Who We Are


Credit: Jonathan Goell
Credit: Jonathan Goell

Yvonne Edwards

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 60 years. Ms. Yvonne, the co-founder of Knock On Wood Tap Studio, has taught master classes at the International Conference of Black Dance in Atlanta, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the New York City Tap Festival, and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Her choreography is included in the repertoire of Capitol Tap and before that she choreographed pieces for Tappers With Attitude (the original tap performing ensemble at Knock on Wood Tap Studio that group is now inactive).

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 the "Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Award for Education" at the Executives' 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.


Knock On Wood Tap Faculty


Jessyka Bagdon

 

Jessyka Bagdon grew up in New Hampshire where she studied dance and theatre from an early age. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts in dance from Dean College. Jessyka has had the pleasure of studying a wide variety of dance styles, including Tap (Broadway, Rhythm), Jazz (Luigi, Fosse), Ballet (Vaganova, Cechetti, Balanchine), Modern (Release, Limon, Graham, Horton), Contemporary, Pointe, and Musical Theatre Dance. She has also had training in Hip Hop, Street Funk and Ballroom.

 

Jessyka has experience teaching an array of dance styles, spanning all levels and ages, from toddler through adult. Jessyka has completed Teacher Training School of Dance Masters of America - level two. She served as the choreographer for the 2014 New Hampshire Professional Theatre Association Auditions and was honored to perform with the American Tap Dance Foundation at the City Center in 2014. She spent time training in NYC, while bringing ballet to underprivileged public school children as a Teaching Artist for the American Repertory Ballet, and working as an instructor, choreographer, and production assistant at various dance and performance organizations in northern New Jersey. Jessyka is currently on faculty as a teaching artist with multiple Washington D.C. area arts organizations, including Joy of Motion Dance Center, Knock On Wood Tap Studio, and Perfect Pointe Dance Studio. She is the director of Jazz Corps, a youth performance company at JOM, in addition to an active performing member of District Tap and SOLEdarity tap dance companies.


Photo by Jon Goell.
Photo by Jon Goell.

Miles Brown

 

Bio coming soon.


Gigi Buscaglio

 

Gigi Buscaglio, a native Washingtonian, has performed as a featured singer/dancer at such prominent venues as The Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Farm Park, Blues Alley Night Club, The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and many other private events in the DC area. She has toured nationally, in repertoire, with The National Players acting company, appearing in Richard III, The Miser, and the musical The Boys from Syracuse. Internationally, Gigi was a featured performer in a USO show, performing a rock-and-roll review for U.S. troops in Germany and Italy.

 

Gigi has also taught music, dance, and theatre and directed and choreographed for over 25 years at some of the most prestigious Washington area studios and schools, including: Feet First Dance Studio, The Wheaton Studio of Dance, Peters Studio of Dance, DC Dance Collective, The Woods Academy, Imagination Stage, Walter Johnson High School, Churchill High School, Georgetown Visitation High School, and Holton-Arms Academy.

 

Currently, Gigi also teaches music and creative movement for infants to 5-year olds at The Goddard School in Urbana, Maryland. She also teaches a parent and child class at Knock On Wood Tap Studio and leads many young children-related special events. Her 25-year association with Knock On Wood and the love for and from Ms. Yvonne, Miss Mary Lou Peters, and the tap community are the most cherished gems of Miss Gigi’s life. Tap dancing is her most favorite thing to do in the world.


Victoria Dillon

 

Victoria Dillon has been dancing since the age of 3, which is probably the first time she saw the Rockettes in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from her home in Buffalo, NY. Trained in tap, jazz, ballet and contemporary, she performed across Western New York before attending Syracuse University. There, she joined many dance companies and became an early member of Orange Pulse, a company just as committed to dance as to philanthropy.

Her career brought her to Washington where she served as a spokesman for leaders on Capitol Hill and in the Obama Administration. Despite her day job, dance was in her blood.

In 2015, she dusted off her tap shoes and joined the Artistic Rhythms Alliance. She has performed at the NCAA Kickoff Classic halftime show at the Meadowlands, is a regular performer at A Holiday SpecTAPular, a holiday tap show bringing together more than 100 local dancers, and has appeared in countless performances around the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, including with Savion Glover.

