Michela Marino Lerman ranks among the very finest tap dancers in the world today. Since debuting on Sesame Street at the age of 5, she has dazzled audiences by her extraordinary rhythmic expression and musical sensibility – Michela makes jazz music with her feet. The Huffington Post has described her as “a hurricane of rhythm so tightly syncopated it caused many jaws to drop.”
In recent years, Michela has performed around the world; appeared on US national television; been featured in widely-released documentary films about tap; been commissioned to produce, direct, and star in shows; danced in industrial productions; been profiled extensively in the media; choreographed many performances and full-length works; received numerous awards; tapped in nearly every leading jazz venue in New York, taught in scores of schools and dance studios locally and globally; and made great progress in her personal quest to bring jazz and tap closer together, as they were in their early days.
Michela has been presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) over a dozen times since 2013, in both Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola and The Appel Room. In fact, she was the first tap dancer to head up a show at JALC. Other NYC jazz venues where she has performed lately include the Blue Note, Ginny’s, Fat Cat, Mezzrow, Minton’s, Small’s (where she ran a weekly jazz tap jam for over 5 years and has over 225 performances housed in their video archive), Smoke, St. Nick’s Pub, the Village Vanguard, and the Zinc Bar.
During 2016, Michela has danced twice at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and in August, will join Wynton Marsalis in France to perform at the Marciac
Jazz Festival. In the summer of 2015, hers was the first tap dancer’s set to ever be included in NYC’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. She also danced recently in the JVC
Jazz Festival, JALC’s Generations in Jazz Festival for 2 years in a row, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a number of additional international jazz festivals, and the Harlem Arts Festival.
Her current projects include long-format tap presentations of the work of Charlie Parker and Betty Carter as well as formation of a trio consisting of Russell Hall on bass, Gabe Schnider on guitar, and, of course, Michela on taps. Currently, she has also had the pleasure of sharing the bandstand with Wynton Marsalis, Michael Mwenso and the Shakes, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Roberts, Barry Harris, Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson, Ravi Coltrane, the Evan Sherman Entourage, Sammy Miller and the Congregation and many, many more.
Michela has performed, taught, and served as an invited tap festival faculty member in Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Peru, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom – as well as numerous U.S. cities and universities, including the Jacob’s Pillow festival twice. In addition to a role in the documentary Tap or Die, she is a primary subject of a full-length, yet-to-be-named, tap documentary directed by Mark Wilkinson and partly produced by Sundance. She has also appeared in documentaries about tap on BBC and the Ovation cable network.
Articles, feature pieces, and photos of Michela have been carried in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Dance magazine, Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher, the New Yorker, and the Huffington Post. She has danced on the CBS show Secret Talents of the Stars and Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report as well as being
honored with a Flo-Bert award by the NY Committee to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day.
A lifelong resident of New York City, Michela received her early tap education from giants of the art including Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Le Roy Meyers, Marion Coles, Jimmy Slyde, and Dianne Walker. By the age of 14, she was touring across America with the Cab Calloway Orchestra and making her mark in famed Manhattan venues such as Birdland, the Waldorf-Astoria, the Rainbow Room, and the Lenox Lounge.
While still a teenager, Michela was selected to be the only tap dancer on the Editorial Advisory Board of Dance Spiritmagazine; appeared on the cover of Dance Teacher magazine together with Gregory Hines; won the Harlem Dance Festival’s Hoofers Challenge 2 years in a row; was inducted into the famed Copasetics as their first, and only, female member; and was commissioned to create, direct, and star in the full-length show Ambushed, by the Dixon Place Theatre in NYC.