Matthew Shields is a Canadian born tap dance artist residing in Austin, Texas. Shields has most recently been recognized for his work with Zach Theatre in the production of Mary Poppins; directed by Dave Steakley. Shields was the lead tap dancer and won a B. Iden Payne award for his outstanding work in the ensemble. Mr. Shields also appeared at Zach Theatre in the Duke Ellington musical review; Sophisticated Ladies starring Jennifer Holiday. Shields & partner Tony Merriwether received an Austin Critics Table Award for outstanding duet performance and were also nominated for a B. Iden Payne musical theatre award for their role in this production. Shields is the CoFounder/Artistic Director of Hyperfeet Productions and HYPE; Hyperfeet Youth Performance Ensemble which runs youth tap dance companies in both Austin and Dallas, Texas. Mr. Shields has directed many tap dance productions including; Sound Crash Wave a tap dance expression for HYPE Dallas, TV Music Mixtape for HYPE Austin, Rhythm Lives for Montreal Tap Festival, In Good Time for Rhythm in Fusion Festival, A Chronological Life Story Of A Few Tap Dancers for Vancouver Tap Society. Shields appeared on television for the opening performance of the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. While also making several performance appearances on FOX News, KXAN, Good Morning Texas, KVUE and Time Warner Cable. Mr. Shields was an original cast member for the national and international tours of The Souls of our Feet -A Tribute to American Tap Dance. Mr. Shields’ additional performance credits include appearing at the Toronto and Edmonton International Jazz Festivals. The Edmonton Fringe Festival and Feats Festival of Dance. L’International Festival Le Danse Encore, Quebec, Canada. The Tap Ahead Festival in Germany, The Vancouver International Tap Festival and The Chicago Human Rhythm Project. And most recently appeared with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox at Sun Fest in West Palm Beach, FL The DeBortollo Foundations annual fundraiser in Tampa, FL and again with PMJ in Sardinia, Italy.
Jumaane Taylor, a Chicago native, has been tap dancing since the age of 7. He began his training at the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre where he currently teaches. He has had the esteemed opportunity to perform and study with Idella Reed Davis, Martin “Tre” Dumas III, Jimmy Payne Jr., Sarah Savelli and George Patterson III. Jumaane made his professional debut with the group M.A.D.D. Rhythms founded by Bril Barrett. Performing and teaching both locally and internationally, Taylor traveled to Europe to perform Rasta Thomas’ “Tap Stars” which premiered in Germany and was apart of the ensemble for "Imagine Tap!" which was directed and choreographed by Derick Grant. He was also a principal dancer for a production entitled “Tap in2 Peace” directed and choreographed by Sarah Savelli and Ayodele Casel. In 2015 Jumaane created “Supreme Love”, a tap dance production honoring John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and the art of tap.
Danny Nielsen is originally from Calgary, AB, he began his rhythm tap career as a founding member of MADD Rhythms Canada under the direction of Lisa La Touche. In his hometown, Danny was hired by the highly regarded jazz company Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, which lead to having featured choreographies in their productions of Tinge and Tone and 25. In 2010, Danny became the ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Vancouver Tap Society, where he directed the boys program, the girls program, and youth ensemble Tap Co with the Society for 2 years. During his time in Vancouver, Danny was a part of many productions including A Chronological Life Story of a Few Tap Dancers with Matt Shields and Travis Knights, Stark Pulse with Jessie Sawyers, and the original tap dancer in the creation of Taps and Twang with the Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble. In 2012, Danny was the recipient of the Santa Aloi Award from the Scotiabank Dance Centre. He later used the grant to create and direct his first full length production Love.Be.Best.Free. In his time in Vancouver, Danny emerged onto the international tap scene, making his presence felt in Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Chicago, Mexico, Seattle and all over Canada. He has taught for distinguished dance festivals and conventions such as the Zurich Tap Festival, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Triple Threat, DC Tap Fest, and Brasil Tap Jazz to name a few. Television credits include the worldwide broadcast of the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies and the opening number for the 2008 Jerry Lewis Telethon choreographed by Chloe Arnold in Las Vegas, NV.
Tony Merriwether (Artistic Director)
Tony Merriwether was initially inspired during an in-school outreach program conducted by Tapestry Dance Company. Instantly sparked, the fire grew as he moved through the ranks of the organization—from the academy, to the pre-professional company (Visions in Rhythm) directed by Tasha Lawson, to becoming one of the principal dancers in the professional company. In addition to six seasons of shows with TDC, Tony’s performance credits include Sarah Petronio’s Tribute to Jimmy Slyde, Ayodele Casel and Sarah Savelli’s Wonderland (a tap tribute to Stevie Wonder), Lane Alexander’s Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Barbara Phillips’ Third Coast Rhythm Project, and ZACH Scott Theatre’s Sophisticated Ladies featuring Jennifer Holliday—where he won an Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Duet and was nominated for the B. Iden Payne Musical Theatre Award. His tour credits include Dorrance Dance in Concert—directed by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Michelle Dorrance, the east-coast touring Thank You, Gregory (a tribute to the late Gregory Hines) written and choreographed by Tony Waag of the American Tap Dance Foundation, and Acia Gray’s nationally-touring production of The Souls of Our Feet, where Tony shared the stage with tap masters Dianne Walker, Sarah Petronio, and Arthur Duncan of the Lawrence Welk Show. He regularly teaches and performs alongside a docket of legendary dancers at tap festivals around the country—including the LA Tap Fest, Space City Tap Fest, Austin’s Soul to Sole Festival, and the upcoming Rhythm in Fusion Festival. Tony’s teaching credits also include world-renowned Broadway Dance Center, STEPS on Broadway, Dallas Powerhouse, HYPE Dallas, and Tapestry Dance Academy. He is the Artistic Director of True Sound Rhythm Productions and True Sound Rhythm Fest—Houston’s only tap dance festival, Director of TAProots (the resident youth tap ensemble at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Center), and the Founder of the non-profit StepSure, whose mission is to raise confidence and self-awareness in urban youth through comprehensive tap dance education.