Anthony Lo Cascio
Narrative and Interview by Aspen Holmes
Anthony Lo Cascio is a tap dancer from Howard Beach, New York. He was born May 12, 1972, and has been performing, teaching, and touring in tap dance since 1994.
Steps on Broadway, in a recent website feature, covers Anthony’s experience traveling and opening in many shows throughout his career: “This native New Yorker, has performed, taught, and toured internationally as a tap dancer since 1994. He has opened shows for people such as Shirley Bassey, Natalie Cole, Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder. Anthony has made appearances on, Regis & Kathie Lee, Good Day New York, and MTV Live to name a few. He has been performing and teaching in all 50 states, as well as Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Monte Carlo” (Steps on Broadway). Anthony was a part of the production Tap Dogs. He was the very first American to be given a standing role in the show. His role was often “The Enforcer.” He performed with them for about 17 years, ending the tour internationally in 2013.
Anthony has frequently taught in many conventions and festivals all over the United States. He was a competition judge for 20 years and adjudicated at competitions internationally. He often works with singer/songwriter Frank Persico. Most of his current projects are associated with Persico. He is well known for his choreography. One of his most successful works was his tap choreography in the music video “Eyes” (a song written by Frank Persico). Anthony has also choregraphed for many studio competition routines and recitals. He is very invested in the process of creating dance as an art form. Aside from choreographing, Anthony has been a local instructor in New York, offering classes at Broadway Dancer Center.
“Class starts with a warm-up, then we go across the floor or have a “tweak and clean” session. Typically, we will do a canon, cross rhythm, or, on proper occasion, a phrase. We finally finish up with a combination that would properly fit our class. You CANNOT show your students something, you have to be able to teach it to them. Since I try to practice what I preach, I properly break down a step, give you both the counts and tap terms, and take the time to treat transitions with the attention they are sometimes lacking. My hope is that you leave class feeling like you really learned something and have a possible newfound love and appreciation for tap” (Broadway Dancer Center).
Anthony has also created his own tap company, #TapLife. They offer many different opportunities within the company. Classes, events, concentrated companies, and fundraisers are all offered. Classes are offered in studio with styles such as tap, musical theatre, and acrobatics. Private lessons are also available. Some of these lessons can even take place in your own home in NYC. The instructors travel through a variety of states in America throughout the year. Anthony is also the artistic director for the #TapLife company. The #TapLife company “provides education and events including in-studio workshops” (#TapLife Company). The company books for various events. There are options to book for “private parties, trade shows, corporate events, gala openings, charity events, school shows, rest homes and more.” Tap Life also offers #TapLife Remote, a mentorship and consulting program for tap students and teachers/studio owners. It is a way to empower and motivate dancers. Each dancer that is interested fills out an application and are interviewed to make sure they are a good fit. According to the company website, from there, faculty and staff “will help you develop personalized goals and set up a plan to achieve your ideal #Taplife. During each session, you’ll get feedback, insight, and guidance on your work. Conversations will focus on addressing your goals-whether for yourself, your students, or your studio.”
Anthony also created a charity for tap dancers called #TapLife Hero Foundation. Its mission is to create opportunities for people to get together and experience tap dance. The charity is used to fund an annual National Tap Day Celebration. It allows tap dancers to come together and work with many professionals in the dance industry. Tee shirt fundraising is one of the ways to donate to the #TapLife Hero Foundation.
I conducted my Zoom Interview with Anthony LoCascio in a study room at Texas Tech University and Anthony appeared to be in the dining room area of his house. Anthony was completely invested during the interview. He never dropped his facial expression once. He was either smiling or using different expressions to emphasize the points he was making. He took a casual approach to the questions I asked and gave genuine responses. His points created in every question were captivating and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to interview Anthony LoCascio.
How and where do you find inspiration?
