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Tap for a New Generation

Sisters Chloe, left, and Maud Arnold helped organize the D.C. Tap Fest, a three-day event starting tomorrow at the D.C. Dance Collective in Northwest.
Sisters Chloe, left, and Maud Arnold helped organize the D.C. Tap Fest, a three-day event starting tomorrow at the D.C. Dance Collective in Northwest. (Handout Photo)
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By Timothy Wilson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 16, 2009

When Chloe Arnold first met acclaimed tap dancer Dianne Walker, she came away with a lesson that has lasted a lifetime.

"The dance she taught us I remember to this day," Arnold said. "All I had was one class from her."

Almost 20 years later and now a notable tap dancer, Arnold, along with her sister, Maud, hopes to inspire the next generation of tap dancers.

The sisters have organized the first D.C. Tap Fest, a three-day event featuring classes, jam sessions and a concert, which begins at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the D.C. Dance Collective, 4908 Wisconsin Ave. NW.

"My sister and I, we grew up dancing," said Chloe Arnold, 28, a graduate of Wheaton High School in Montgomery County. "It's our responsibility to make sure the young people here get the same opportunity that we had."

More than 30 classes taught by 17 instructors will be offered to students with beginning, intermediate or advanced skill levels. Two introductory classes will be available each day for first-time dancers.

Classes last about an hour and 15 minutes and begin at 4:15 p.m. tomorrow and 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Registration is $25 for individual classes. Scholarship support is available.

Tickets for Saturday's 8 p.m. concert at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, 3500 R St. NW, are $30. Area tap dance companies will pay tribute to Walker and Harold "Stumpy" Cromer, who partnered with James Cross to form the comedic dance duo Stump and Stumpy.

Cross and Cromer recorded songs and appeared in several movies, radio and TV shows from the 1930s to 1950s. The duo influenced comedians such as Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Mel Brooks and performed with Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas.

Chloe Arnold, who choreographed last year's opening number for Jerry Lewis's annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, called Cromer "a walking history book" and said tap dancing is "an art form that lives in the tradition of being passed on" to others.

Cromer will lead a class about the history of tap dancing Saturday; Walker will teach a class Sunday.

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