"...the premier youth tap ensemble in the world: The North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble."
Michael N. Horowitz, President, Board of Directors, Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Rhythm…funk…innovation…excitement: that’s the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble (NCYTE). One of the best youth tap ensembles in the world, NCYTE features approximately 40 dancers, ages 8 to 18, who hail from throughout North Carolina. Don’t let the word “youth” fool you. These dancers tear up the floor with poise, passion and professionalism. NCYTE honors the traditions of this unique American form while infusing it with youthful energy, contemporary music, and innovative dances from some of the world’s most talented choreographers.
Founded by JUBA award winning artistic director Gene Medler in 1983, NCYTE entertains audiences with cutting-edge contemporary choreography along with traditional rhythm tap. NCYTE has toured throughout the U.S. and the world, with performances in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Germany and Mexico. The company has toured or collaborated with the Greensboro Symphony, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mallarme Chamber Players, and the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, among others.
NCYTE alumni—including tap virtuosos Michelle Dorrance and Jason Janas—have gone on to Broadway and beyond. The list of choreographers who have created the company’s repertory reads like a who’s who in the tap world, including the legendary Savion Glover.
Gene Medler, Founder
Gene Medler founded the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble in 1983. His previous teaching credits include Elon University, Duke University and Meredith College. He is on the faculty at The Ballet School of Chapel Hill and has taught master classes at the St. Louis Tap Festival, the American Dance Festival, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Tap City in New York City, the Saratov Music Conservatory (Russia), Tap Encontro (Rio de Janeiro), The Hot Shoe Show (Vienna), Feet Beet (Helsinki), the Internationales Steptanz-Festival (Berlin) and the Heidelberger Steptanz Festival (Heidelberg). Gene has also taught at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Selected performances include solos in Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker,” Ellington’s “David Danced,” “Rising Stars of Tap” (Colorado Dance Festival), and “The Great Tap Reunion” (Boston) as well as an appearance with the Squirrel Nut Zippers. He has been seen nationwide in the PBS special, “Juba! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance.”
Gene has received grants from the Durham Arts Council, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Orange County Arts Commission. He has been featured in such publications as Dance Teacher Now, Carolina Alumni Review, Southern Living, and Our State.
Gene has received many honors for his contributions to dance and his achievements as a dance artist. These include: “Tar Heel of the Week” from The News and Observe; an Indy Arts Award from The Independent; the North Carolina Dance Alliance Annual Award; and the JUBA Award from the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the Academy Award of the tap dance world.
Gene started dancing at the age of 28 and was quickly bitten by the tap dance bug. He was entranced by the combination of movement, rhythm, and sound. He started the ensemble because he wanted to offer his students more opportunities to perform and wanted to expand his own teaching and choreography. After nearly 40 years, he still loves mentoring young dancers and is thrilled with the journey NCYTE has taken him on.
Emily Shoemaker, Artistic Director
Emily is a proud Aluma of NCYTE (2001), performing and traveling with the company for seven years. Highlights of her tenure with NCYTE include performing at tap festivals in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Vienna, Austria; Helsinki, Finland; Chicago, St. Louis, and New York, and being featured in the PBS documentary “Juba! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance.” Emily has a passion for tap dance and has continued to study tap dance and music theory throughout her career. She has taught at many tap intensives and festivals, including the Little Rock and Syncopate Tap Festivals, and has served as a faculty member at the West Coast Dance Explosion and Streetz Dance Convention. Emily has been the Tap Director at CC & Co Dance Complex in Raleigh, NC, for 17 years. She has proudly watched her students go on to win Academy Awards and Tony awards, break boundaries in the world of dance, and, most importantly, become well-rounded and confident human beings.
Originally from Durham, NC, Caroline began as a student of Gene Medler in 1999 at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill. In 2008, she joined NCYTE as a dancer and graduated from the company in 2012 before attending UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating, Caroline returned to NCYTE as assistant director, working alongside Gene before becoming a co-director in 2017, and the Operations Director in 2022. Since 2016, Caroline has taught students of all ages throughout North Carolina. She currently teaches preschool dance, tap, and musical theatre at Barriskill Dance Theatre School in Durham. She has traveled with NCYTE to various festivals and events across the country, and has had the privilege of teaching at the North Carolina Rhythm Tap Festival. Most recently, she was given the opportunity to work with Kim Jones at UNC Charlotte to create original choreography for the university’s dance students. Caroline is extremely grateful for the opportunities NCYTE has provided, and is proud to work among such talented young dancers. Perhaps the greatest gift, however, has been her friendship with the person who taught her to love tap dance, Gene Medler.
Zoe is from Raleigh, NC and began tap dancing in 2005. She was fortunate to study with Gene Medler in Raleigh, later following him to the Ballet School of Chapel Hill. Zoe was a member of NCYTE from 2009 to her graduation in 2017. She attended George Washington University and graduated with a B.S. in Public Health. Zoe is passionate about education and primarily works with toddler-age students at a Montessori school in Raleigh. She returned to NCYTE as a volunteer in 2021, and is currently serving the company as Assistant Director. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with Gene, Nicholas, and Caroline, and especially grateful to work with the current company members.