Victoria has shared her love of dance teaching for 4 years at Sitar Arts Center, a non-profit arts center dedicated to bringing the arts to students of all backgrounds and reaching 800 students each year, 80% of whom come from low-income households. She believes strongly in the power of the arts as a way to bring people together and to teach respect, control, joy – and if you’re a tapper, how to listen!


Max Heimowitz

 

Max began tap dancing when he was 5 as a student at Knock On Wood Tap Studio. After several years of classes, he joined Capitol Tap as a founding member in 2010, and since then, he and his brother Sam have performed both with Capitol Tap and independently at a variety of venues. In 2013, they booked their first professional gig at Arena Stage, cast as featured performers in Maurice Hines’ Tappin’ Thru Life. Since then, they have performed at the Kennedy Center (both the Eisenhower Theater and the Millennium Stage) and several tap festivals on the East Coast. In the summer of 2017, Max was selected as one of 25 dancers from around the world to attend the prestigious Tap Program at the School at Jacob’s Pillow under the direction of Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. Additionally, he and his brother also perform at nursing homes, homeless shelters, street festivals and religious institutions, and they teach a free pre-school tap class at CentroNia in Takoma Park. Max has been greatly influenced by Lisa Swenton-Eppard, founder/artistic director of Capitol Tap, Baakari Wilder, assistant artistic director of Capitol Tap, Yvonne Edwards, co-founder of Knock On Wood Tap Studio, as well as Sarah Reich, Michelle Dorrance, Brenda Bufalino, and Chloe and Maud Arnold. Aside from tap dancing, Max is a full-time dually-enrolled senior at School Without Walls high school, meaning that he takes all of his classes at George Washington University. He loves learning languages, and currently studies both Arabic and French. If you take one of his classes, you might just hear him count in another language, as he shares his knowledge of tap history or breaks down a step with each of his students. He is thrilled that he gets the opportunity each week to share his passion with his students, whether they be adults or teenagers, and he hopes to see you in class!


Sam Heimowitz

 

Sam began dancing at 4 years old, grew up at Knock on Wood Tap Studio, and is a member of Capitol Tap. Performances include Tappin’ Thru Life with Maurice Hines at Arena Stage in Washington, DC; DC College Access Talent Competition at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater (where he won $2000 for college for his performance); Rockin’ in Rhythm (NYC) debut of Charlestwins, Sam and his identical twin brother’s own choreography to The Charleston; Tap City Student Showcase in NYC; Jersey TapFest in Bloomfield, NJ; Beantown TapFest in Massachusetts; and numerous performances with Capitol Tap in the Metro DC area. He has appeared at nursing homes, homeless shelters, schools, street festivals and religious institutions and is teaching a tap preschool class at CentroNia in Takoma Park. Sam has been greatly influenced by Lisa Swenton-Eppard, Founder/Artistic Director of Capitol Tap, Baakari Wilder, Assistant Artistic Director of Capitol Tap, Yvonne Edwards, Co-Founder of Knock on Wood Tap Studio, Hillary-Marie Michael, Sarah Reich, Michelle Dorrance, and Chloe and Maud Arnold. He has taken piano lessons and has competed in gymnastics in addition to being an 11th grade honor student at School Without Walls in Washington, DC, and at the same time a freshman at George Washington University. Sam continues to choreograph pieces by himself and with his brother and is very excited to share his knowledge with KOW students!


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.


Katharine Manor

 

Raised in the Rockville, MD/DC Metro area, Katharine has been studying tap dance since the age of 4 under the watchful eye of DC’s Tap Lady, Miss Yvonne Edwards. With an emphasis on musicality, cleanliness/clarity of sound, and improvisation over ‘”flash” and acrobatics, Katharine studied for 18 years with some of the most accomplished and knowledgeable tap dancers in the country. This list includes Baakari Wilder, Lisa Swenton-Eppard (Capitol Tap), Dianne Walker, Jason Samuel Smith, Derrick Grant, Sarah Reich, Chloe and Maud Arnold (The Syncopated Ladies), Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Michelle Dorrance, Joseph Webb, the late Harold Cromer and others.

 

Katharine was a member of Knock On Wood Tap Studio’s Tappers With Attitude (TWA) and is currently a member of Capitol Tap. She has participated in many tap festivals and cutting contests over the last decade including the annual DC Tap Festival, Syncopated Ladies Boot Camp and the New Jersey Tap Festival, where she won 1st place in 2014 and received a scholarship to the Los Angeles Tap Festival.

