FLASHBACK: Choreographer Shawn Byfield On Canada’s Smartest Person

Shawn Byfield dance choreography on CBC Television

Shawn Byfield dance choreography on CBC Television

That time Choreographer Shawn Byfield talked about math! Shawn Byfield created tap dance choreography, and was a guest for an episode of CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Person.

» Click Here To Watch (Scrub to 25:25) 

Shawn Byfield dance choreography on CBC Television

Shawn Byfield dance choreography on CBC Television



Shawn ByfieldAs a sought-after presenter, choreographer, coach and entrepreneur, Shawn Byfield’s unique perspective is enjoyed by thousands who train and mentor with him every year. To start learning, yearning, movin’ or groovin’… contact Shawn before today ends.

Canadian Tap Dancer Wins GOLD MEDAL At Dance World Cup

15 Year Old Tap Dances Circles Around World’s Best, Wins Top Prize At “Olympics Of Dance”

TORONTO, ON – When it comes to dancing, Canadians have the tap bug. Dance student  Lara Renaud wins the top medal for her tap dance solo at this year’s Dance World Cup, held this July in Whistler, BC.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment to win at this event,” says dance expert Shawn Byfield (www.ShawnByfield.com) who’s taught tap dance in Canada for over 25 years. “Countries from around the world send their top students, to compete for the gold medal. It’s just like the Olympics, but for dance.”

Byfield, who is Renaud’s Toronto tap dance teacher, says it’s not easy being a champion. Many dedicated hours, lots of sweat, early mornings, and exhausted feet discourage dancers from reaching this kind of success. But because of Renaud’s love and passion for dance, the work doesn’t dissuade her.

“She’s such a motivated dancer and always rises to a challenge. I’m so very proud of her!”

Over 8,000 dancers globally have competed at Dance World Cup. Dance World Cup is recognized by the International Dance Council, and celebrated its 10th anniversary season at Fairmont Château Whistler Resort.

“When I got off stage, many people and dancers came to say how amazing it was!” shares Lara, excited about her Gold medal win for her tap dance solo. “There were dancers from USA, Mexico, India, China, Russia, Romania, Poland, Gambia, and all Canadian Provinces and Territories.”

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Who Could Say No To The Nicholas Brothers? (And Why You Should NEVER Put This Kind Of Fire Out)

The Nicholas Brothers tap dance duo

The Nicholas Brothers tap dance duo

Who could say no to The Nicholas Brothers? Fayard and Harold are firecrackers. I mean, they LITERALLY explode off the screen, inextinguishable in every performance.

I was just thinking of how as Black performers, because of racial inequality, our ancestors didn’t have many opportunities to perform on stage or film 60, 70, 80 years ago… Can you imagine a film director, producer or theatre director saying “Sorry boys, there’s no need for you in this show” to THESE guys? Regardless of colour?

If they did, we wouldn’t have this:

C’mon, tell me that’s not a fire! And they were rejected many times. Could you imagine if they cut this from the movie? The two Black boys who could out perform ANYBODY?

Anyway, this post isn’t about race or colour. Not today.

It’s about loving the world tap dance has opened up for me. My life completely transformed, because of a fellow hoofer Gregory Hines. If I didn’t see him explode on TV when I was six, I might not be in entertainment at all. I might not have learned to tap dance or develop a love for performing…

…Which lead me to teach thousands of students, travel internationally, perform and choreograph for stage,  film and television, and own a remarkable dance studio in downtown Toronto.

It’s amazing what those Nicholas Brothers did for thousands of people worldwide. They most likely had a huge impact on Gregory, which inspired him to do his tap dance, which inspired me to do MY thang…

Tell me that’s not inspiring!

I’m sure you’ll agree: Sometimes it only takes one spark to completely light up the path in your life. And that spark can ignite a wildfire of creativity and influence. We need MORE fires like this in our daily lives!

Who’s YOUR spark? Eleanor Powell? Gene Kelly? Your Aunt & Uncle? Buster Brown?

And are you interested in learning to tap dance? Because as you know, that’s what we do every day at Byfield Dance Experience. We give you the tools to develop your passion for dance. But watch out! Tap dance is addictive. =) When you start from scratch, you actually have unlimited potential.

