Tap Dancer Andrew Nemr Remembers Gregory Hines As A Patient, Sharp Mentor

Four months ago, the United States Postal Service issued the 42nd stamp in the Black Heritage series and honored Tony Award-winning entertainer Gregory Hines, who passed away in 2003 when he was 57 years old. Hines is best known for his work as a tap dancer and choreographer. However, he also made a name for himself as a singer and actor who secured work on Broadway, in movies and on television.

During his life, Hines influenced countless tap dancers and was even seen as a mentor to some of them, including Andrew Nemr, with whom he co-founded Tap Legacy Foundation, Inc. And, I recently had a chance to get a little glimpse into their mentorship from Nemr, whose reputation as a sought-out performer, teacher and speaker in various venues around the world keeps his feet–and his itinerary–busy throughout the year.

Andrew Nemr. TED Fellows Retreat 2015, August 26-30, 2015, Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, California. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

Q. How and when did you meet Gregory Hines?

A. I first met Gregory Hines when I was about 10 years old. It was a year after I saw the movie Tap and I had the opportunity to take a workshop from him. It was a dream come true.

Q. How long did he mentor you?

A. I start counting my mentorship with Greg from the time he gave me his email address. Prior to that, I was chasing him around, going to ever show and workshop I could. So, that was about six years from the moment he handed me a little piece of paper with his email address on it until he passed away.

Q. What stands out most in your mind about your relationship or time you were able to study with him?

A. Gregory was patient and generous, but also really sharp. He never imposed a particular idea on me, as in “I think you should be doing this or that,” but always offered guidance from his vast experience. He shared his time and knowledge without demand for reciprocity, and was always interested in how I was as a person, not only a dancer.

Q. Are you currently teaching? If so, where, what and who are you teaching?

A. Yes! I really enjoy opportunities to share what I’ve learned. I teach a few classes at the Vancouver Tap Dance Society’s Academy in Vancouver, Canada, where I’m currently the Artistic Director. And, I continue to travel to teach workshops. This year, I’ll be in Atlanta, Stockholm, and Barcelona for teaching events.

If you’re a dancer or dance teacher and would like to benefit from what Nemr has learned throughout his many years as a performer–as well as through his mentorship with Gregory Hines and others–consider attending an event at which he’ll be teaching in the coming months. Among those that are currently on his itinerary are the Dance Life Teacher Conference in Atlantic City, NJ (July 19-21); the above-referenced Tap On Barcelona Festival* (July 22-28); and the Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival (August 26-September 1). Visit http://www.andrewnemr.com today to find out more about each event.

*The Tap On Barcelona early bird discount ends on May 31. So, consider signing up for that event today to take advantage of the special registration deal.

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