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The Young Hoofers

By: Damian Gaillard



The Young Hoofers were created through sweat, ambition, and soul. The "Young Hoofers" were founded by Traci Mann, a woman who studied under great dance masters, such as Buster Brown and Chuck Green. Mrs. Mann, who was raised on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, came to New York in 1988 with only $800 and a one way bus ticket. She had hopes of becoming a ballet dancer, but when she attended a tap jam, she fell in love with it. At that point Traci Mann quit ballet dancing to learn tap. She soon went on to tap with the greatest tap dancers, like Liza Minelli and Gregory Hines.

Mrs. Mann was introduced to the restoration theater in 1994 by, her good friend and colleague, Megan Haungs. She asked Traci if she wanted to teach tap at the theater Mrs. Haung's mother owned. Since she needed a part time job, she agreed to teach a tap class for young boys and girls.

Soon Ms. Mann felt that she had to give up the whole class because of an arduous commute. However, six months later the mothers of her students called informing her that the boys were really serious about dancing, and Traci soon returned to the boys. The boys became more disciplined, stronger and worked together as a team, and because of their hared work and dedication Ms. Mann took them around to different schools in Bed-Stuy and Queens to perform.

The boys became more focused as young tappers, and earned the name "The Young Hoofers." An appropriate title because when they tap, they stomp with great force, as if they had hooves for feet. The Young Hoofers now have as many as ten members and they range in age from six to twenty years old. The way these young hoofers tap, they're sure to stomp their way to success.

Five of the Young Hoofers have recently performed at a festival in the legendary Morningside park in Harlem. After their performance, I got a quick interview with them and this is how it went down:

HL: Where are y'all from

YH: Brooklyn

HL: How long have y'all been doing this?

YH: "About two and a half years going three years, most of have been tapping since we were like four and five, except Shakia cause he only is about four or five so he started tapping a few years ago."

HL: Can we go around and get every bodies name and age?

YH: "Yeah. Lance, 15, Adé,11, Shakir, 6, Sheldon,13, Tripston,16, and Calvin,13."

HL: Who does the Young Hoofers work with?

YH: "We work with Ms. Traci Mann. She's our teacher and our choreographer and she has been with us for about two years, well she's been with some of us for three or four years then we were put together. So she has been our choreographer since then."

HL: What organization is that?

YH: "Mann Arts Entertainment. It's private. It's our own little group, just us Young Hoofers, two good hoofers, that's who we are."

HL: Do you all get some kind of funding for what you do?

YH: "No, not really. We buy our own things."

HL: Are any of you guys looking to make tapping into a profession or is this just something to do in the spare time?

YH: "I'm doing this forever, this is what I'm going to till the day I die, for life."

HL: How about everybody else?

YH: "Yeah, same thing, but you always got to have something to fall back on cause you can't just make a living off of just tapping cause you don't get paid enough to make a living off of it. Well it depends on far you take it, but you still got to have something to fall back on."

After that, the hoofers had to go, but I hope to catch up with them in some of their upcoming shows.

So until next time,. . . Peace !


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