2015-16 Performance Series Choreographers: Vanessa Chisolm and Tre McClendon

Vanessa and Tre at Atlanta Tap Project Photo by Atlanta Tap Project                                               Vanessa and Tre at Atlanta Tap Project

                                                      Photo by Atlanta Tap Project

Dance Canvas: Tell us a little about The Atlanta Tap Project.

Vanessa and Tre: The Atlanta Tap Project is a community of dancers looking for a way to creatively express their love of tap dance.  Our goal is to create a new fresh outlook on tap dancing, unlike anything experienced before.   

Dance Canvas: What drew you to tap dance?

Vanessa and Tre: Both Tre and I have a huge love for dance in its entirety.  We both grew up around the art form, tap was always the dance technique closest to our souls.

Photo by Averi Washington
Photo by Averi Washington

Dance Canvas: What is the current state of tap dancing in the world today?

Vanessa and Tre: Tap is popular all over the world.  Throughout history, tap dancing has always been to the popular music of that time.  Tap dance was very popular during the jazz music era; even today, tap dance is performed using hip hop music.  Tap continues to evolve everyday…Atlanta Tap Project looks forward to continuing to inspire the next generation.

Dance Canvas: It seems that the popularity of professional tap has dwindled in recent years, do you see this happening? 

Vanessa and Tre: Throughout time, tap has always been up and down as far as popularity.  Tap is continuing to evolve everyday! Chloe Arnold, Jason Samuel Smith, Savion Glover and many more are definitely pioneering new and creative ways to get tap to more and more people. 

Dance Canvas: What are your inspirations as tap dancers and choreographers, and how did they help shape your styles?

Vanessa and Tre: Our main inspiration is having fun and self-expression.  We would like to use our art form as a medium of entertainment.  

Photo by David Patterson
Photo by David Patterson

Dance Canvas: In your opinions, why is the tap art form so influential and important?

Vanessa and Tre: Tap dance is so influential throughout time because it’s a true American art form.  Each generation continues to keep it alive.

Dance Canvas: What do you see happening in the professional tap dance community?

Vanessa and Tre: Our goal is to build up the Atlanta Tap Community and start with the youth.

Dance Canvas: Tell us about your new work with us.

Vanessa and Tre: We are so excited to showcase our fresh new tap piece to the world Jan 22 & 23, 2016. It’s filled with rhythms, variations, hoofing and a new spin to the art form of tap.


All about the Choreographers

Photo by Shannon McCollum
Photo by Shannon McCollum

Vanessa Chisolm is originally from Columbus, Ohio, currently living in Atlanta, GA.  She began her training at Pinnell Dance Centre in Gahanna, Ohio for ten years.  She later attended and graduated with a BA degree from The University of Akron majoring in dance. At the University of Akron, Vanessa trained in techniques such as ballet, Graham modern technique, jazz, tap, choreography, dance history and music.  In 2002, she decided to chase her dreams and move to Atlanta.  She started teaching at Tazz School of Dance and after school programs and worked her way to choreographing for several competitive dance studios.  She currently teaches at Studio Atlanta, AD West, Academy of the Arts and North GA Dance and Music.  For the last three years, she taught Tap and Jazz with Dance Canvas for the City of Atlanta Mayor Reed’s Artscool Summer Program.  She also performs “Bringin Tap Back” around the Atlanta metro area for television shows, and community festivals with live bands.  She currently teaches tap master classes for Stepp Stewart’s Dance Convention, judges for his dance competition, Dynamite, and assists with The Chocolettes.  She strives to do even more throughout the community with her talent and make other children’s dreams come true in dance.


Tre McClendon, a native Atlanta resident, was born to W. Oliver and Denise McClendon. Being the son of the owners of McClendon School of Dance, Tre has been surrounded by dance his entire life. Taking his first class at the age of 2, dancing was instilled as an important foundation in his life. He starting teaching his first classes at he age of 16 at McClendon School of Dance and since then has taught at workshops, arts centers, and dance schools all over the metro-Atlanta area. Tre is a recent graduate of Morehouse College, majoring in Computer Science. While in school, he continued to pursue his tap career. Tre helped create and now performs in a tap show that teaches children the origins of tap dancing in America. This show called Beat and Rhythm: The Evolution of Tap has gone into more than one hundred elementary, middle, and high schools all over the state of Georgia. His ultimate goal is to become one of the premier tap names in America.

We love the fierce and talented tap dancing we see! Don’t miss Vanessa’s and Tre’s new work premiering with Dance Canvas, January 22nd and 23rd at the Rialto Center for the Arts!

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