Steven Harper is a dancer, tap dancer, choreographer and producer.
An American citizen, he was born in 1964 in Munich, Germany to an American father and a German mother. Following the steps of his itinerant parents, Steven grew up in Algeria, then Los Angeles, California, and finally in Geneva, Switzerland, where he took his first dancing lessons at age 15. He moved to New York in 1984 to perfect his skills and launch his career. His first professional engagements began in 1986 and include dancing with Clarence Teeters (modern-jazz), Fred Benjamin (Jazz), a summer stock production of the musical My One and Only and a tour of Holland with the company Balletap America (Mercedes Ellington). As of 1986, Steven was on the staff at Steps on Broadway in NYC, teaching tap. Invited to tutor a workshop in Rio de Janeiro in 1987, he discovered with great delight a flowering local tap dance scene, fell in love with the country and finally moved there in 1991.
Over the years Steven established himself as a major driving forces behind the local tap scene, dancing, teaching, choreographing for dance companies, musicals, shows, television and film, producing and performing in his own productions as well as writing for dance blogs and trade magazines. In 2002, he and his wife Adriana Salomão founded the Tap in Rio festival, now in it’s 18th year (2019). The event has become the meeting point for the foremost tap dancers in the country and has significantly contributed to the development of the art form in Brazil.
Starting in 1992, his show Black and White, a duo with tap dancer Mauricio Silva, was performed in numerous cities in Brazil. In 1996, he created Jungle Tap!, together with acoustic bass player Bruce Henri, which, among other venues, was featured in 2000 at Switzerland’s famous Montreux Jazz Festival. He directed the Steven Harper Company from 1999-2013, also with numerous theater runs across the country. Solo, he performed in galas, dance festivals, corporate events and other settings, such as the All Stars evening of the New York City Tap Festival in 2002. He also highlights the Duke Ellington Sacred Concert, performed with the Minas Gerais Big Band at Belo Horizonte’s the Palacio das Artes, in 2013 and 2014. His current project is a show called Saguibatu, bringing together five artists – three Americans and two Brazilians – in the exploration of the territory where music and dance closely intertwine (see details here).
Much in demand internationally, Steven took part in music festivals, such as Jazz aux Sources (France, 2016), 5 editions of Rock in Rio – in Rio de Janeiro (2011, 2013), Lisbon (2012, 2014) and Las Vegas (2015) -, the International Body Music Festival (IBMF, São Paulo, 2010), Back 2 Black, in Rio de Janeiro (2009), or the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Switzerland (2000). He is a regular guest in the world’s leading tap dance festivals. Altogether he danced or taught in 11 countries of North America, South America, Europe and the Middle-East.
His leadership in the Brazilian dance world prompted the Brazilian branch of the dance wear company Capezio to create a line of products labeled after him. As of 1998 he represented the International Tap Dance Association in Brazil and served on its Board of Directors between 2010-2014. He’s also actively engaged in the activities of the Dance Union of Rio de Janeiro. His first book, about the dance profession and giving advice to young dancers in Brazil, called “Profissão Bailarino, Raio-X de uma Paixão” was published in 2015 (ISBN 978-85-69403-00-5).
Steven is fluent in French, English and Portuguese, with a working knowledge of German and Spanish.