Five Questions: Tap dancers David Sharp and Jeannine Goode-Allen

(Photo: CPR/Becky Clark)
<p>Husband-and-wife tap dance duo David Sharp and Jeannine Goode-Allen perform an original routine in the CPR Performance Studio.</p>
Photo: David Sharp and Jeannine Goode-Allen tap dance 3-2
Husband-and-wife tap dance duo David Sharp and Jeannine Goode-Allen perform an original routine in the CPR Performance Studio.

The duo submitted an original dance titled "Heaven and Earth" to Colorado Public Radio's Radio Dances project.

Sharp and Goode-Allen recently visited the CPR Performance Studio to dance and share more about their journeys.

CPR: How did the two of you meet?

Jeannine Goode-Allen: I was in my doctoral program in ministry at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, Calif. Right before the end, the peer on my dissertation committee quit. So the academic dean told me to contact David Sharp. I said, “Oh I’ve heard about him. He’s danced on Broadway and in Hollywood movies.” I shared with him my dissertation, which was an art performance piece based on the work of the 12th century mystic Hildegard of Bingen in which I tap danced. David gave me great feedback, and I graduated.

David Sharp: I was on staff there teaching, and when we met there was a spark. We kept working on the dissertation, and then life happened, and here we are married. Now it’s an incredible joy to be doing this artform and to take it where I’ve seen very few people take it.

CPR: You both have a variety of artistic talents, from writing to performing on stage. What drew you to tap dance?

David Sharp: My mother was a powerful force in tap dancing. She introduced it to me when I was a child, not as a form of entertainment, but as a form of therapy. She would put her shoes on and say to herself, almost like a prayer, “Feets don’t fail me now.” And she would tap dance her pain until she transformed it into joy. There’s something special about making sounds with your own body.

The simplest way to explain it is people stomp all the time, like when they get mad. You can literally take that and use it in many different ways to express emotions. That’s what dance does, but tap dance has been going away a bit, and we hope to keep the fire going.

Jeannine Goode-Allen: There are things that my feet can express, that I can experience through the sound and vibration of the tapping, that I can’t in any other way. There’s incredible power in that. I remember the first time I was with David when he was tap dancing, and all I wanted to do was go down on the floor and put my ear there to feel the power of it. And I did. And to dance with him takes it to a whole new level.

CPR: Tell us about your drive to combine spirituality and art.

David Sharp: In my African-American culture, art and spirituality are combined in many ways. If you go to churches, there’s dancing in the choir, there’s rhythm. My father was a minister and my mother was a dancer, so it was natural for me. We became aware that expression through the arts is very close to the divine.

Jeannine Goode-Allen: For me, it started with singing. As far back as I can remember, I would be singing, and it was usually out in nature. When I was singing, I felt connected to everything no matter what was going on in the world around me.

And that’s how I first connected to Hildegard of Bingen as a role model who not only sang, but also wrote plays and painted the visions she saw. She really used the arts as a way of expressing her relationship with this grander field.

CPR: That must be part of what makes Boulder a good home for you.

Jeannine Goode-Allen: We live smack up against the mountains, right on the open space. It’s a connection to the natural world and where I get my strength. It’s a great source of joy for both of us.

David Sharp: There’s a great love story in this. I was born in Denver and took off to Texas and Georgia when my father left Denver. I never thought I’d live in Colorado. Jeannine brought me back here from California. So I’m in Colorado because of a woman I love. And to be back here after all these years is amazing. I love living in Boulder.

CPR: What opportunities do you offer to people interested in tap dancing?

Jeannine Goode-Allen: We have an ongoing event that takes place the first Friday of every month in the Viriditas Studio in north Boulder called "Tap into Transformation." We create a theme, dance and have dinner together. The next one will be around St. Patrick’s Day. We’ll look at the vision that led Saint Patrick to Ireland and ask participants, “What are your visions?” Then we’ll invite them to learn a dance with us and also tap dance their visions.

David Sharp: We’ll also host a workshop called "Tap into Power for Life" from March 21 – 23. We will spend the weekend exploring tap as meditation, prayer, therapy and as a transformative tool to see where people are in their bodies and souls. These are for people who don’t dance but who have the courage enough to try something new. Hopefully we come out on the other end with joy, power and confidence in your own body as well as dealing with issues in a very visceral way.