Fast Feet Baakari Wilder
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.
Baakari Wilder speaks with his feet. Watching him perform as a tap dancer becomes an entrancing experience. Often dressed in an untucked button-down shirt and slacks, it is through his feet that Wilder expresses so much talent, passion, musicality and artistry. It comes as no surprise, then, to find out that he has had a very successful career as a tap dancer.
Wilder is probably most well-known for his starring role in the Broadway musical Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk for which he received a Bessie Award. Wilder has also performed on some of America's greatest stages – The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center – as well as in France, Africa, Brazil and Japan. He succeeds as a tap teacher as well and has shared his knowledge to people of all ages for over 15 years. Wilder is on faculty at Knock on Wood Tap Studio in Washington, D.C., is an adjunct professor at Montgomery College and is Assistant Artistic Director of Capital Tap Company.
Here, the tap phenomenon and Capezio Athlete Baakari Wilder gives Dance Informa the “inside scoop.”
What got you into dancing?
“My mom. I was three years old.”
On your journey, did you ever have a moment when you doubted that dance could be your career? How did you overcome that?
“When I was around six or seven, there were only two boys in class, including myself. The other boy stopped coming, so I decided that I didn’t want to dance anymore. When my sister started dancing, I had to walk her to class, so eventually I started up again.”
What’s your favorite part about being a dancer?
“Sitting in a groove.”
What have you been up to this year?
“I toured a bit with a group of musicians who go by the name of Dovetail Ensemble. I taught a workshop in Toronto, and I’m preparing to star in a lead role in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson.”
What has been your favorite dance memory so far in your career?
“My favorite memory is starring in the Broadway musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.”
What Capezio shoes do you wear, and why do you like them?
“K360s. The leather is comfortable and shapes to your foot overtime. The shoe is strong but light, like I’m wearing slippers.”
What do you do on your days off?
“I sleep, catch up on TV shows or go to the movies. But I hardly have any time off.”
What’s your number one piece of advice for aspiring dancers?
“When everyone is going right, it’s okay to make a bold choice to go left. In time, you will be respected for that, and you will be contributing to the expansion of the art form in a way that may have otherwise been neglected.”
What’s something that a lot of people don’t know about you?
“I was on the swim team when I was a kid and I’m fluent in American Sign Language.”
Photos: Baakari Wilder. Photos by Enoch Chan.