Felipe Galganni, tap dancer, teacher, and choreographer, is known for his unique style and versatility in blending the American art form of tap dance with his Brazilian roots. Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Felipe began his dance training in 1996 at the age of 9. He started out taking a jazz dance classes after school, but at age 15, Felipe discovered tap with his first teacher Valéria Petroni, and he hasn’t stopped tapping since.
Within a year of his first encounter with tap, Felipe began teaching the dance. It was during this time that Felipe performed as a soloist and ensemble member in his first musical, the Maya-directed show, entitled “O Musical dos Musicais” (The Musical of the Musicals). Felipe reunited with Maya in 2007, when he acted in and choreographed the musical: “Garota Glamour” (Glamour Girl). Felipe’s affair with musical theater continued in 2009, when he was commissioned by writer/director Hudson Gauber to choreograph and perform several tap numbers for the São Paulo premiere of the musical “Rock Show” in Brazil, Felipe continued to explore tap dance, performance and choreography, as he honed his teaching skills. In 2010, Felipe participated in a weeklong intensive in Rio taught by Heather Cornell (Manhattan Tap), and was exposed for the first time, to the idea of using tap as an instrument, and looking at the dance as music. It’s an approach that takes into account the tonality of every sound, of every dancer, each as a member of the band or orchestra completing the composition. This experience solidified Felipe’s decision to pursue tap dance as a profession.
That summer Felipe moved to New York City to further his tap education. He continued his studies with Ms. Cornell, a teacher he still counts as one of his mentors, and was soon introduced to his now long-time collaborator and friend Chikako Iwahori. It was through Ms. Iwahori, that he met the various teachers, choreographers and dancers within the New York tap community. Since making the move to New York Felipe has had the honor of dancing, studying and performing with such great names as Tony Waag, Max Pollak (RumbaTap), Lynn Schwab and Ray Hesselink, in addition to Ms. Cornell and Ms. Iwahori.
In 2011, Felipe’s American work visa was sponsored by Mr. Waag and the American Tap Dance Foundation (ATDF), Felipe then joined the staff of the ATDF’s New York Tap City Festival, and became team leader for “Tap It Out” (a large format a cappella outdoor tap performance with over 100 dancers of all ages). This job soon became an annual role for Felipe and led to an interview with NBC New York in 2014.
Throughout his time in New York, Felipe regularly performed the works of several accomplished choreographers, including Michelle Dorrance and Derick K. Grant, and was an ensemble member in Max Pollak’s RumbaTap. In addition, Felipe orchestrated the RumbaTap premier in Brazil.
Felipe debuted his first choreographed piece in America, at the New York Tap City Festival in 2013, at the “Tap Internationals” concert. This performance resulted in an invitation to become an Artist-in-residence at ATDF. Felipe continues to experiment and challenge conventional boundaries, including using live musicians to accompany his master class at the 2016 ATDF New York Tap City Festival (a first-time experience for many of his students).
Felipe has also studied under the Master, Brenda Bufalino. Ms. Bufalino has invited Felipe to perform with her several times, including a premiere of her work, inspired by John Cage, at the 2014 Dance Magazine Awards. In 2016, when Ms. Bufalino received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 32nd Annual Bessies, Felipe had the honor of performing in the reprisal of her pieces, Tacit/Latin with original members of the American Tap Dance Orchestra.
Brenda Bufalino, Tony Waag, Felipe Galganni and Lynn Schwab - All Blues - Dance Magazine Awards, 2015.
During his nearly 15-year career, Felipe has taught at the some of the most prestigious dance schools in the world. He is currently on faculty at several well-known studios in New York City, including Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and the American Tap Dance Foundation. He is also honored to have worked with Joffrey’s artistic director, Jo Matos, to create the Joffrey Ballet School’s Tap Spectacular in Miami, Florida, in 2015. Felipe was instrumental in creating the program’s curriculum, auditioned all the applicants in the show’s first year, and now teaches for the program annually.
Felipe constantly works at improving his skills. In addition to teaching, performing and choreographing his own work, he enjoys the opportunity to study with many incredible tap artists like Derick K. Grant and Lynn Schwab. Felipe also values his many collaborations with artists such as Chikako Iwahori and Samara Seligsohn. His experience also extends to judging dance competitions, and choreographing for movies and television.
Felipe focuses his teaching and choreography on his unique Brazilian influence in his expression of tap dance. He also develops his work with his own company in New York City. In a 2014 review of one of the pieces he created for his company, entitled “Fuga”, The New York Times writes, "...Felipe Galganni juxtaposed the precision of tap with the curvaceousness of capoeira, the Brazilian martial art. As two crouching, cartwheeling capoeiristas and six tappers wove through one another to Baden Powell's 'Berimbau,' their musicality was contagious."
"FUGA" by Felipe Galganni & Company, 2014 - Photo by Amanda Gentile
Felipe has performed all over New York at famed venues such as: Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, the New York City Parks Foundation Summer Stage, The Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, The Cotton Club, The Duke on 42nd Street, The New Victory Theater, The Metropolitan Room, The Bronx Museum, New York City Center , Arlington Club, 14th Street Y, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, and others. He is also a regular performer at the Riviera Sundays Parties at LAVO NYC.
In the fall of 2016, Felipe was accepted to the fourth consecutive Emerging Choreographer Series 2017 (ECS#4) presented by Queens-based performance company Mare Nostrum Elements (MNE) and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (LPAC). As a participant in this prestigious series, Felipe choreographed a solo piece entitled All My Trials, which premiered on February 27, 2017.
Felipe Galganni in "All my Trials", 2017 - Photo by Gisella Sorrentino / Costume by Eilat Rimon
In April of 2017, Felipe Galganni premiered the concert TAP&TOM at The Players Theatre in New York. With musical direction by the award-winning Carlos Bauzys (Brazil), the performance blended Felipe's original tap dance choreography with the sounds and rhythms of bossa nova. The sold-out show honored what would have been Tom Jobim's 90th birthday and the 60th anniversary of the creation of bossa nova, incorporating Jobim's composition in a celebration that included both live musicians, singers, and dancers.
Thanks Dena F. Rothstein and Siobhan Lockhart for collaborating in writing this bio.