Andrew Nemr

Andrew Nemr. TED Fellows Retreat 2015, August 26-30, 2015, Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, California. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

Andrew Nemr

Andrew Nemr is one of the most diverse tap dance artists today. An international performer, choreographer, educator and speaker, Andrew has played with Grammy Award winning musicians across multiple genres, founded and directed the tap dance company Cats Paying Dues, and co-founded the Tap Legacy™ Foundation, Inc., along with his mentor Gregory Hines.

Andrew’s journey as a tap dancer began as a child, when his parents enrolled him at Chris Collins Dance Studio (Alexandria, VA). He would quickly advance into the performing troupe, competing and winning in solo tap dance and pantomime, as well as group tap dance, ballet, and jazz categories. Additionally, Andrew expanded his performing experience with a number of parts in productions of Oliver, A Christmas Carol, and Huckleberry Finn, at the West End Dinner Theatre (Alexandria, VA).

Following a life-changing encounter with the movie Tap, Andrew auditioned and was accepted as a founding member of the National Tap Ensemble’s Youth Company. The artistic director, Chris Baker, later encouraged Andrew to attend a series of workshops hosted at Woodpeckers (NYC). There, Andrew met Savion Glover and Gregory Hines for the first time. That would be a formative moment with two of the most important tap dance figures in his life. Andrew would later join Savion Glover’s D.C. Crew in three consecutive annual residencies. The D.C. Crew would go on to perform at Dance Place (Washington, D.C.) and Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.). Andrew was also chosen by Glover to be a member of Real Tap Skillz, alongside Vincent Bingham, Joseph Webb, Baakari Wilder, and Glover himself. Real Tap Skillz would perform alongside Ghetto Originals and the original company of STOMP! at The Standard Theatre (Boston, MA) as part of the Dance Umbrella production Hip to the Tap Hop, and the Apollo Theatre in tribute to Honi Coles.

It was during this period that Andrew was introduced to a whose who of the tap dance world. Dancers like Jimmy Slyde, Buster Brown, Sandman Sims, Ernest “Brownie” Brown, Elvera Davis, James “Buster” Brown, LeRoy Myers, Ted Levy, Dianne Walker, Lon Chaney, Barbara Duffy, and Henry LeTang, became Andrew’s gateway into the oral tradition of the craft. To varying degrees these dancers shared, guided, taught, and encouraged Andrew in his tap dance journey. During this time Andrew and his parents would also travel to New York City for workshops, special events, and to attend jam sessions hosted by Jimmy Slyde at both La Cav and La Plac on the Park.

Andrew’s academics would continue alongside his dancing. Skipping 8th grade, Andrew was accepted into the second graduating class of the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology. The Academy exposed Andrew to advanced methods and technologies including rapid prototyping and 3D motion tracking. He would go on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Art, from the School of Visual Arts (NYC), combining tap dancing, MIDI audio and programming, and live 3D animation in his senior thesis, Looking Within.

Following graduation from college, Andrew reunited with Glover as a founding member of Glover’s TiDii. Andrew was featured in the critically acclaimed Improvography at The Joyce Theatre, NY, the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival 2001, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, the 2002 Winter Olympics Arts Festival, and the 2002 Nijinsky Awards in Monaco. Andrew also connected with house dance artist Brian Green, touring with and choreographing for his dance collective, World Soul.

Nemr’s own tap dance company, Cats Paying Dues (CPD), would begin to form in 2004. For the next ten years CPD presented critically and popularly acclaimed work including five evening-length works: All For Love (Premiered 2005, Mainstage Theatre at Playwrights Horizons), Where the Music Lives (Premiered 2008, Julia Miles Theatre, NY), Echoes In Time (Premiered 2009, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, NY), Cats in Concert (Premiered 2012, The Theatre at Riverside Church), and Three Suites (Premiered 2015, Tribeca Performing Arts Center). Other appearances included TED, The QAS at Webster Hall (NYC), Jamaica Performing Arts Center (NY), The Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (NYC), the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts (CT), Williams College (MA), and Celebrate Brooklyn (NYC). Return performances include Norte Maar’s Fete De Danse (NY) the Tap Extravaganza (NY), DUMBO Dance Festival (NYC), and the Jerry Lewis Telethon (National Broadcast). The company was also in residence at BRIClab (NYC) and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (NYC).

As an artist, Andrew has been described as “A masterly tapper” (New York Times). His work has been recognized with a TED Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the CUNY Dance Initiative, a FloBert Award for Tap Dance Excellence, and residencies with Quarterly Arts Soiree at Webster Hall, More Art’s Engaging Artists program, Surel’s Place, Google (TiltBrush), and TED.

The artists Andrew has shared the stage with is a venerable list of whose who, including Jazz greats Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Hank Jones, James Carter, and John Faddis, Harry Connick Jr., the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, and the legendary Les Paul. Similarly, his collaborators are an eclectic group of extreme talent including Nat Adderley, Jr., hammered dulcimer virtuoso Max ZT and House of Waters, cellist Dave Eggar, percussionist Susie Ibarra, and visual artist Mako Fujimura. Andrew was a member of the roots band Holler Jake, and recorded on their debut record, The Wakening (2018). Nemr is also recorded on the Grammy nominated recording Itsbynne Reel by Dave Eggar, the DVD Documentary and companion album Tuesdays at Mona’s by Mona’s Hot Four, and narrates the DanceTime Publications DVD, Tap Dance History: From Vaudeville to Film.

Andrew began the Tap Dance Freedom platform for tap dance education in 2013 hosting online and in-person events, pop-up workshops and intensives, and 1:1 coaching for tap dancers around the world. Andrew was the key consultant in the expansion of the tap dance program at McBurney YMCA (NYC), and took on the role of Executive and Artistic Director of the Vancouver Tap Dance Society during 2018-2020 seasons.

An avid speaker, Nemr combines the story of his personal journey and the craft of tap dance to speak about identity, community, faith, and love. He has presented on Fellow’s Stage at TED, at numerous TEDx’s (TEDxCERN, TEDxPuraVida, TEDxChemungRiver, TEDxSetonHall), Wheaton College, International Arts Movement’s INHABIT Conference, the Gospel and Work Conference, Laity Lodge, the Future of Storytelling and the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

In his efforts to continue to champion the art form of tap dance, Andrew co-founded the Tap Legacy™ Foundation, Inc., along with Gregory Hines. The Foundation has produced numerous events, including tap dance festivals, and the New York City Celebration of the National Tap Dance Day, while developing tools that will support the oral tradition of tap dance through times of cultural and social change. These tools include a digital social archive, a traveling exhibit, and a series of online resources.

Andrew holds a BFA in Computer Art from the School of Visuals Arts, is certified in the Active-Isolated Flexibility System by the Wharton Performance Group, and is a card-carrying honorary member of the original Copasetics, Inc.