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Meet The Artists

Biography

William Orlowski

tap / National Tap Dance Company / William Orlowski Tap Dance Projects

(1952- )

William Orlowski is one of Canada's greatest tap dancers. Born in Brampton, Ontario, he started taking dance lessons as a child after seeing the films of Fred Astaire. He eventually moved to Toronto, where he appeared in community theatre productions and found work on television and in professional musical theatre. In 1977, he started a tap dance school, the Hoofer's Club. He also co-founded a professional group, the National Tap Dance Company. In 1990, he started the William Orlowski Tap Dance Projects.

As a choreographer, Orlowski redefined the scope of tap dance. He created technically and rhythmically difficult choreography in works like The Tin Soldier (1979) and Hound of the Baskervilles (1987). He also turned tap dance into an effective medium for storytelling and acting, using rhythm and movement to communicate plot and character developments. Since 1978, Orlowski has been successful in creating works that resonate with young audiences. Jennifer's Dream (1984) explores the world of a young girl coping with her grandfather's death.

Orlowski has choreographed numerous tap dance pieces for the concert stage and has collaborated with symphony orchestras and theatre companies, including the Shaw Festival. In 2001, he was the choreographer for the Shaw Festival's production of the Noel Coward musical Shadow Play. His choreography for Dames at Sea (1987), a musical theatre production directed by Brian Macdonald, won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best Choreography.

Orlowski has combined a sense of civic responsibility with his artistic talent by working with organizations such as the Smile Company, a theatre group that performs for people in nursing homes and hospitals.

Websites:

William Orlowski

Learn more:

Citron, Paula. “William Orlowski.” Encyclopedia of Theatre Dance in Canada/Encyclopédie de la Danse théâtrale au Canada. Ed. Susan Macpherson. Toronto: Dance Collection Danse Press/es, 2000: 451-453.