As seen on Sky1's Got To Dance, The Pulse Collective is a new-style tap company set to spearhead the future of tap dance in the 21st century.
So guys, let’s start at the beginning! Tell us a little bit about The Pulse Collective and why you all chose to form the group?
KANE: It was about time that a tap company were seen on a mainstream television show, pushing the boundaries and reminding the British public why they love tap dancing. So when Got To Dance got back in touch with me after appearing on their first series, it was the perfect opportunity to establish The Pulse Collective as a company that’s ready to make a much needed jolt in the dance scene.
EILIDH: I had just finished working on the 2012 Olympics and was looking for a new project. Kane had advertised that he was looking for tap dancers with a commercial edge, and I felt that I fitted the brief!
There’s quite a few of you in the group, how did you all meet one another?
KANE: As Eilidh mentioned, I sent out a casting across all of my social networks and before I knew it I had my company. I knew of Ryan and Eilidh and had seen them both at the London Tap Jam.
EILIDH: I knew Kane and Ryan from the 'tap circuit'. There's a really strong tap community in London, especially thanks to the London Tap Jam, where tappers of all levels can jam in a supportive environment and it was at this event that I first met Kane, Ryan and a few of the guys. Some of the other members were fresh out of college and I didn't know them at all, but Kane had a link with everyone and pulled us all together.
RYAN: Quite a few of us already knew each other individually though various jobs as well, I think it was just a case of coming together for a project we were all interested in.
You’re branded as a ‘new style tap company’, but what are your goals and objectives together as a group?
RYAN: To create tap work for a modern audience whilst upholding the integrity of our art form.
EILIDH: Tap dance is a well-loved art form, but mostly associated with theatre - we want to present tap dance in a more commercial way, influenced by current music trends and other street dance styles. Music videos, commercials, advertising campaigns, TV/film are all areas of the industry where we feel we could bring something edgy and new. Oh, and we wouldn't say no to our own show either!
KANE: Like the guys both said, to show that tap dancing is a commercially viable form of dance. That doesn’t mean adding a funky arm line to a step, but to really look into the styling, influences and branding of the company, making sure that every essence of The Pulse Collective is relevant and current, whilst still paying respect to our predecessors who paved the way, allowing us to do what we do.
You’ve got a large fan base of dancers who already look up to you, but who do you individually look up to for your dance inspiration?
EILIDH: When I was younger there were many great tappers that I was encouraged to learn about - Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis Jr, Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly to name a few - and through books/videos and then later Youtube they opened up a whole other world of tap dance to me. I think nowadays, however, my main inspiration comes from tappers that are still around today - Jason Samuel Smith, Chole Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, Heather Cornell, Savion Glover - these are tappers breaking boundaries of the art form and I have been lucky enough to train with them first hand.
KANE: Hard one. I seek inspiration from so many places, not necessarily just tappers. If I had to choose one…Michael Jackson was the first person who showed me what music looked like. He embodied rhythm, in every movement, he’d become a snare drum, a string concerto, a bass line.
RYAN: I'm inspired by so many people from the past and present. To name a few dancers: Jimmy Slyde, Bunny Briggs, Steve Condos, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Michelle Dorrance, Jason Samuels Smith, Sam Weber, plus so many more. Musicians inspire me too: Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Jurassic Five, James Brown....
Your company has an ‘A & B Team’, tell us a little more about it?
EILIDH: Our company is split into 2 teams - A and B. The A team is the go-to team for professional work and are featured on promotional material. Most of the A team are original members. The B team are a second team of tappers that are new to Pulse Collective, who train with us with a view to one day joining the A team.
RYAN: For sure. A team is the group of people ready for performance, B team are still in the process of developing their skills to the standard that we ask of them.
Does The Pulse Collective still take on new members, or are you a closed group?
KANE: If I find talent that I know will add an interesting dynamic to the company stylistically or someone who is just outstanding technically we always welcome them in. That’s what makes The Pulse Collective different, our member’s versatility. The only way this industry will ever evolve is for all of us to collaborate and get better as a community.
RYAN: We are always on the lookout for people to get involved. This industry creates a lot of instability in people's work and we have to accept that people will come and go. However the core team are very dedicated and put a lot of time and effort into the company.
EILIDH: We do also encourage people to come along to our workshops and classes, as that’s the most likely place that we’ll spot you!
Your group performed on Got To Dance, what was that experience like and what did you learn from it?
EILIDH: Getting to the semi-finals of GTD really pulled us together as a group, and gave us something to work towards, which I think every new company needs. It gave us a better focus and drive to succeed and the positive feedback we received was so encouraging - if it wasn't for that I'm not sure if we would still exist today!
RYAN: Got To Dance was an interesting experience. It's not something I’d want to repeat. They look after you well on the show, but when you have to create work that's only 90 seconds long you find that you have to make artistic sacrifices in order to try and win public votes. It was a learning experience.
KANE: I have history with the show. It put me on the map. It was my starting point on a journey that I’m still on now, to quite simply bring tap back. What did I learn? That you’ve got to go on a show like that purely with a view of exposure and expression. If you go to win, you’re either going to be completely made up, or extremely disappointed. You build your own opportunity and a show like Got To Dance is the perfect platform to create your empire.
Do you have any upcoming shows or events you’d like to share with us?
KANE: We’ve just recently launched our monthly intensive where advanced tappers can come into our rehearsal space and spend 3 intense hours working with the company. We’re also workshopping all over the UK. Other than that, we’re doing the odd appearance here and there, but right now our focus is on research and development. We’re creating lots of material, we can’t quite tell you what for yet. BUT watch this space and make sure you follow us on our social networks to find out all of the exciting news.
Finally, do you have any advice for other tap dancers out there?
EILIDH: Try and get to as many different classes and events as you can. There is a big emphasis on syllabus work in this country, which is fantastic, but add to these classes in different styles and using different steps and you'll be a force to be reckoned with!!
RYAN: If you love it, then stick at it! For me, tap is a way of expressing myself and it can also change my mood. If I'm having a bad day and I can get in a studio with my tap shoes, that day soon becomes a good day. Tap can be charming, impressive, technical, musical, powerful and beautiful. Find out what kind of dancer you are. Be a tap dancer, not just someone that knows some steps.
KANE: I’m 21 years old and working with some of the best tappers in the UK, learning every single day. We’re forever students and constantly developing. Don’t aim to be at the top, aim to always lead the way. Try. Fail. Learn. Repeat.
Thanks to The Pulse Collective for sharing with us. If you would like to find out more about the group check out their website at http://www.thepulsecollective.co.uk/ or find them on social media with their hashtag #RhythmArmy.