Juba! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance

From its roots in Africa and Ireland to the glitz and showmanship of the Broadway stage, the captivating artistry of tap dance continues to evolve.

PBS Plus Presentation
Premiere Date
April 1, 2001
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Allan Siegel

Allan Siegel has been making and directing films since 1967. He was a founding member of the documentary film group Newsreel and a co-director of Third World Newsreel. His films have been exhibited at most of the world’s major film festivals, including Oberhausen, Berlin, Festival dei Popoli, Turin, Rotterdam, Ann Arbor and San Francisco. Siegel’s Show more programs have been shown extensively on public television and cable, and his productions of The Marriage Dinner and No Time to Lose were both selected for national exhibition on the Learning Channel program, The Independents. No Time to Lose was also broadcast on WNET. Siegel directed and wrote the screenplay for A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, based on the story by Ernest Hemingway. The film won a “Bob” Award from Image Union, a program that features the work of independent producers. He is currently working on the documentary In the Shadows of the Shoah; writing a screen adaptation of the David Albahari novel, Bait; and doing the cinematography for the exhibition Mies in America, which opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art in June 2001. Siegel currently teaches in the film and video department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Show less


Scott Stearns

Scott is a Chicago-based director of photography, lighting director, and producer. In addition to operating his current company, Fire Force, he founded Fire Blossom Lighting and Red Star Stage. He has contributed to Terry Zwigoff’s documentary Louie Bluie, featuring artist and musician Howard Armstrong, and he worked with DP Ed Lachman on Chicago Show more segments for Say Amen, Somebody, directed by George Nierenberg. He's worked on music videos for bands including The Smashing Pumpkins and REM, and has shot a feature comedy, My Father’s Shoes, set in Chicago and Italy. Show less

Executive Producer

Fawn Ring

Fawn Ring is the executive producer of cultural & entertainment programming at WTTW Chicago. She has been the driving force behind many of WTTW's most innovative arts programming initiatives. Her producing credits include five programs for PBS's Great Performances series since 1989, as well as the highly acclaimed special, Mozart By The Masters Show more with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Victor Borge. Other production credits include Love In Four Acts, a PBS special featuring works created especially for television by four Chicago choreographers. She was co-executive producer for the award-winning documentary Record Row: The Cradle of Rhythm and Vanishing Act: Memories of Vaudeville. She is host for Artbeat Chicago, a weekly arts magazine series showcasing culture and the arts in and around Chicago, which she was involved in launching in 1997. She is presently executive producer of Network Chicago Presents, a performance series produced in conjunction with Chicago arts and performance organizations. She is also executive-in-charge of Wild Chicago, an offbeat series that explores Chicago's most unusual and surprising people, places and things to do, and executive producer for arts specials and documentaries. Show less

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The Film

Juba! Masters of Tap & Percussive Dance captures the dynamic renaissance of tap as seen and performed by some of the world’s greatest living dancers. Filmed at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s eighth annual Festival of Tap and Percussive Dance, Juba! combines explosive dance performances with exquisite documentary footage in a stunning hour-long portrait of the tap dance resurgence in contemporary American culture.

The documentary includes in-depth interviews with performers and behind-the-scenes footage of the dance workshops and rehearsals from the July 1998 festival. Classroom sessions led by tap masters drew students and enthusiasts from all over the world to the two-week celebration of dance. Evening performances displayed the virtuosity of the artists-in-residence, accompanied by the innovative music of the Rich Fudoli Quartet.

Interviews with and performances by leading figures in the tap world include Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Founder and Artistic Director Lane Alexander, Van “The Man” Porter of Riverdance fame, Mark Mendonca of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, Dianne “Lady Di” Walker, Sam Weber, Ernest “Brownie” Brown, Michael “Shoehorn” Conley, Barbara Duffy, Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin, the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, Rhythm I.S.S., Linda Sohl-Donnell, Prince Spencer, and Fred Strickler.