Demi Remick Has the World at her Tapping Feet
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.
At 18 years old, Capezio Athlete Demi Remick might just be graduating high school this year, but by no means is she just like any other teenager preparing for college. In fact, most who know her well might not call her a teenager at all anymore, as she certainly has wisdom and experience beyond her years.
Born and raised in Gilford, New Hampshire, Remick moved to New York City at only 15 years old to become a contemporary ballet trainee at the Joffrey Ballet School and to pursue her love of tap dance. Switching from public to online high school, she continued her schoolwork while diving headfirst into the NYC dance scene.
In her career thus far she has performed with the New England Tap Ensemble, as an improvisational soloist for The Boston Tap Company, as a soloist in Capezio Athlete Jared Grimes’ Run The Night, as an understudy in Jason Samuels Smith’s Chasin’ the Bird at the Joyce, and as a member of Michelle Dorrance’s Bessie Award-winning company, Dorrance Dance, which has performed at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Tap the Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, SOUNDspace at Danspace Project and the Fall For Dance Festival at New York City Center.
From 2008-2011, Remick won recognition in the nationwide Reflections Art Program Choreography Contest, twice winning the nationwide Award of Excellence with her original tap choreography. She is also a two-time winner of the DC Tap Festival Cutting Contest.
Here, Dance Informa catches up with Remick to chat about her current performance schedule, where she is teaching, and where she will pursue a college dance degree.
Where are you currently performing?
“I just finished performing this past week at American Tap Dance Foundation's Rhythm in Motion at the 14th Street Y. I performed for Derick Grant, Nicholas Young, [Capezio Athlete] Michelle Dorrance and Jason Samuels Smith. So that was a lot to do in one show!
Currently, a lot of the things coming up are with Dorrance Dance. I’m also working with Jason Samuels Smith’s company Anybody Can Get It. We’re performing at the Brooklyn Dance Festival this month and in early May.
With Dorrance Dance, we’re spending a lot of time at Jacob’s Pillow this summer. We’ll have a two-week run in July, which is in collaboration with tap dancer and body percussionist Nicholas Young. That’s going to be really interesting.
I was also just accepted to The School at Jacob's Pillow for its Tap Program, which Michelle will actually be leading.”
Are you getting to choreograph at all throughout all these performances?
“In a lot of Michelle’s shows we have a lot of improvised solos and collaborative sections. But other than that, I’m just really creating for my classes at Broadway Dance Center.
One opportunity I’m excited about is this Tuesday when I head to the Zurich Tap Festival to teach and perform. While I’m out there, I’m also dancing in a show called Rhythm Refix [a European premiere] by Cartier Williams. That’s going to be a very eventful week.”
Do you typically perform at this many festivals, or is this a new development?
“Well, I have done the Brazil International Tap Festival, but this will be my next real big festival. My generation of young dancers is just starting to creep into the festival circuit, so that’s exciting! I like it!”
In New York, where can dancers take classes from you?
“It’s not a consistent schedule because I am traveling so much, but I am a substitute teacher at Broadway Dance Center, where I teach anything from beginners to advanced. I also teach at the American Tap Dance Foundation and offer private lessons as well. I was also teaching basic tap classes at Mark Morris Dance Center. I’ve really only become a teacher in the last year or so.”
What have you been learning as a teacher?
“I’ve learned so much. At first being a teacher can be terrifying and awkward but then you learn to watch your students and communicate with them. I think I picked it up pretty quickly from there. I learned that my teaching is not boring and to just have confidence in my knowledge and advice that I can offer.
I’ve definitely learned to use the mirror as a tool to teach and see everyone in the class. With it, you can teach and critique at the same time. When it comes to teaching, you’re doing a lot simultaneously so it’s learning that balance. Teaching can be overwhelming still, but I really love it.”
Have you learned some teaching skills from your work with Michelle Dorrance and Jason Samuels Smith? Have they influenced your style?
“I definitely think I teach a lot like Michelle! I’ve learned a lot from her and watch her for guidance a lot of the time because she is my favorite teacher, my favorite dancer and pretty much my favorite everything. [Laughs.] So I teach very similar to her, a very drill-based class. Also, I teach like Jason since I focus a lot on improvising.”
Will you pursue a college dance degree? Where are you planning on going to school?
“I just recently finished all my college auditions and I am officially going to SUNY Purchase for Dance this fall to earn my BFA.
I chose Purchase because they have the concentration in dance performance, the classes in modern, ballet, contemporary, improv and composition, as well as a huge focus on choreography. They have junior and senior projects that will allow me to start experimenting with tap dancers and contemporary dancers. I attended something called YoungArts Week and since then I’ve been really interested in this idea of collaboration, which is one of the reasons Michelle has inspired me because she has this diverse movement style and she collaborates often. Hopefully, I’ll be able to develop something of my own like that in college.”
Do you have any advice for young aspiring dancers?
“Just continue to study all types of dance because it can do nothing but help. The new generation of dancers is really diverse these days and those who are multi-faceted are the ones getting the jobs. That’s so exciting to me because that’s what I want to do – combine and blend styles.”
Throughout your schedule of performing, teaching and studying, what Capezio shoes are you typically seen wearing?
“I’ve actually become known for my custom yellow Capezio K360s. I’ve heard many nicknames for my shoes. Some people call me ‘Lemon Foot’ or ‘Banana Foot’ and others call me ‘The Yellow Machine.’ I love my shoes too! I love the way that they fit and mold to my feet. They’re not too heavy but there’s a good amount of weight still. I have a large toe tap and specially ordered heels, which aren’t actually even sold anymore. I’ll never stray from Capezio. I’ve loved them my whole life.”
What are some of your long-term goals and aspirations?
“I definitely want to be a choreographer and have my own company one day. That’s very long-term, not anytime soon. But I want a multi-form company where I can choreograph contemporary and tap dance. Within my tap dance, I’d love to one-day incorporate floor work and partnering. I think multi-formed improvisation could spark some interesting choreographic works. I’m really inspired by music and movement of all types, so I’d like to have a company one day that recognizes all of that.”
Catch Demi at these upcoming performances:
- Jason Samuels Smith’s Anybody Can Get It at Brooklyn Dance Festival, New York, April 26-May 4
- Dorrance Dance at Spoleto Festival, Charleston, South Carolina, May 31, June 1-3, 5-8
- Dorrance Dance at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Becket, Massachusetts, July 16-27
*Remick is also nominated to be a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts through YoungArts. She will soon find out whether she was chosen as one of 20 students in the nation. If she is chosen, she will have the prestigious honor of showcasing her work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. in June.