48in48 Nonprofit Spotlight: Chicago Tap Dance Theatre

Tapping through the Holiday

I jumped on a Zoom call with Mark Yonally just before the holiday season to learn what Chicago Tap Theatre was up to after their 2020 Global Event website build. Mark, the founder of Chicago Tap Theatre, had just finished preparing for Chicago Tap Theatre’s upcoming Holiday Tap Party that was live-streamed on December 27th and available online to stream. 

Mark Yonally Founder

Born into a family that loved the arts, Kansas City native Mark Yonally found his passion for tap at a young age.  As a child with allergies, Mark was consistently sick and in and out of the hospital. Limited with asthma at age three, Mark’s doctor encouraged the family to try dance as an anaerobic alternative to running. At age 8, he joined his first professional gig in Kansas City called Gang Busters, a nostalgia act that included dances of the ’30s and ’40s. Here, Mark began his career in dance. After exploring ballet, singing, and other art forms, Mark eventually found his life’s passion in tap. When asked why tap – Mark said he simply focused on what he did best.

Learn the History

Celebrating their 18th anniversary this past year, Mark started Chicago Tap Theatre in 2002. With a mission to tell stories through tap, Mark saw a gap in the existing market. The original goal was not to make a Nonprofit but to create an entirely original show. In the spring of 2002, Mark rented a theatre, got a group of dancers and students, and debuted a show on May 22nd in 2002. With five nights of performances, every single show sold out. Mark’s newfound success inspired him to continue to expand upon this original show. Creating a venue to continue his unique blend of tap dance and narrative storytelling in the Chicago area, the Chicago Tap Theatre was born.

Taking the beauty, rhythm, and musical sophistication of tap dance and marrying it with the portrayal of characters through the medium of tap is Mark’s platform. Mark has used this platform to extend tap dance to non-dance audiences in Chicago. With lessons available to beginners, intermediate, and professionals, Chicago Tap Theatre has a place for anyone interested in learning more about the art.

Chicago Tap Theatre Presents 30 Feet Together, 6 Feet Apart

What Chicago Tap Does

Chicago Tap Theatre provides accessible resources to learn at all levels. Shows are available throughout the year. With all events transitioned to an online platform during the pandemic, you can buy a stream. All events are available for free if individuals cannot afford a show.

How 2020 Affected Tap Dance

With a lease ending in March 2020, Chicago Tap Theatre lost the lease of their apartment and home office, followed by their long-time home closing in May 2020. While the pandemic created some challenges, Chicago Tap Theatre has found a new home for both their office and apartment. Like many Nonprofit organizations, Chicago Tap Theatre pivoted to an online platform. Committing to exclusive online content every day, Mark created a weekly schedule containing Facebook live historical tap lectures, online tap classes, interviews with prominent artists, original choreography, and even a tap book club. 

Chicago Tap Theatre

Keeping tap dance in front of people through these daily virtual excerpts was the main goal for Chicago Tap Theatre going into the pandemic.  Through the expanded online presence, Mark touched more people globally and became a constant in individuals’ pandemic life. For many, Chicago Tap Theatre helped bring a little more joy into their lives across the globe from South Africa, France, Ireland, South America, and across the states.

How to Reach Out

Chicago Tap Theatre outreach does not stop at their newly-built 48in48 Website. Their online presence extends to virtual events throughout the year. Like many Nonprofit organizations, following Chicago Tap Theatre’s Instagram pages is essential for keeping updated on all the company has to offer. Whether it’s upcoming events, merchandise, or classes, Chicago Tap Theatre’s Twitter and Facebook also continue to be valuable resources to spread awareness of American tap.

Looking Ahead to 2021 + How to Help Out

Chicago Tap Theatre

Despite the setbacks of in-person events in 2020, Chicago Tap Theatre is ecstatic to hit the ground running in 2021. With online classes and events in full swing, anyone interested can experience American tap lessons from around the globe. In July, Chicago Tap Theatre will be hosting their biggest event of the year. 
If you are interested in helping out Chicago Tap Theatre, the best way to do so is to take a class, buy a subscription to one of their events, or donate!  Follow their social media to stay up to date on all things Chicago Tap Theatre. With more events coming up, be sure to check out their online show on March 28th called A Spring in Our Step!

Chicago Tap Dance Theatre dancers

If you know another Nonprofit who might be interested in a new, free website build, please check out 48in48!