So. Do me a favour and leave a comment below. Tell me today about YOUR spark and if you’re interested in learning beginner tap dance. We’ll have another 8 week session starting April 22nd if enough peeps want it. Word?

– @ShawnByfield


Tap Dance To Raise Awareness For Autism

Shawn Byfield tap dances with drum legend Vito Rezza and friends

Shawn Byfield tap dances with drum legend Vito Rezza and friends

On Tuesday May 17th, I was honoured to be a tap dancing headliner for The Autists– a high-profile art auction created to raise funds and support for the Geneva Centre for Autism. The event was curated by celebrated Canadian artist Charles Pachter. Ralph Benmergui of CBC and JazzFM fame, hosted the evening.

Canada’s top jazz musicians including Vito Rezza, Ross MacIntyre, George Koller and others performed under the direction of award winning musical director John Alcorn. Koerner Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music’s prestigious auditorium, has fantastic acoustics for tap dance and music lovers alike.

And the best part?

Savion Glover performed on the same stage just months earlier. To date, we’re the only two professional tap dancers to have performed in their space. Congrats to RCM for a terrific sounding theatre.

Tap into the arts in your community! Use your artistic talents to help those who need it. And always remember: if you need a tap dancer, you know who to call.

BTW: if Savion doesn’t call back, send me a tweet and I’ll see what I can do.

– Shawn B

Photos: Shawn Byfield and Tamara Duarte

Ross MacIntyre plays for The Autusts at Royal Conservatory of Music

Ross MacIntyre plays for The Autusts at Royal Conservatory of Music

Canadian actor and producer Tamara Duarte with choreographer Shawn Byfield

Canadian actor and producer Tamara Duarte with choreographer Shawn Byfield

Shawn Byfield shares a moment with Canada's top in Jazz.

Shawn Byfield shares a moment with Canada's top in Jazz.

A tap dance tweet before hitting the stage.

A tap dance tweet before hitting the stage.

SNEAK PEEK PART 3: The Shoes Of I Think I Can

SNEAK PEEK PART 3: The Shoes Of I Think I Can

Tap Dance Shoes for I Think I Can Show

Tap Dance Shoes for I Think I Can Show

Shoes. OMG, SHOES.

So as you’ve learned, it’s a tap dance show. And we have a LOT of shoes! Each character has a signature step when entering to the stage, and their shoes are no different. Here’s what the cast of I Think I Can are rocking on their feet:

Tap shoe supplies

Tap shoe supplies

So the metal thingys on the top right? Those are metal taps made from aluminum alloy. They come in different sizes based on the shoe size and width. We’ve had to custom grind a few edges down to make them a perfect fit for our cast.

Metal screws attach to the metal plates or black fiberboard, never directly to the leather sole. The screws that come with the taps are a bit too small so our wardrobe team had sourced out screws that were slightly longer.Also, the screw head widths have to fit perfectly in the holes or they scratch the floor. NOT good. We’ve had to grind some down.

Check out the soft-shoe slide show:

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As you can see, different styles of tap shoes are featured. Newton has sport tap runner shoes, since he’s the sport junkie in the production. Frufie, well hers are blue. Because she’s cute. Notice the unusual looking pair of clown shoes and boots? They were custom made from our awesome wardrobe department for additional characters in the show…

Most of the cast tap shoes are built up- which is when you add another sole of leather to the bottom. This gives the shoe a bit more weight, which allows for a heavier sound. It also makes steps like toe stands easier to do. They all have different shoe laces to match their wardrobe.

Everyone has TWO pairs of tap shoes because they’ll be worked pretty hard over the next couple of months in Toronto (Lorraine Kimsa Theatre) and in Ottawa (National Arts Centre).

I Think I Can custom tap dance floor

The stage FLOOR is just as important. It was custom built specifically for this show, tap-dancer ready. It’s a sprung floor with a masonite wood surface. The spring gives the tap dancers a bit of cushion when they land, which helps absorb shock and impact to their ankles, knees and hips. Plus, the sound their taps make resonates better on a sprung floor.

Now you know.

Come check out the good lookin’ feet!

– Shawn B

i Think i Can dance show - Toronto Ottawa

i Think i Can dance show - Toronto Ottawa

i Think i Can

Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People

April 4th – May 5th, 2011
Get TORONTO Info And Tickets

National Arts Centre

May 11th – 28th, 2011
Get OTTAWA Info And Tickets