Mount Airy: Learning Tree Connects Renowned Tap Dancer with Local Adults

The Shim Sham Shimmy is an important piece of tap history for Karon. Her students will learn it in its entirety over the next six weeks.]

There is no continent on which tapper Corinne Karon hasn’t danced. She “got the travel bug” while studying tap dancing’s historical roots in Ireland and has since performed on each of the world’s seven continents.

Karon said the Shim Sham Shimmy is a well-known piece of tap history. Her students will learn it in its entirety over the next six weeks.

A dancer for 33 years, Karon began teaching tap in 1994. She has since spread her knowledge of the style to local students and pupils in China, Brazil and the Czech Republic. She continues to teach at Germantown’s Wissahickon Dance Academy, where she has been employed for 15 years. Now, after a 14-year hiatus, Karon and the academy are collaborating with the Mount Airy Learning Tree to bring the art of tap to local adults.

The academy’s first collaboration with MALT was a beginner ballet course for adults in 1998. Academy Director Nancy Malmed said there’s no explanation for the 14 year interim that occurred after that first class. “It’s just that nothing happened,” Malmed said.

In October 2011, Ginger Sable, a student of both Karon and the Academy and a former MALT employee, learned of the school’s desire to offer a tap course for adults and suggested a new collaboration with the organization. Though Sable has since moved to Florida, her idea has come to fruition with the start of Karon’s six week Beginner Tap For Adults class, which she and the Academy are offering in collaboration with MALT.

Founded in 1980, the Mount Airy Learning Tree is a non-profit organization focusing on Mount Airy and Northwest Philadelphia. It offers a diverse catalog of courses emphasizing interaction among people of differing backgrounds and experiences. All of its classes are held in local buildings, including businesses, schools and homes.

For Karon, the new collaboration represents an exciting opportunity for both herself and her new students.

For Karon, the attentiveness and excitement of her adult students are "always exciting."

“Most adults say they used to dance and had to stop for some reason… or say to me that it’s something they always wanted to do,” Karon said. “It’s very exciting bringing in adults because they have this background where they’ve wanted to dance. Now, they’re getting this opportunity to try it.”

Asked what she hopes to see at the end of the six week course, Karon expressed a desire to see the academy keep working with MALT. “I don’t know why we haven’t done it sooner,” she said.

“I’m curious to see what happens when class ends.”

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