Anthony began by describing how inspiration can expound from anything. He states, “You never know where it’s going to come from. It could come from an animal, it could come from a tree, you never know.” He talks about the importance of maintaining an open mindset when it comes to finding inspiration by emphasizing “the idea of being open to what everyday life brings you.” He used many hand gestures when speaking on the importance of inspiration. His interest sparked and he became fully invested in the question and ideas that were brought to his mind. I enjoyed listening to his open mindset idea, and he seemed very appreciative when I also dove into his idea of inspiration. His reply gave me more motivation to allow inspiration to come to me instead of trying to search for it.
What are the steps you take in making a new dance?
Anthony opened this question with a quote from his wife, Stacey: “Every situation has its own individual circumstances.” He used this quote to explain how “the music is the inspiration and other times the choreography is the inspiration.” Each piece has a completely different process, which ties back to the same idea of keeping an open mindset towards inspiration. He emphasizes that, “sometimes it’s about just playing a song, so the process is different every time and you just have to open yourself up to the idea that different things come in different ways.” Anthony also explains that “there is nothing wrong with trying new methods, you shouldn’t lock yourself into one way of doing things.” Having too many limits can hinder the creativity of your work. Along with the idea of limits, Anthony also made a point about how simplicity can be great. This less-is-more idea was extremely relevant to our conversation. He talked about a modern group that used an envelope as a simple motif in its performance, asserting, “you can create really interesting stories around simple ideas.”
What is your process for selecting and working with dancers or dance students?
Anthony described that “sometimes you need dancers that fit into the material that you’re creating and other times you just want to get really inspirational dancers. The diameter of want is always changing when selecting performers.” He also mentioned that you often need someone who can simply handle the choreography. Some people more technical ability, but others match the energy that a choreographer is looking for. Anthony said, “I audition their personalities and energy and sometimes if we know they aren’t the best, we truly want them to just get better and watch them grow.” It is important for them to experience a professional world/atmosphere. He described that “some dancers fit the spectrum of what we are looking for and some don’t which there is nothing wrong with.” He continued to say that the most successful are those with the strongest work ethic. It’s not always about talent, even though that helps.
What does success mean to you in your role as a choreographer, teacher, and producer?
Anthony emphasized that one of the most successful feelings he can feel as a choreographer is knowing he evoked an emotion out of someone. This is what truly makes the material successful: “The material was successful because it created the thought process and others attached it to a real-life experience.” Anthony also talked about how much appreciation can make someone feel successful. Accepting the piece for what it is shows true appreciation. He also said this idea “happens so often you start to take an outside perspective on your own life and learn about it and then become more of a mentor to yourself and to others.” This helped LoCasio find true success by seeing it from a human’s eye and appreciative perspective rather than going on and on about dance and athleticism. Anthony also explained how seeing dance from an art perspective is helpful when choreographing with the intent to change lives. It is not about a trophy or a score received from someone. “Dance as an art is meant to evoke emotion or an objective to the circumstance presented.” He emphasized again how changing the lives of other and provoking emotion was the meaning of dance.
What have been your biggest successes as a teacher and biggest challenge as a choreographer?
Anthony stressed that his entire focus is on the individual he spends the hour or so with in the class: “If I can awaken that soul, inspire that soul, and empower that soul, then the studio’s going to be happy, the parents are going to be happy, and they are going to appreciate my approach to teaching.” He explained that he is not their babysitter, he is there to blow their minds daily and inspire them. That is how he feels success from a teaching standpoint. Another example of success Anthony feels from teaching is the consistency he brings. He once asked his students to talk about their impression of him. He said, “Consistently, I would get that you never treat us like children, you always make us feel special and that we have learned something from you.” He said his students described it as human-to-human connection rather than as an authority figure giving endless commands. He makes his students feel a part of the process and conversation. While they still respect him as a teacher, this approach gives his students more freedom to feel inspired. It is all about inspire and not just teaching a step and moving on.
