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Artistic director’s passion for tap runs in family

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Coming from a family of dancers, it’s almost as if the rhythm is in Alyson Meador’s genes. Meador, of Rocklin, grew up in a household of dancers – her mother was a member of the New York Rockettes and her father was a part-time ballroom dance instructor. Her own dance career began at the young age of 7. Ever since, Meador has been in the dance arena, particularly focused on tap. “I have such a strong love of tap,” she said. “That’s an important part of my family and growing up.” That love resulted in her creation of Sound Out Tap Company four years ago, a tap group under the umbrella of Stages Northern California Performing Arts that is broken down into different dance specialties. Meador, 47, holds the title of artistic director for Sound Out, working on choreography, music, costume and set design for the upcoming show: “The Rhythms of Christmas,” A City Celebration. “It’s really fun, it’s upbeat, it’s tap,” said Sherry Melchers, tap instructor at Hawkins School of Performing Arts in Folsom (where Stages is housed). “It’s rhythmic fun.” Melchers has known Meador for approximately seven years. “There are very few people like her (Meador),” she said. “She has an incredible imagination. She’s just super clever.” Meador said the Christmas shows develop from “whatever my imagination says every year.” This year’s show will feature traditional holiday music intertwined with classic songs about New York City. As a tribute to her mother, the show features a 15-person, four-minute Rockette piece set in Central Park that was polished and perfected by Karida Griffith, a former Rockette. The dancers were taught precision of the Rockette’s kick and walk, Meador said. Every year Meador strives to bring in top-notch tap dancers to teach her students and give them an idea of the professional dance world. “It’s (tap) different. It’s roots are different,” Meador said. “It’s kind of an art that has to be shared. The people that have a passion for tap, they want to share it to keep the passion alive. They go around and want to touch other studios.” Melchers agreed with Meador’s tap theory. “Tap is all about sharing: instructor to instructor, instructor to student, student to student,” she said. Some of Meador’s former students have gone on to join the Rockettes, dance on Broadway and major in dance, she said. She sees students from all over the area, reaching to Sacramento, El Dorado Hills, Citrus Heights and Granite Bay. This year’s holiday performance features 28 Sound Out tappers, ages 9 to 17, alongside other dancers within Stages. Even though this is Meador’s fourth producton, she still recalls her first performance. “It was pure exhaustion,” she said. “The excitement is amazing.” In addition to the annual show, Meador is also involved in a project that collects tap shoes for underprivileged children and she also works with adults over 60 years old (the eldest dancer is an 87-year-old woman from Lincoln), teaching them tap. They call themselves the “Lincoln Diamonds” and consist of adults, some with no dance experience. Meador said their goal isn’t about performing though. “They want to show women there’s not a stopping point in life,” Meador said. With dance consuming much of Meador’s everyday life, it’s obvious she’s doing something she enjoys. “You’ve got to have passions in life,” she said. What: “Rhythms of Christmas” When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 Where: Whitney High School, 701 Wildcat Blvd. in Rocklin Tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for children and students with ID Info: 355-8080 or www.stages-performingarts.org