Emmy-nominated choreographer, actress, director and producer for “Syncopated Ladies” is native Washingtonian Chloe Arnold (left). Her sister, Maud Arnold, also from the District, is a co-producer and dancer. Washington Performing Arts presents the tap dance ensemble at the Lincoln Theatre on February 20. (Photo courtesy Lee Gumbs Photography, courtesy of SILLAR Management)
Emmy-nominated choreographer, actress, director and producer for “Syncopated Ladies” is native Washingtonian Chloe Arnold (left). Her sister, Maud Arnold, also from the District, is a co-producer and dancer. Washington Performing Arts presents the tap dance ensemble at the Lincoln Theatre on February 20. (Photo courtesy Lee Gumbs Photography, courtesy of SILLAR Management)

For decades men have dominated the tap dance scene including Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire, Sandman Sims, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines and Savion Glover.

But women have finally begun to be appreciated and featured, like the dance band ensemble “Syncopated Ladies” who will take the spotlight soon here in the District.

As a part of their 2021-22 season, Washington Performing Arts will present “Syncopated Ladies” at the Lincoln Theatre on February 20. Emmy-nominated choreographer, actress, director and producer for the “Ladies” will be native Washingtonian Chloe Arnold.

She promises the dance group will show diverse tap styles incorporating hip hop, jazz, solo features and improvisation during their upcoming show.

“What makes us unique is that we put flavor in it,” said Arnold, who grew up in Ward 4 in Northwest. “It’s reflective of our culture and our vernacular. It’s an oral and visual experience.”

Arnold got the idea for a female tap dance troupe while attending Columbia University in New York City. As an aspiring tap dancer, she noticed the absence of Black women in shows with none given the chance to headline productions.

Arnold deemed such situations as unacceptable and turned to her mentor, Debbie Allen, for advice.

“You need to come to L.A. I think you’ll do better there,” Allen said.

Arnold, who met Allen years earlier at one of her youth training programs at the Kennedy Center, went to L.A. where Allen ushered her around the city. Allen also found a place for Arnold to live and let her train at her dance school. She coached Arnold to create it if it doesn’t exist. That encouragement included studio space from Allen so Arnold could work through her vision of women giving the power to tap dance.

“My life is amazing because of what she taught me, how she challenged me and because she believed in me,” Arnold said. “That is really why all the magic has happened.”

Due to COVID-19, the Ladies haven’t toured for nearly two years but Arnold has stayed busy. As for the upcoming show, it will feature the talents of Arnold, her sister and co-producer Maud Arnold, Anissa Lee, Pamela Yasutake and Gisele Silva. More tour dates will be added this year.

In between a rigorous practice and tour schedule, Arnold and her sister Maud give back to young people interested in tap dance through their Chloe and Maud Foundation. D.C. Tap Fest occurs under the umbrella of their foundation and will return in late spring as an in-person event after being a virtual gathering for the past two years. D.C. Tap Fest will award scholarships, hold 100 masterclasses and include many tap jam sessions.

According to Arnold, at D.C. Tap Fest, “anyone who wants to dance can dance.”

For ticket information about the Washington Performing Arts presents “Syncopated Ladies” at the Lincoln Theatre on February 20, visit https://www.washingtonperformingarts.org.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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  1. A Must-See Show!
    Syncopated Ladies: Live is a ground-breaking All-Female Tap production that propels beautiful, classy, and diverse women onto a re-invigorated stage, weaving their inspiring stories with intricate footwork, feminine prowess, and life-renewing energy. It is a celebration of sisterhood, empowerment, and black girl magic . Celebrate Black Hostory Month and usher in Women’s Month!

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