Nancy Traina was six years old when she took a dance class for one year learning tap, ballet and tumbling. As a young girl she watched Shirley Temple movies like so many other kids during those years. Something about the tap stuck with her and thirty years later the “tap bug” bit her for good.
In 1989, when the movie “Tap” came out starring Sammy Davis, Jr. and Gregory Hines the first International Tap Festival in Portland, Oregon was held. Only one year back into tap dance, Nancy made the trip with other local tap enthusiasts and studied tap dance for one full week with famous tap artists, many of whom were in the movie. The Portland festival continued for several more years and Nancy attended every one as well as other like festivals all over the country including those in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles , Colorado as well as British Columbia, Canada. Her mentors include Charles “Honi” Coles, Brenda Bufalino, Steve Condos, Eddie Brown, LaVaughn Robinson, Dianne Walker.
Originally from California, Nancy studied music her school years. Her family members all play instruments so it was only natural to play as much music as time would allow. She and her twin sisters formed a folk singing group “The Edwards Sisters” in the 60’s, performing at coffee houses, for civic clubs, county and state fairs and anywhere their mother could take them. She was in bands and orchestras throughout middle and high school and would play anything put in front of her. If the orchestra didn’t have enough bass players, she would do it. Wind instruments are her favorite particularly the saxophone. It was in the high school jazz band at age fourteen where she met her husband, Wayne and they have been together ever since. They have two sons, and three beautiful grandchildren.
She and her husband moved to Oregon in 1977 and ten years later a friend got her back into tap dance. Following the Portland Tap Festival in 1989, she and current dance partners Linda Erwin, Beth Butler and Teresa Zimmerdahl formed the Pacific Tap Dance Company to promote tap through teaching and performing. The group is still going strong and Nancy continues to teach all ages and levels at the Majestic Theatre.
Tap dance is uniquely an American art form. Its’ influences are African flat foot and European clogging. When jazz music and tap became popular early in the twentieth century it seemed everyone could do some form of tap dancing. You had to be able to tap to get a job in entertainment whether it was in vaudeville, in a night club, with a big band, or in movies.
Fortunately, with her background, Nancy has been able to incorporate music theory into her teaching and helps students understand the value of rhythm, timing, musical forms, dynamics and improvisation within the many styles of music she uses in her classes. Tap is a powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression. Whether you do it for exercise, for fun or as a professional performer it is enjoyed by all.