Friday, May 12, 2006

Dancing in the Shade: Quick Questions for Paula Sloan

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Houstonians remember Paula Sloan as the co-Artistic Director of The Texas Tap Ensemble. As much as Sloan loved running a tap company, she has moved into new territory—musical theater. Most recently, she choreographed the TUTS production of 110 in the Shade. She caught us up on her recent successes.

Congratulations on your work with 110 in the Shade. How did you get involved with this production?
PS: Several years back TUTs had approached me about choreographing another show for which I was unavailable, due to the fact that I was choreographing elsewhere in the country. However, I told them I was very interested in a future project. Frank called me last year to ask if I was interested in choreographing 110 in the Shade. I was, and said "yes.”

Who choreographed the original show and were you able to view the choreography?
PS: Agnes deMille did the original; unfortunately, I was not able to see it.

I just love the scene at the picnic where all those handsome cowboys start stompin' their boots. It's a terrific part of the show. Is there a cowboy form of tap dancing?
PS: Yes, it’s called clogging. American Tap Dance has its roots in Irish Step, Lancashire Clog and African rhythms, all brought to this country in one way or another by some form of immigration. American Clogging must be related to one or two of these forms just by the mere fact of the way our country was settled.

What has the most fun part of choreographing this show?
PS: Working with all the wonderful people here at TUTS...both cast and production team.

Tell me about the transition from Artistic Director of the Texas Tap Ensemble to Broadway bound choreographer?
PS: Choreography is about being able to share my love of dance with the dancers who are then able to project it to the audience. I am thrilled to be able to work in any medium and any venue.

Does all this fame mean that Houston is a no longer your home?
PS: Houston will always be my home no matter where I am working.

Do you think another tap dance company will ever find its way back to Houston?
PS: Absolutely!

Tell us about the show you are currently on tour with?
PS: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a national tour which has been on the road since January 2006 and will be completed the beginning of May.

What other shows have you worked on?
I choreographed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Crazy for You.

What’s next for you?
PS: I will be leaving for NY on Tuesday to hold auditions for the upcoming 2007 Urban Cowboy Tour which I am directing and choreographing. I will also be checking in on the Camelot tour which I am choreographing in Sept of 2006.

Theater Under the Stars presents 110 in the Shade through May 21st at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Call 713-558-8887 or visit