Annapolis native taps to own beat

Rhythm: Broadway dancer Kelly Isaac returns to Maryland Hall, where he honed his skills for 13 years, for a Saturday performance.

September 23, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Welcome to "The Pro-File," an occasional feature in which Anne Arundel Live will introduce you to a professional entertainer, artist, musician or dancer who is doing something noteworthy in the area. Today's pro is Annapolis tap dancer Kelly Isaac, who has taken his rhythm to Broadway.

The Pro

Kelly Isaac likes to let his feet talk for him.

Sitting at his kitchen table, he turns his foot swiftly and fluidly, and with one motion, you hear three distinct beats.

Do that again.

Tap, tap, tap.

It looks like all he's doing is running his foot across the linoleum floor, but you know what you heard. And he does, too.

Isaac, 20, is an Annapolis native turned Broadway dancer who was raised performing on Maryland Hall's stage. He'll be dazzling crowds again at a performance Saturday as part of the hall's 20th anniversary.

"Every time I perform there it's gotten better," said Isaac. "It just feels like home to me."

No doubt 13 years of study with Mary Slater, many of them in a third-floor studio at the hall, has made him familiar with the place. Between tapping and acting in plays from the time he was 10, Isaac estimates that he has performed there about 40 times.

Issac has stage presence. His hair, shiny black ringlets that frame his face. His talent, the ability to make sounds with his feet when it seems they are nearly still. Raw attitude.

"It's a release," he said. "You can go through all types of emotions when you're tapping. In other dances, the piece is already set to where your emotion is supposed to be, but in tap, it's all in how you feel."

After a semester dancing on Broadway last year, Isaac is feeling pretty good.

Last year, his idol, Savion Glover, picked him to be a sidekick dancer in his Broadway show "Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk," a look at African-American history through dance. Isaac was an understudy for four parts and performed in several shows.

He became part of a fraternity of black men dedicated to rhythm through the sole.

"Lately, all I've been doing is improv, and coming up with new rhythms is exciting to me," he said.

His most recent creation is a six- or seven-tap pull-back, a move in which the dancer stands with his feet together, then jumps back, his feet flopping like those of a rag doll to tap out a rhythm. The movements are so quick that even Isaac is not sure how many beats he's tapping out.

But he's sure he's tapping the rhythm of his heart.

"There's so many things in tap that I just get a kick out of," he said. "There's something about getting on the wood and releasing."

The File

Age: 20, born in Annapolis.

Education: St. Mary's High School, Annapolis, 1997. A second-year student at University of Maryland, College Park, studying theater.

Home: Stevens Park, Annapolis.

Personal: single, but dating. Only child of Lafayette and Karen.

Inspired by: Ben Vereen and Savion Glover.

Shoe size: 10

Quote: "I learned more during this show than I did in African-American studies."

Check him out: at a performance 8 p.m. Saturday at Maryland Hall. Information: 410-263-5544.

Pub Date: 9/23/99

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