Anthony explains that one of the biggest challenges as a choreographer is knowing why you are choreographing. You could be choreographing for a recital, dance competition, or for a show, Anthony says, but “the challenge is always remembering to take the temperature of the situation and asking questions to understand the other person’s goals.” Continuing to stay reasonable and transparent in the request is vital as a choreographer. As for success, Anthony says when people pay homage to something he was involved in, it is impactful. Once again, it proves that evoking an emotion and inspiring people can make someone feel extremely successful. Anthony enjoys allowing the dancer or performer to be a part of the selection process when choreographing for them. He lets them be quite involved in the song selection to ensure the piece is a part of them and not just steps being taught. Anthony ended the question by mentioning that when both he and the performers are invested, it gives them complete control on the outcome.
What are your hopes for the field and for yourself?
Anthony began his answer by discussing how the social media platform Tik Tok is changing the dance community, saying that “we used to follow Michael Jackson and all these different muses on big stages and now we follow someone creating something so small on an electronic device in their room.” While it can be beneficial, it can be quite weird seeing how the evolution of dance inspiration has evolved. He brings the idea full circle by explain how etiquette is timeless: “Etiquette doesn’t transcend time unless something drastic changes to make it necessary to change it.” The culture is created by the judges and teachers we are surrounded by.
Anthony and I both agreed that the classical perspective of dance needs to stay forever. It is the foundation of training and foundation of our legacies. Time will change, it is inevitable, but having a grasp from the roots we originally learned from is more important than trying to learn primarily from recent social media. Many are losing the idea of a classical foundation and we both believe it is the most important thing. It is something that can never be changed or altered. It will always be a bone to fall back on and rely on.
Takeaways: Anthony LoCascio’s Impact
Anthony Lo Cascio is a treasure in the dance community. He has a genuine approach to dance, and it is clear tap is one of his biggest passions. He answered all my questions thoughtfully and was extremely captivating. I never lost interest once during the interview and I learned a lot about Anthony during our interview. His perspective on teaching and choreographing is quite insightful. He truly cares about all his students and performers and wants everyone to gain as much experience as possible. He pushes his students to be better versions of themselves and teaches valuable lessons to them. Anthony is always willing to give them advice on anything dance industry related. He is extremely transparent on the challenges he experiences and knows how to navigate the hardships of being a choreographer. Anthony uses these experiences to find the most success possible. However, Anthony views success differently than some others in the field. The connection he makes with his audience is far more important than any score or trophy given by a judge. He strives to evoke and emotion or relation when he puts on a performance. He truly wants the audience to feel something and find a time in their life they can use to connect to the piece they are watching.
Anthony’s #TapLife company is astonishing. It allows tap dancers to experience professional training. Each of their instructors are invested in all the students and show true passion in dance. Anthony and his company go the extra mile to make sure everyone receives new experience. #TapLife company is another way for tap dancers to get together and experience dance in new ways. Anthony’s charity program, #TapLife Hero Foundation, helps fundraise so that more tap dancers can experience professional training and have more opportunities in the dance field. His company is beneficial to all tap dancers wanting professional training and new experiences.
Anthony is very important to the dance field. He is an inspiration to so many people. His tap dancing has inspired people to try new things and even take a first tap class. I ended the interview feeling inspired to make a change in the dance world and to take risks in making new experiences. I am thankful to have had this opportunity to interview Anthony. It was a great pleasure.
Video of Anthony Lo Cascio’s Work:
#TapLife Website: https://taplifecompany.com/home
Lo Cascio, Anthony. “#TapLife Company, #TapLife Remote, #TapLife Hero Foundation.” #Taplife Company, Anthony Lo Cascio, https://taplifecompany.com/%23taplife-company.
Lo Cascio, Anthony. “Anthony LoCascio, Faculty Bio.” Broadway Dance Center, 26 June 2019, https://www.broadwaydancecenter.com/faculty/anthony-locascio.
Lo Cascio, Anthony. “Faculty Bio: Anthony Locascio: Steps on Broadway: Dance Teacher.” Steps on Broadway, 18 June 2019, https://www.stepsnyc.com/faculty/bio/Anthony-LoCascio/.
Walling, Kathie. “Anthony LoCascio Profile and Fan Site.” Tap Dancing Resources, http://www.tapdancingresources.com/dancers/anthony-locascio/.