Co-Founder, Knock On Wood Tap Studio
A native Washingtonian, Yvonne Edwards is Washington's celebrated "Tap Lady." She has been dancing, teaching, and choreographing for over 50 years. Ms. Yvonne, the founder of Knock On Wood Tap Studio (home of Tappers With Attitude), has taught master classes at the International Conference of Black Dance in Atlanta, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and at the New York City Tap Festival, as well as throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Her choreography is included in the repertoire of Tappers With Attitude. A longtime participant in Washington Performing Arts Society's Artists in Schools Program, in 1993 she was the recipient of the "Contribution to Dance in the District" award presented by the DC Ensemble, DC Arts and Humanities, and DC Art Works. She has been honored by the International Association of Blacks in Dance, and was named "Tap Teacher of the Year" by the American Tap Dance Foundation. In September 2006, she received the Metro DC Dance Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Dance Education." In December 2006, she received "Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Award for Education" at the Executive's Ball of Montgomery County, MD. In September 2007, Ms. Edwards received the WPAS "Pola Nirenska Award for Lifetime Achievement" at the Metro DC Dance Awards.
James "Jazzy Jim" Hughes
James L. Hughes has been teaching at Knock On Wood for the past 4 years. He is recognized for his melodic tap rhythms and inspired work as a soloist, teacher and choreographer. Jazzy Jim (as he is known by his peers and colleagues) helped develop a "Tap for Boys" program at KOW, where he is also a popular teacher of adult classes.
In 1986, Jim began taking tap at Cindy King Dance Studio. In 1993, he also began studying at Knock On Wood, where he honed his skills under the expert guidance of Yvonne Edwards, Studio Director and master tap dancer. James has continued his studies through master classes with professional tap artists such as Dianne Walker, Barbara Duffy, Brenda Bufalino, Robert Reed, Lane Alexander, Maurice Hines, Buster Brown and Dr. Henry LeTang, among others.
James has taught at Christian Dance Academy for 5 years and has brought dancers from there and from Knock On Wood together for an exchange of dance training (ballet and tap). Jazzy Jim's advanced tap students from Christian Dance Academy have also been showcased at Knock On Wood's "Open Mic Night."
In 1997, Jazzy Jim performed as a solo artist in Showstopper American Dance Championships and placed first. The legendary Peg Leg Bates told him after watching him dance at a Washington DC tap festival, "I like your dancing. You got good feet!" James performs at local venues, cabarets, local festivities, tapping for the Lord in church and inspirational dance productions, open mic nights and at National Tap Dance Day festivities.
Andrea Cossettini is a faculty member of Knock on Wood Tap Studio in Washington DC. She has been dancing since age 3, and has been lucky enough to study with masters like Dianne Walker, Jay
Fagan, Baakari Wilder, and many others. She is currently a performing member of Shannon Dunne Dance, a sean nos Irish dance company based in Silver Spring, MD. She's the founder and director of
the Percussive Dance Preservation Project, a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, dedicated to the support, development, and preservation of percussive dance in the United States. By day, she's
an audiologist with a local school district. She lives at home with the hedgehog, who rules the world, and his minion cats.
Agi Kovacs was born and raised in Hungary where as a young child she was selected to study at the Hungarian National Ballet Institute in Budapest, where she was trained in classical ballet, Hungarian folk dance and historical dances. She moved to the USA 20 years ago and started her own family here in DC. A few years later she started her dance career again, performing and teaching Sean Nos (old style Irish) dance to all ages. She has been a principal dancer with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble for the past 7 years and continues to travel around the world performing, teaching and spreading the joy of different percussive dance styles. Agi has performed at venues throughout DC, Maryland, Virginia, and New York, as well as in Canada, Ireland, and England. She also has been teaching at schools in DC/MD/VA and she is looking forward to another great year here at Knock On Wood Tap Studio.
