Full Circle

July 22, 2019

It was February 1995. I remember I wore a navy blue velvet blouse. I left my seat next to my mother to sit on the plush floor pillows for children that were placed upfront in the Painted Bride’s Art Center’s theater. The pillow was cozy and velvet like my blouse. I was not only comfortable, but I felt like I was right where I needed to be. Not off center, nor out of place. My eyes sparkled and my ears tingled to the majestic sensation that I was experiencing. My pillow was literally a centimeter from the stage, but I still desired to be closer. I wanted to be completely immersed in what was going on at 230 Vine Street. If I could, I would bring my pillow to center stage and sit so that I would not only see and hear, but also feel.

Then came even more comfort. I saw a familiar face onstage. It was my current tap teacher. The reason I was even at this performance was because of her invitation. Another extension of acceptance. As I continued to be in awe what I was experiencing, I realized that (a) I wanted this to never end and (b) I wanted to be apart of this for a long time. I went home completely smitten. This was the night I knew I fell in love with tap dance.

Unbeknownst to me, a year later I would be invited to a screening of Plenty of Good Women Dancers at 230 Vine Street. Months after that performance, I would be asked to join the same company of dancers that I watched on the stage at 230 Vine Street. Throughout the next few years, I would receive education and perform with these amazing people. My first experience of National Tap Dance Day as both a performer and spectator was at 230 Vine Street. I was introduced to my heroes LaVaughn Robinson and Germaine Ingram here at 230 Vine Street. I have had the opportunity to perform with Germaine Ingram at 230 Vine Street. I got to meet legends, Libby Spencer and Edith “Baby Edwards” Hunt at 230 Vine Street. The introduction to my development of expression as an artist began to brew here at 230 Vine Street. And now years later, here I am, a resident at 230 Vine Street aiming to continue and maintain a legacy that I fell in love with four feet away 23 years ago.

As you have observed in this statement, I have mentioned a particular address and of the Painted Bride Art Center. Location has its importance but, it is meaningless without those who make residence there. For it was the the community of amazing people at the Painted Bride Art Center who helped maintain the legacy of tap dance in Philadelphia. It was here at the Painted Bride where an integral moment in my life occurred. And it is here, right now at the Painted Bride Art Center where my history as a tap dancer continues. My gratitude for this organization is an understatement. I’ve unconsciously been grateful since February, 1995.

-Robyn Watson
Director, Choreographer and current Resident

Join Robyn for “introducing” on Friday, July 26th to witness the culmination of her residency at the Bride. Robyn will present excerpts from Notes From a Dark Rib which is the first installment of the upcoming trilogy The Blackbirds’ Suites. With tap dance as the main dialogue, the piece addresses the image and representation of black women in America through the music and inspiration of Nina Simone. MORE INFO/BUY TICKETS