ROXANE BUTTERFLY : TAP-DANCING AROUND THE WORLD
Improvographer, instant choreographer, dancing-musician who sings with her feet, Roxane Butterfly is rooted in the jazz culture with her primary inspirations coming from her native Mediterraneans and Africa. Sought after for her exceptional talent as an improviser, Roxane Butterfly is held as a true icon of the New York underground tap movement since three decades, both in the United States but also in Europe. She is known for her daring musical experimentations in musical environments distinct from the classic jazz tradition (from free jazz to classical music via flamenco, Arabic and Indian music, electronica etc…). Born in Toulon (South of France), Roxane is the first woman in the history of tap dance to have won the prestigious Bessie Award (in 1999 at the Joyce Theater in New York). In 2001, she became the first immigrant to gain permanent residence in the USA as an official tap-dancer. She represents a direct link to the generation of her mentors, the Original Hoofers.
Across the years, Roxane ventured into more contempary music avenues with percussionist Evelyn Glennie (in the movie Touch The Sound released in 2001), bassist Barre Philipps (2008), multi-disciplinary soundscapist Xumo Nounjio (with their cross=over production of Ad-Lib in 2011). In 2015, she created a soundtrack for the documentary The Origins of Music. The magnitude of Roxane’s vision for the art of tap is illustrated right from her debut by her jamming with Bartabas’s horse during Suresnes Cité Danse 1995…
Critics have compared Roxane to musicians such as jazz legend John Coltrane and king of minimalism Steve Reich. Her commitment to live-music have been supported by many funding organizations in America, such as the New York Foundation for the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, USArtirsts International, John Simon Guggeheim Foundation, Harkness Dance Center, Meet The Composer etc…
Some of her credits include concerts with jazz luminaries Les Paul, Stanley Jordan, Ron Carter, Aldo Romano, Benny Powell, Phil Woods, Dennis Charles, Elisabeth Kontomanou, Graham Haynes…, flamenco legends Tomasito and Carles Benavente, and world-music innovators such as Cheick Tidiane Seck (piano), Brice Wassy (drums), Leonard Eto (taiko drums), Prabhu Edouard (tablas)… to name only a few. Roxane also had the chance to share her sound with George Benson at one of his soulful parties in his Englewood house. She has been invited to perform and lecture at multiple music festivals around the world such as Jazz in Toulon (France), the Nice Jazz Festival (France), the Festival D’ Un Monde à l’Autre in Lyon (France), Nuits D’Afrique (Kola Note, Montreal), PetroJazz (Russia). Her Djellaba Groove project opened the world-famous GlobalFest at the Public Theater (NYC 2006), Summerstage (NYC 2006), Lincoln Center OutDoors (NYC 2007) and so on… She also has performed as a soloist with the Stamford Philharmonic Orchestra, The New York Virtuosi Orchestra, The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, and had the opportunity to collaborate for two decades with the pioneering production of Tamango’s Urban Tap.
Roxane´s ground-breaking work has helped establish the presence of tap dance at many international dance venues such as Jacob’s Pillow (Massachussets 2002), the American Dance Festival in Durham (2004), Harkness Dance Festival (NY2005), ImpulsTanz (Vienne, Austria, 2002), DanceSalad (Houston 2002), Institut del Teatre (Barcelona 2010), etc… In a widely male dominated field (still), Roxane stands as the only female tap dancer of her generation who has managed to lead a solo career under her name, presenting her own work in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North and South America, Asia, Australia and the Caribbeans. Amongst her multiple body of work, BeauteeZ’n The Beat is one that stands out because of its role in positionning the voice of women in a field widely dominated by images of men.
As a soloist, Roxane starred in Kenneth Feld’s hip hop musical MADhattan (Las Vegas) and Teatro Zinzanni (Seattle). She performed with Lynn Dally’s Jazz Tap Ensemble for a number of years alongside the legendary Nicholas Brothers and Gregory Hines, and lended herself to the experimental installation of photographer David Michalek : Slow Dancing,which toured worldwide.
Appreciated worldwide for her pedagogy, Roxane has taught at major American universities and the best Broadway and tap schools in New York City. In 2011, she founded the Jimmy Slyde Institute in Barcelona (JSI), an educational space honoring her mentor Jimmy Slyde, the great master of bebop tap. Slyde named Roxane: “Butterfly”, when they met in 1991 in New York. JSI has now closed its Barcelona location and keeps functionning as a touring workshop. It is dedicated to the transmission, preservation and innovation of tap dance.
Today in Paris
In Paris, Roxane teaches for the professional training of Juste Debout School and for the Conservatoire George Bizet. She is a part of the choreographers collective “Les Femmes Sont Là” (Women Are Here) of La Fabrique de la Danse, and produces her danced-concert TAPmatazz. Her Cie SmARTS features her daughter Zuly who has down syndrome, and aims to expand the visibilty of individual with DS.