Cindy Spishak began dancing at age 3 in Northern Virginia at Cuppett's Performing Arts Center. She spent 14 years dancing, performing, and competing tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, hip hop and Cecchetti. At age 14, she began teaching and coaching fellow students. After graduating from high school, Cindy attended the College of William and Mary where she performed with, taught, and managed the dance company Pointe Blank. During the summers, she trained and performed with various modern and jazz companies in Washington, DC and taught ballet, tap, and jazz in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a Business Degree in Operations and Information Technology with minors in Art and Art History, and continues to work as an IT Program Manager. Ms. Cindy joined Knock on Wood as a student in 2007 and gladly accepted a teaching position at the studio in January of 2008.
Lisa Swenton-Eppard (Founder/Artistic Director, Capitol Tap)
Raised in her mother's dance studio, Lisa Swenton-Eppard has spent all of her life learning dance. In addition to founding and directing Capitol Tap, Lisa is currently Director of Programming at Knock On Wood Tap Studio and adjunct professor at Bowie State University. She was featured in Dance Teacher Magazine in May 2015, selected as the "Teacher in the Spotlight" for Dance Studio Life Magazine in March/April 2013, and a recipient of two Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County grants. With 30 years teaching experience, Lisa is always looking to further her own tap education through classes, festivals, and intensives. Raised in the competition circuit, she went on to become a judge at dance competitions, and served on the committee as well as choreographed for a local Miss America pageant. Lisa's most recent positions include DC TapFest faculty for 2013, 2014, and 2015, assistant director of Tappers With Attitude Youth Ensemble from 2002-2010, Chloe and Maud Productions' Summer Tap Boot Camp faculty in 2010, Black Rock Center for the Arts faculty from 2002-2009, Step Aside Tap Company member from 2001-2006, and a selection committee member for the Metro DC Dance Awards for many years. Lisa holds a B.S. in Psychology from Frostburg State University.
Baakari Wilder (Assistant Artistic Director, Capitol Tap)
Baakari Wilder is internationally known for starring in the Broadway musical Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk. He received a Bessie Award for his performance, and later assumed the lead role for a year. At the age of twelve he opened the show at the Kennedy Center for a star-studded tap review that included the legendary Brenda Bufalino, Sandman Simms, Harold Nicholas, and Savion Glover. He was the first recipient of the Steve Condos Award, created by Lorraine Condos in honor of her late husband. At sixteen Baakari became a member of Savion Glover’s tap group “Real Tap Skills”, consisting of three other tap dancers from the metropolitan area. Baakari’s dancing has delighted audiences around the world in places such as the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, France, Africa, Brazil, Germany, and Japan. He appeared in Spike Lee's Bamboozled, the Discovery Channel’s “Time Warp”, and as a guest performer on FOX channel’s “So You Think You Can Dance”. Baakari has a Bachelors of Arts degree in theatre from the University of Maryland at College Park. He is the assistant artistic director of the Washington D.C. based company Capitol Tap. Baakari was recently granted the 2014 Pola Nirenska Award for Acheivement in Dance.
Rita M. Wilson has been dancing for over 20 years. She began studying at the Davis Center for the Arts and then moved on to the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet. In her late teen years, she joined Tappers With Attitude, which afforded her the opportunity to dance at the Apollo Theater. Since then, Rita has earned her BS degree in Business Management; her MBA, concentrating in Nonprofit Management; and is currently working on her MA, concentrating in Managerial Accounting. She has used her educational background to develop a nonprofit organization that aids in offering dance scholarships around Washington, DC. Rita has also formed a small tap company that rehearses in her home studio.
Michael Wooden began tapping at the age of 7 years old. He was one of the first members of Tappers With Attitude's Junior Company and moved quickly to the Core Company. Michael assisted TWA instructors Yvonne Edwards and Renee Kreithen ornamenting the dance for the Kennedy Center Honors to Shirley Temple in 1998. Michael has appeared at the Kennedy Center in the Brothers of the Night production under the direction of Debbie Allen. He has also performed a solo at the 11th Annual Capital Awards gala with guitarist Pepe Gonzales at the Strathmore. Michael has been teaching since the age of 13.
Saturday Studio Assistant