Michelle Dorrance, a white woman wearing a black leotard, tap dances on a darkly lit stage.
The Spark

The Spark with Tift Merritt: Michelle Dorrance

Virtual Event
April 8, 2021
7:30 PM EDT

Registration for this event closes at 12 PM EDT on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Available on-demand for all ticketholders for 72 hours, beginning on April 8, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT. 
Suggested ticket donation (per household) is $15. Tickets available starting at $0.

Join us for the sixth episode of The Spark with Tift Merritt, featuring Michelle Dorrance: world-renowned tap dancer, choreographer, founder and artistic director of Dorrance Dance, and Chapel Hill native. 

In this livestreamed series, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and UNC alumna Tift Merritt returns to Carolina Performing Arts to take us behind the scenes in artist-to-artist video interviews that delve deep into the creative process. 

On April 8, Tift will sit down with Dorrance for a livestreamed conversation touching on her career, hometown, and much more. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Doris Duke Fellow, and Bessie Award winner, Dorrance’s influence on the dance community reaches far beyond her local roots. A graduate of NYU, Dorrance has danced in STOMP, taught at the Broadway Dance Center, and guest lectured at universities and tap festivals around the world. 

She has performed on the Carolina Performing Arts season numerous times, with performances that include The Blues Project with Toshi Reagon. Dorrance is committed not only to innovative performance, but also to contextualizing her craft, grounding her work in a deep history of tap from African-derived dances to contemporary greats.

How do you light a spark? How do you make something true? How does art happen? What is mumbled on the way in the studio and how can we hear it? 

Welcome to The Spark.

Tift Merritt

Runtime: approximately 60 minutes, including audience Q&A. Recording of CPA virtual events is not permitted. Registration for this event closes at 12 PM EDT on April 8, 2021. If you have questions or concerns related to accessibility, please contact us. You can also check out our livestream events guide




The Spark with Tift Merritt logo

About The Spark

Based on the series Merritt produced for the acclaimed Marfa, Texas Public Radio, The Spark peels back the polished performance to reveal the elbow grease, risk, fire, and courage behind the art—and artists—we think we know. Each month, Tift will welcome a new artist for a 45-minute livestreamed conversation that gets to the heart of their work, followed by a 15-minute audience Q&A. 

About the Artists

About Michelle Dorrance

Michelle Dorrance is the founder and artistic director of Dorrance Dance. Mentored by Gene Medler (North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble), she studied under many of the last master hoofers. Her career highlights include: STOMP, Derick Grant’s Imagine Tap!, and Jason Samuels Smith’s Charlie’s Angels/Chasing the Bird, amongst many others.

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Dorrance’s favorite company work includes: Savion Glover’s Ti Dii, Manhattan Tap, Barbara Duffy and Co., JazzTap Ensemble, and Max Pollak’s Rumba Tap. A 2018 Doris Duke Artist, 2017 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, and 2015 MacArthur Fellow, Dorrance is humbled to have been acknowledged and supported by United States Artists, the Joyce Theater, New York City Center, the Alpert Awards, Jacob’s Pillow, Princess Grace Foundation, The Field, American Tap Dance Foundation, and the Bessie Awards. Dorrance holds a B.A. from New York University and is a Capezio Athlete.

Artist Tift Merritt looks to the side with a slight smile.

About Tift Merritt

Called “a diamond in a coal mine” by Emmylou Harris, Tift Merritt has been compared to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor in a proud tradition that reaches back to Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry. A Raleigh native, Merritt played local haunts like Cats Cradle and The Cave before her debut album Bramble Rose soared to the Times and New Yorker top ten lists.

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Since then, Merritt has toured world-wide, opening for Joan Baez and appearing on Austin City Limits, the Grand Ole Opry, and NPR. She returned home to make her Carolina Performing Arts debut in the 17/18 season with a sold-out performance. She began hosting The Spark in over a decade ago for Marfa Texas Public Radio, where it garnered instant acclaim from artists and audiences alike.

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