There aren't that many young dancers anymore who cite the elegant 1930s Broadway and movie stars the Nicholas Brothers as inspirations. Or who even know who one-legged tap dancer Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates was. But Keira Leverton and Courtne Shed, the Dallas tap dancing duo known as the Rhythmic Souls, do. Dedicated to continuing an indigenous American art form, these ladies perform old-school tap, down deep in the floor, the way the late Gregory Hines danced (he's another inspiration of theirs).
Leverton, 33, is the granddaughter of Dallas tap dancing legend Buster Cooper (at 89, he's still tapping). She's danced all over the world, including a gig playing "Grover" in Sesame Street Live's USO Experience for Military Families. She's also the co-director of the Drawbacks Youth Tap Ensemble. Among her teachers and mentors are some of America's tapping greats, including Hines, Henry LeTang, Derick K. Grant, Acia Gray and Dianne Walker.
Shed, 27, has been dancing since she was 3. When she hit 6-foot-1 as a teen, "everybody said I was going to be a basketball player and I got tired of that," she says. She decided to dance instead and hasn't looked back. She's a former member of Dallas Black Dance Theatre II.
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A big hit at the 2011 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival at Addison's WaterTower Theatre, Rhythmic Souls, co-founded by Leverton and Katelyn Harris, now entertain at the roller derby shows in Fair Park on weekends. They're taking the act to Scotland next summer to perform at the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival.
We found them in their rehearsal studio in Lakewood, working on Paul McCartney's "Blackbird," sung and played live by Ashley Boucher. They also dance to Vivaldi. Peg Leg never did that.