how she came to invite Dally to teach at Smith; Colloidal suspension, the work for trio she presented at the 92nd St. Y in New York on a mixed bill with Gus Solomons jr and Alice Condodina including David Vaughan's favorable review; the power of favorable reviews in general including how reviews by Sally Sommer and Deborah Jowitt of Jazz Tap Ensemble helped tap establish a space in the concert dance world; (briefly) Gus Solomons jr and Condodina as performers; more on Colloidal suspension; her summers in New York during this period (1960s) including taking class at Merce Cunningham's studio and at the Joffrey School; her life at this time going to jazz clubs and dance performances; changing her name to Dally after she married; after her two years at Smith going on tour in Greece with a Greek modern dance company based in Athens; reasons she left before the tour ended; (briefly) her time in London where she ran out of money; her family during this period including her parents' divorce; joining the faculty at OSU.
  • Streaming file 2 (approximately one hour and 30 minutes), February 8, 2019. Lynn Dally speaks with Brynn Shiovitz about her five years (beginning in 1966) as a junior faculty member at the OSU Dance Department, in particular how the faculty members were very active as choreographers and performers; American Dance in Repertory, the resident company led by Ruth Currier; working with guest artists whom she found inspiring, including Judith Dunn, who expanded Dally's exposure to improvisation, and Viola Farber; reminiscences of Helen Alkire; Lucy Venable and her work with Labonotation; Vicki Blaine's incorporation of Effort/Shape in her composition classes; her work as the Dance Department representative to Intermedia Workshop; an anecdote about Tom Rawe's comment on her as a teacher; her experience with improvisation in the form of her father's call and response tap exercises and (much later) Gregory Hines' "improvography"; Jerome Robbins as the choreographer she admires most; leaving OSU to move to San Francisco and study with Margie Jenkins for a year (1973-1974) while teaching tap in Oakland at Everybody's [Dance Studio]; in 1974 forming the seven-women (modern dance) group Lynn Dally & Dancers while continuing to study with Jenkins; her frequent guest artist residences during the next few years; the typically negative reviews she received from the Los Angeles Times; in 1976 joining the faculty at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles] and reorganizing Lynn Dally & Dancers as a three-dancer group; opening a studio with Fred Strickler [Pacific Motion Dance Center], who had his own modern dance group Eyes Wide Open; Camden Richman and her role in Dally's education in and exploration of tap dance's history; artists she researched including John Bubbles [John William Sublett] and Honi [Charles] Coles; making it a point to talk about the great rhythm tap dancers of the past in the group's lecture-demonstrations; the initial difficulties Jazz Tap Ensemble [original name: Jazz Tap Percussion Ensemble] had in recruiting Black artists; how the group eventually became more diverse beginning with Dianne Walker's introducing Derick Grant to Dally; the challenge of defining their place in the dance world; the dual nature of the group's first paid engagement on the West coast (in 1979 at University of California, Santa Cruz): Lynn Dally & Dancers for part 1 and Jazz Tap Ensemble for part 2; being based in Los Angeles as an additional hurdle to recognition in New York including an anecdote about a review by Jack Anderson; her watershed decisions to accept a position (in modern dance) at UCLA and to divorce her husband; working with Strickler to recreate a phrase learned from her father as a milestone in their tap collaborations; choreographing for Richman as instrumental in building a tap repertory; her dual existence as a modern dancer/teacher and tap dancer including her gratitude to Pat Catterson for her groundwork in tap at UCLA; the Ensemble's musicians: Tom Dannenberg, Paul Arslanian, and (after the first concert) Keith Terry; the Ensemble's first concert, in January 1979 at the studio followed by the UC Santa Cruz engagement in July; the transfer of her NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] funding from Lynn Dally & Dancers to the Ensemble; the closing of the studio in 1981 due to lack of funds; the Ensemble's guiding principle that each dancer had to be a soloist with an individual voice and be able to dance in an ensemble; Richman as a choreographer; the dissolution of the original group after five years (which she and Strickler reorganized with new members); the overall positive response to the Ensemble including the role of tap dance festivals in providing it with a public platform; the excellence of their band as a factor in their success, including recognition of the band's high level of musicianship by both Fayard Nicholas and Gregory Hines; reflections on her experience as a modern dance teacher at UCLA, which she left in 1981; her guest artist residencies, including her choreographing a group piece that combined modern dance and tap as well as a cross-cultural work; the rise of tap dance festivals including the first Colorado tap festival [Colorado Dance Festival's "Fascinatin' Rhythms" a Jazz Tap Celebration, in 1986], which featured five male tap artists; Hine's raising the issue at the Festival that there were no women on stage; the founding of the International Tap Association (ITA); how these festivals helped revive the tap dancing careers of tap artist greats such as Coles, and how these artists contributed, in turn, to the success of these festivals; an anecdote about learning a shim sham from Fayard Nichols and showing it to her father; more on how the tap festivals contributed to the revival of jazz tap and how they are changing with a new generation of tap dancers.
