"...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, Artistic Director, founded the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble in 1983. Gene teaches in the Department of Performing Arts at Elon University. His previous teaching credits include 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 30 years, he still loves mentoring young dancers and is thrilled with the journey NCYTE has taken him on.
Caroline Vance, Artistic Director, is an alumna of NCYTE.
Originally from Durham, NC, Caroline is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned degrees in Psychology and English, and a minor in Anthropology. Before college, she spent four years as a member of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, in addition to her thirteen years of study with Gene Medler.
While in school, Caroline danced with the Star Heels Dance Team, where she worked as a choreographer for the tap company and as the team's publicity chair. Caroline is currently on staff at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill and Barriskill Dance Theatre School in Durham.
With three younger sisters who have been in or are currently in the company, Caroline is lucky enough to never fully leave NCYTE.