Born in the Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, tap artist Ayodele Casel, is an incandescent practitioner, deep scholar, sought-after educator, and bold advocate and activist for her art form. A passionately collaborative artist not only is she generous in her appreciation for the musicians and dancers, such as such as Latin jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill, with whom she shares the stage, she is also fiercely dedicated to recognizing, and revealing the overlooked history -- and contributions of Black women -- in tap. Doing so, she illuminates for audiences’ tap’s rich lineage, its intellect, intricacy, and soul.

For Casel, committed as much to those who are coming up as to those who have come before, mentorship - personal and artistic development of young artists - is central in her life. Giving voice to the stories of others weaves throughout her work in both movement vocabulary and spoken word. In her one-woman show, While I Have The Floor, she talked about her journey to reclaim language, culture, identity, and expression through the art of tap dance, and set in motion her mission to tell her story, encouraging others to do the same. Following this, in Diary of a Tap Dancer, she included the voices and experiences of unnamed women tap dancers within a broader historical context.

Drawing on Diary during the pandemic, Casel, along with frequent collaborator Torya Beard, conceived and curated a series of video works performed by a multigenerational and multicultural group of artists. Together, they also created the Bessie Award winning dance film, Chasing Magic, celebrating human connection grounded in friendship, culture, trust, and joy. 


“I've always been compelled to disrupt the gender stereotypes within the art of tap and live in a way that celebrates the full expression of my identity in life and in art. I believe tap dancing sits squarely in the center of social justice, gender, race, popular culture, music, and politics.”

photo ©Michael Higgins