  • Streaming file 3 (approximately 44 minutes), February 9, 2019. Lynn Dally speaks with Brynn Shiovitz about the Jazz Tap Ensemble including their performance at DTW [Dance Theater Workshop, now New York Live Arts] and hiring an agent, Shellby Soffer, as milestones in the group's development; the change in name from "Jazz Tap Percussion Ensemble" to "Jazz Tap Ensemble"; her and Strickler's trips to Oakland to choreograph at Camden Richman's studio; her work Caravan (set to the song "Caravan") and how it led to her choreographing for Pacific Northwest Ballet; her focus on the steps rather than motivation or images; her process, in the early days of the Ensemble, of deconstructing tap steps and reassembling them, as illustrated by her work 'Bout a mile; during this period building pieces with sounds, rhythms, and ideas as a way to engage both oneself and the audience; Strickler's scientific and Richman's "rock and roll" approach to choreographing; Gregory Hines and his "improvography"; Hines' generosity including how he helped the Ensemble; the accomplishments of the Ensemble during the five years (1979-1983) before it dissolved, including their engagements in London and Paris; with the strong encouragement of their agent, deciding to continue the Jazz Tap Ensemble with Strickler; the changing composition of the company including members who went on to form their own companies such as Linda Sohl [Sohl-Ellison]; the Ensemble's first USIA [United States Information Agency] tour in 1985, in five Southeast Asian countries; factors that determined the repertory including the Ensemble's members at the time and the availability of guest artists such as Honi Coles; performing in 1981 at the Smithsonian [Institution] with Coles in a program produced by Sali Ann Kriegsman [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 4].
  • Streaming file 4 (approximately 50 minutes), February 9, 2019. Lynn Dally speaks with Brynn Shiovitz about the Ensemble's performance at the Smithsonian Institution with Honi Coles as a guest artist; how Sali Ann Kriegsman and her husband Mike [Alan M.] Kriegsman contributed to the success of the Ensemble: Mike's favorable review of its performance at the Kennedy Center [John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts] and Sali Ann's continuing support at the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts], the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and her other dance-related positions; Dally's pride in the Ensemble for its role in representing an important part of American dance and in contributing to the recognition of jazz tap as an art form; performing with Honi Coles and Heather Cornell in a television show directed by Michael Smuin, on KQED; after Coles suffered a stroke just before a tour, finding substitute guest artists including Harold Nicholas and Steve Condos; an anecdote about Nicholas and the phrase "show business;" the Ensemble's reconstructions of tap dance choreography seen in movies including an anecdote about Condos' comments on the Ensemble's reconstruction of Condos Brothers' choreography; the criticism the Ensemble encountered for attempting these reconstructions including from Brian Seibert in his book [What the eye hears: a history of tap dancing, 2015]; Derick Grant's comments on the Ensemble's reconstruction of the Condos Brothers' War dance; in 2007 reconstructing the Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov duet from White Nights for Grant and Sam Weber for a California tour; how Hines helped to raise the visibility of the Ensemble by performing as part of a shared program on every night of their engagement at the Joyce Theater; the sense of community in the tap world, at least when she was younger; Hines' hiring of the Ensemble and its band for a number of his West coast shows; Hines' performing as a guest artist with the Ensemble at the Jazz Bakery [now closed], in Culver City, California; the Ensemble's Carnegie Hall concert with Hines, in 1990; a wide-ranging tap show at the Apollo Theater produced by Dancing in the Streets, featuring Hines and Savion Glover among others; the Ensemble's relationship with Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France including its performance at the theater's 1990 biennial festival, titled An American Story; some of the performers including Sara Petronio, Jimmy Slyde, the Nicholas Brothers, and Glover; Steve Condos' death at the festival, right after he had finished a performance; some of the other companies at the festival, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
  • Streaming file 5 (approximately 53 minutes), February 9, 2019. Lynn Dally speaks with Brynn Shiovitz about the Maison de la Danse festival in 1990; the changing composition of the Ensemble; the role of the Joyce Theater as a showcase for the Ensemble's new work; more on the composition of the company including Becky Twitchell [Bloom], Carol Christiansen Zee, Steve Zee, and Roxanne "Butterfly" Semadeni, who had trained with Jimmy Slyde; the growth of the Ensemble's repertory through the creation of new work by members and guest artists such as Slyde, Eddie Brown, and Gregory Hines; her documentation of the Ensemble's performances; Interplay, the work for six dancers created by Slyde for the Ensemble in collaboration with Dally and other members of the Ensemble including Derick Grant and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards; Doxie, Eddie