“In all of my time teaching at Shuffles, I have never seen Hannah walk into a room with anything but a wonderful, positive attitude! She is smart, determined, sweet, talented, and always an absolute joy to teach! Hannah exudes her energy on stage as well as off, and has become a truly fantastic tap dancer and performer! Whatever Hannah chooses to do, I know she will succeed. Although I will really miss having her in Company, I am very excited to see what this next chapter holds for her!” – Shelby Kaufman. SHUFFLES Tap & The Company Instructor
SHUFFLES: How long have you been part of the Shuffles family?
HANNAH: I started dancing at Shuffles when I was three years old, making this past year my fifteenth year of Shuffles and tap.
S: What’s your favorite Shuffles Memory?
H: Some of my favorite moments at Shuffles were practicing a duet, which was choreographed by Shelby Kaufman, with Molly Model. We were always in the oddest moods when class rolled around on Monday. We would start giggling and not be able to stop, and Shelby would roll her eyes and say, “Let’s just learn this one step,” but she loved it.
S: What was your favorite Shuffles performance?
H: I cannot pinpoint one show I enjoyed more than others but I hands down loved performing the routine, “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” with Gaby Niederhoffer and Molly more than anything I have ever done at Shuffles. It was the type of dance that we never got tired of doing. Also, that class with Molly, Gaby, and Kat (Katharine Ponza) was hilarious and one of the best parts of my week.
S: What do you think you’ve learned the most?
H: I have never planned on being a professional tap dancer or performer. But my years at Shuffles have ingrained in me, among other things, a life philosophy of sticking with activities I love doing, even if they have no tangible benefits or the reward is uncertain. The teachers at Shuffles have made tap worth it for me by effusing enthusiasm and kindness.
S: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to younger Shuffles students?
H: The weeks surrounding the May Shuffles show are always hectic and stressful. The teachers expect a lot from you—they expect you to know your lines, your cues, and to be professional. It is easy to get caught up in the intensity of these few weeks and be overwhelmed by the show. But just remember that you come to Shuffles not only to learn but also because performing is thrilling, tapping is fun, and you have great friends at Shuffles. So, take the show seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously and just have fun.
S: We heard you did your Senior Project at school on tap dance and incorporated Shuffles into your research and presentation. Please, tell us more!
H: I dedicated this past spring to making a documentary about the history of tap dance, spanning from the genesis of tap to its modern forms. I interviewed four Shuffles teachers (Shelby, Katharine, Gail, and Richard) and supplemented their insights with research of my own. The documentary was screened at my high school, The Brearley School, and included live performances by several Shuffles students (Molly Model, Gaby Niederhoffer, Kate Louissant, Myah Segura, Isabel Kingston, and Julia Kingston). They all danced beautifully, and I’m so grateful to them for being willing to help me with the project, which actually turned out better than I ever could have imagined!
S: What’s next?
H: In the fall, I am heading off to Stanford. While I’m excited about the new experiences I will have there, I’m slightly concerned about continuing with the old ones; my college does not have a tap program. Regardless, I definitely want to keep tapping in some way because I do not ever want to live a life without tap. Beyond tap, I plan on pursing the Classics and creative writing (employment may or may not be a part of my future) and I guess I will take it from there. I hope to find many new interests during the next four years and plan on frequenting Studio Maestro when I’m home for break!