On September 15, Pinellas County’s Dolphin Trail in St. Petersburg-Clearwater welcomed its newest addition to a playful pod of more than 220, six-feet-tall, mixed-media dolphins designed by local artists and sponsored by local businesses.
“Rhythm,” who wears a tuxedo and sports tap shoes, was created by Clearwater artist Robert Daltry and is sponsored by Kayla Cowart, Clearwater resident, cast member of Stomp, Off-Broadway’s music and dance production, and founder of Clearwater’s Florida Tap Dance Project.
The dolphin dance icon statue pays tribute to Dunedin dance icon, Ms. Elaine Forestier who founded Patricia Ann Dance Studio more than 56 years ago. Florida Tap Dance Ambassadors Morgan Storrison of Tapped In, Inc. and Kayla Cowart both tapped under the tutelage of Ms. Elaine. Forestier, who passed away about six months ago at age 95, tapped actively until she was 93 years old.
The Florida Tap Dance Project held its ribbon-cutting event on Saturday after which Rhythm was unveiled in front of the Patricia Ann Dance Studio at 941 Douglas Street in Dunedin (its permanent home) where more than 150 well-wishers gathered in attendance, including Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski, Pinellas County Commissioner (former Mayor of Dunedin) Dave Eggers, and Patricia Ann McNally, owner of Patricia Ann Dance Studio and daughter of the studio’s founder Elaine Forestier.
Musicality and motion set the pace when the gathering then moved to Dunedin’s Pioneer Park, just a few walking minutes away and dancers from Patricia Ann Dance Studios, Tapped In, Inc. with Morgan Angillilis-Storrison, Truth Tap Company with Ruth Ann Martin, and the Rhythm and Sole Tap Ensemble with Ashlyn Bolton filled the dance stage along with the Tap Girl of Florida Kayla Cowart and St. Petersburg-turned-New York dancer Aubrey Cheek.
As a first-time event, The Dunedin Tap Dance Festival was a great community success and it will be back next year. “Florida enjoys a thriving tap dance industry,” Kayla Cowart explained. “Florida tap dancers are an integral part of our country’s national tap dance community and the Tampa Bay area pulsates at the heart of it.”
Cowart’s dream is to have Florida’s tapping feet be heard and recognized from coast-to-coast and the Dunedin Tap Dance Festival has helped to make her vision a reality.
Mark your calendar for the Second Annual Dunedin Tap Dance Festival on September 14, 2019 and join these talented high-stepper dancers next year when their rhythmic beats tap on.