Tap alumni remember founder ‘always there for you’

Nov. 29, 2013 @ 11:41 AM

NC Youth Tap Ensemble alumni Whitney Goodman, Zans McLachlan and Elizabeth Burke give ensemble founder/artistic director Gene Medler all the credit for enabling them to succeed in art and life.

“No one can do it like Gene,” Goodman said. In the tap classes she teaches at Ninth Street Studio, Goodman follows Medler’s model. She stresses technique first. “And build from there, supporting people as they develop their own style,” Goodman said. But she concedes “No one can do it like Gene. He has high expectations while at the same time nurtures and supports them.”

Medler took a personal interest in his dancers.

“It was always about so much more than the tap dancing,” Burke said. ‘You could confide in him. He was always there for you.”

“He taught us how to be a member of a cohesive group,” Burke added.

Ensemble members learned how to work hard and respect and get along with a diverse group -- experience that has helped them succeed in whatever they do, these alumni said. In addition to tap, McLachlan is a senior Web quality analyst for Netapp in Research Triangle Park. Goodman is a special education teacher at Carrboro Elementary. Burke is a senior at Marymount Manhattan College.

 “Gene fostered such a love of the art form … it’s carried over to what I do now,” Burke said of dancing professionally in Michelle Dorrance’s Dorrance Dance.

“His impact will be historical on the art form in general,” McLachlan said. “He has amassed a group of technically beautiful, confident performers, who have their own style.” And, these performers will – and are – expanding the idea of what tap can be, he added.

Michelle Dorrance is a prime example having won many awards for her work. “Michelle is one of the most cutting edge tap choreographers in the world,” Medler has said.