Sean C. Fielder leads a rehearsal of the Boston Tap Company. Image courtesy BTC
Contrary to what some think, tap-dancing is no career for sissies. Just ask Fields Corner resident Sean C. Fielder about the grueling practice or check out the patches that dot the favorite performance jeans of this self-confessed "diehard Boston sports fan": logos of the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox as well as Adidas. This fleet-footed fireball sees himself as the Kobe Bryant of the local dance scene.
As President / Founder / Artistic Director / Choreographer of the recently formed Boston Tap Company (BTC), this Mattapan-born hoofer knows success in the dance world means a whole lot more than simply perfecting your Maxie Fords and shim sham shimmies.
Inspired by a chance visit to a dance recital at John Hancock Hall, Fielder started dancing at the age of 3. He studied ballet, tap and jazz at the Roxbury Center for the Performing Arts, which was founded and is still run by his aunt, Dorchester resident Andrea Major, who heads the A. Major Dance Company.
"Growing up at her dance school was the best thing that ever happened to me," Fielder says.
By the age of 7, he realized, "I was too in love with tap for anything to stop me from doing it from then on."
His first professional performance came at age 10 in "The Jazz /Tap/ Hip Hop Festival" produced by Jeremy Alliger's sorely missed Dance Umbrella, formerly the major presenter of modern dance in New England.
After participating in "Funk University," an intensive tap program in NYC in 1997, Fielder was featured in Missy Elliot's video "The Rain." Later on that same year, he was cast in the national tour of "Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk," the Broadway musical telling the story, through tap, of black history from slavery to the present. Beginning the tour as an understudy, he worked his way up after five months into the lead role.
During the three-year cross country tour, Fielder got pretty tired of fast food and performed for celebrities like Hillary Clinton, Jay Leno, and Sinbad, on CNN World News and on many other TV programs. When the Noise/Funk tour ended, he was featured on another six-month tour with Debbie Allen and Dick Clark for the American Heart Association.
More recently, Fielder has performed in the 2007 Bean Town Tap Festival, BalletRox's "Urban Nutcracker" and The Roxbury Festival of Dance. About a year ago, he held New England wide auditions and formed the non-profit BTC. He's proud of the diversity of his troupes in age, size, race and background.
"Members of the junior company must maintain a B average in school to stay in the program," he notes.
BTC has already performed at Mass MoCA (with Dianne Walker and friends), Boston University, the South End House, the Roxbury Center for the Arts at Hibernian Hall, and the Robert White Community Center. Fielder is exploring the possibility of BTC becoming the resident dance company of the newly renovated Strand Theater in Uphams Corners.
National Tap-Dancing Day is fast approaching on May 25 (the birthday of Bill "Bo" Jangles). Catch Sean and company at nnnonline.org, check out their upcoming local shows at their website bostontapcompany.org or make plans to cheer them on when they hit the big time this summer by appearing at the prestigious Jacob's Pillow.