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Terry Pollard

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble


Categories: Dance, Music, Storytelling

Dates: September 9, 2023 - September 10, 2023

Run Time: 60 mins

Venue: Sound Space Performing Arts


Terry Pollard: A Jazz Epistolary is a piece about bebop, influence, how opportunity knocks across genders, the jazz and tap dance scene in the 1950s, communication, what’s said and unsaid, and really, nothing new. While we can only imagine how much Terry had to persevere as a black female jazz musician and mother in the 1950s, the experience of surviving in the competitive forum of jazz music and art-making, alongside the experience of bearing children, having that divided body experience of needing to be at home when one’s work demands you be seen, out, at all hours, and taking care of a family while making one’s art, in any male-dominated field, hasn’t changed much. Terry’s story is just one of countless jazz stories out there, scattered like obelisks, where a woman’s prodigious lifetime contributions are simply described in one or two words: “overlooked,” “unappreciated,” “under-rated.” The history of jazz is the history of tap dance and is the history of America. The passed-on legacy ultimately is about what our American society pays attention to and values, what we are made to hear, literally, and most importantly, the platforms that have been built upon which names are spoken, or not. We tell Terry’s story through tap dance, jazz music and original singing telegrams to real and imagined characters who shaped the trajectory of her very important life.

About the Artist

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble tells stories through tap dance, jazz music, text and vocussion. The stories of what came before us live through us and create our future in jazz. We advance the scope of American tap dance and jazz music traditions through current choreography, modern compositions, progressive performances and accessible environments and contexts for the work.

We represent tap dance as an art form of the African Diaspora.

We root our work in improvisation, in the tradition of jazz, with the goal of innovation instead of imitation.

We collaborate with musicians to work towards a new collective sound.

We dismantle racism through our inquiry of tap dance in America: by creating equitable opportunities in music and dance.



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