 

As an African-American dancer and scholar, Katharine’s work often focuses on matters of social justice, equality and historical accuracy, and shows her love for tradition.

 

Katharine performed in the 2016 American Dance Festival College Association SE Conference, the 2016 Black Theatre Network Conference and now tours with Davis & Elkins alumna, singer-songwriter Kaia Kater, who was featured in The Rolling Stones’ “top ten upcoming artists” 2016 review. She also presented at the APAP conference in New York City.

 

Katharine Manor has BA in American Vernacular Dance from Davis & Elkins College, where she studied with professors Laurie Goux, Becky Hill, and Emily Oleson.


LeeAnet Noble

 

LeeAnet Noble, a former member of Tappers With Attitude, is an internationally critically acclaimed choreographer, tap dancer, actor, and percussionist. She played leading roles in NYC hit shows STOMP and Drumstruck and can be seen in Disney's Lion King experience series. LeeAnet has worked with and/or opened for Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani and more. Her work choreographing, casting and performing in Rick Owens Paris Fashion Week show made headlines worldwide and is currently on display at Barneys on Madison Avenue. Her original productions have been seen at The Kennedy Center, Madison Square Garden and more. She authored a book this year titled “Momager: What it Takes” about her experience in the arts (currently on sale at Amazon).

 


Carrie Smith

 

Carrie has been dancing since 1985. She first studied ballet at St. Mark’s Dance Studio at the age of 5. She explored other dance genres at Fran’s Studio of Dance in Oxon Hill, MD, where she studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, drama. Carrie was also a member of the P.M. Dance Company for 4 years under the direction of Fran Peters. She successfully competed locally and nationally for solo and group performances.

 

While attending Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, she was co-captain of the Pom Squad for 2 years and created choreography for the hip hop and the lyrical routines. Carrie enrolled in classes at Knock on Wood Tap Studio, where she became a member of Tappers With Attitude under the direction of Yvonne Edwards and Renee Kreithen. Carrie had the opportunity to take lessons from many tap masters such as Lane Alexander, Bakaari Wilder, Jeannie Hill, Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino, and Jimmy Slyde. While at Trinity College, she joined the adult dance company Step Aside, as well as Artistic Rhythms Alliance (ARA). Besides being a part of dance companies, Carrie also has been sharing her dance through teaching. She has taught before at KOW, Concepts of Motivation at Olney Studio of Dance, Body Rhythms Performing Arts, and Joe’s Movement Emporium.

 

Carrie is also an IT Specialist with the Department of the Treasury.


Lisa Swenton-Eppard

Director of Programming, Knock On Wood; Founder/Artistic Director, Capitol Tap & District 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.


Candace Turitto

Candace’s dance life started – like most do – at a very young age, and has covered a wide range of disciplines, including tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, modern, hip-hop and pom. She has been dancing for over 25 years as part of performing troupes, dance teams, and competition teams, and has been a choreographer and instructor for over 10 years.

As a teenager, Candace attended the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts, where she studied Musical Theater and served as the group’s dance captain. As a member of the group’s select troupe, she traveled to Japan for a performance tour, and participated in dozens of Broadway revues and shows, including Will Roger’s Follies and Chicago. At the collegiate level, Candace was a member of the James Madison University Dukettes, a very competitive and nationally ranked dance team. Over the years, she has studied with several notable choreographers, including Baakari Wilder (Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, original cast) and Denise Wall (Denise Wall’s Dance Energy), and her own routines have received several awards at both regional and national competitions, for both choreography and high scores. Candace is also a current and founding member of the historic adult performance company District Tap, and is a sought-after instructor across the DC Metro area.

Candace received her Bachelor’s Degree from James Madison University, and has years of political campaigning experience, from campaign management to media consulting. She returned to academia in 2010 to receive a Masters Degree from the University of Maryland, where she is also currently pursuing her Ph.D. in American Politics and Statistics, and is projected to complete her graduate work in 2017.


Photo: Enoch Chan
Photo: Enoch Chan

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 12, 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 16, 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 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 theater from the University of Maryland at College Park. He is the Assistant Artistic Director of the Washington, DC based company, Capitol Tap. Baakari was recently granted the 2014 Pola Nirenska Award for Achievement in Dance.


Rita Wilson

 

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

 

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.