Brown's work for the Ensemble, including its upcoming performance by Acia Gray's Tapestry Dance Company; Groove, Hine's work, for the company, which then included Roxanne "Butterfly," Sam Weber, Steve Zee, and Becky [Twitchell Bloom]; the filming of the premiere at the Joyce Theater by Dennis Diamond; her experience, working with Brenda Bufalino to design a curriculum for and teaching at the Colorado tap festival organized by Sali Ann Kriegsman and Marda Kirn including some of the guest teachers; using the festival to proselytize including the founding of the International Tap Association; the Jazz Tap Ensemble's annual "Christmas workshops," held in Los Angeles for twelve years, with guest artists such as Cholly Atkins, Bufalino, and Fayard Nicholas; the Caravan Project, a group for teenagers she started in 1990, initially with Dormeshia and Grant as members; her experience (2000-2012) teaching tap at UCLA in the new World Arts and Culture department including a master class taught by Gregory Hines, which was filmed by John Bishop; Women in Tap, an event she organized at UCLA in 2008; reasons she enjoyed teaching at UCLA including the relative freedom she had regarding the curriculum, the beautiful studio, and the quarterly student shows (the Pau Hana); the tribute to Fred Astarie at the Getty [Museum] that she and Sam Weber staged, including Harold Nicholas as a vocalist; the Ensemble's regular performances at the Joyce Theater during Thanksgiving week even as its bookings overall fell off; opening the Joyce season in 2008, which was also the year funding dried up in the aftermath of the global financial crisis; the Ensemble's 2012 African tour of four countries, which was part of Dance Motion, U.S.A, a program sponsored by the United States State Department and produced by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music); Kenji [Igus], one of the dancers on the tour [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 6].
  • Streaming file 6 (approximately 35 minutes), February 9, 2019. Lynn Dally speaks with Brynn Shiovitz about Michelle Dorrance and the California State Arts Council and NEA-supported 2007 taps masterpieces concert, including the dancers: Dorrance, Josette Wiggan, Ananda-Bena Weber, Sam Weber, Sebi Goldberg, and Derick Grant; her documenting on film Sam Weber and Grant dancing together; her experience touring, around 2009, in the American South including an anecdote about a college that canceled the booking after realizing that the company was not all-Black; an anecdote about an incident (suggesting evidence of systemic racism) at the University of Mississippi; other tours including in Louisiana and in Utah; her gradual pulling back from performing; the Women in Tap festival including some of the participants: Constance Valis Hill, Sali Ann Kriegsman, Deborah Mitchell, Acia Gray, Dorrance, Wiggan, and Dianne Walker; the panel discussions including Wiggan's encountering of racism on Broadway and an anecdote about how Bufalino and Walker identified themselves: as an artist and as a social worker, respectively; her continuing to teach and choreograph at UCLA until 2012; her plans participating in the upcoming tap festival featuring women in tap that Gray is organizing in Austin,Texas; her current lessons in hula dance; more about her plans for Austin including why a focus on the blues would bring her back to her past; her thoughts on where tap is now and where it is going, including her admiration for Dorrance, in particular her creativity and the way she uses the past without being burdened by it; the complexity and experimentation she is seeing in tap today; her feeling that the foundation has been laid for female tap dancers.
Alternative Title
  • Dance Oral History Project.
  • Dance Audio Archive.
  • Sound recordings.
  • Oral histories.
  • Interview with Lynn Dally conducted by Brynn Shiovitz on February 7, 8, and 9, 2019, at Dally's home in Santa Monica, California, for the Dance Oral History Project of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
  • For transcript see *MGZMT 3-3476
  • As of March 2023, the audio recording of this interview can be made available at the Library for the Performing Arts by advanced request to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The audio files for this interview are undergoing processing and eventually will be available for streaming.
  • Sound quality is excellent.
  • Title supplied by cataloger.
Access (note)
  • Transcripts may not be photographed or reproduced without permission.
Funding (note)
  • The creation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by a bequest from Carl Schlesinger.
Call Number
*MGZMT 3-3476
Dally, Lynn, Interviewee.
Interview with Lynn Dally, 2019 / Conducted by Brynn Shiovitz on February 7, 8, and 9, 2019 in Santa Monica, California; Producer: Dance Oral History Project.
Playing Time
Type of Content
spoken word
Type of Medium
Type of Carrier
online resource
Digital File Characteristics
audio file
Restricted Access
Transcripts may not be photographed or reproduced without permission.
Recorded for for the Dance Oral History Project of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 2019, February 7, 8, and 9 [New York (N.Y.).]
The creation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by a bequest from Carl Schlesinger.
Connect to:
Added Author
Shiovitz, Brynn Wein, Interviewer.
Research Call Number
*MGZMT 3-3476
View in Legacy Catalog