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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 111317 — Pamela Hetherington

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A big burst of percussive energy entered the #sparkchamber today. We are so pleased to have Pamela Hetherington on tap! Professional dancer, choreographer, educator, artistic director, and Philadelphia native, she owns and operates Sound Space@soundspacephilly, a percussive and world dance space in the heart of Brewerytown.

Pamela began her dance training at the Philadelphia Civic Ballet and the Next Generation Dance Theater. She joined the Philadelphia tap company, Tap Team Two, at the age of sixteen, and was a principal dancer with the company for fifteen years. In 2013, she created Take It Away Dance, a tap dance and live music company that performs all over Philadelphia and New York.

Pamela considers herself a tap musician. In collaboration with other musicians, she creates percussive melodies and polyrhythms that can be danced. She recently began a journey into composing original music for tap dance — instrumental melodies that enhance the sounds made by tap shoes — and her first original jazz composition for tap dance was published in the Philadelphia Real Book, 1st Edition [Feb. 2017].

A consistent and visible ambassador for making tap dance accessible to people and audiences across Philadelphia, Pamela founded and directed 11 installments of the community tap and jazz music series, Philly Tap Teaser [2008-2014] — which has now scaled into the Philadelphia Community Tap Project — a free educational platform that teaches anyone how to tap dance to live music. This amazing organization sponsors ten kids every year for their traveling youth ensemble. It doesn’t take much to change a kid’s life. If you have a little to spare, click here to make a donation. 

If you are curious about tap and American culture, take a look at this PBS short — a phenomenal dip into the multicultural depths of tap dance. 

1.] Where do ideas come from?

My ideas come from listening to music and letting my mind drift. I have to take at least one hour a day to be inspired by music. I create my work in the form of jazz, so I listen to a lot of jazz. I also listen to live jazz as much as possible. I get fed creatively in a jazz session.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

What I do — dancing, creating, teaching, performing — brings me so much joy and insight and the highest highs. I am fine with feeling the lowest lows sometimes, because the highs are so worth it. I work hard for the highs.

3.] Early bird or night owl, tortoise or hare?

I used to be an early-bird hare. I still work best in the morning, but I have to do everything very slowly and thoughtfully and at the last minute. Sometimes I wonder if I’m self-sabotaging myself by putting the last-minute pressure on myself, but actually, I’m working the entire time. I have to do other things and think and parse through all of the possibilities before I create. That work takes weeks or months.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

When I stop changing things.