On Saturday 18 June, Birmingham City Centre’s Brindley Place will become the dancefloor, as Birmingham 2022 Festival presents Tappin’ In, Brum’s mass tap extravaganza. The people of the West Midlands will be taking to the streets for the city’s largest tap-dancing lesson and Shim Sham.

Last week, the Festival Team spoke with Artistic Director, Stephanie Ridings on all things Tappin’ In. Read Stephanie’s interview with us below:

Q: Introduce yourself, your project, and role.

A: I’m Stephanie Ridings, I’m the Artistic Director of Tappin’ In … a participant project where we’ve co-created with about 130 people. They’ve spent 12 weeks learning to tap dance and sharing stories about themselves and the West Midlands so that we can all come together on June 18 and really celebrate the West Midlands and its people.

Q: How would you describe your project to those new to your work?

It’s dance and storytelling, so it’s a bit of dance theatre if you like. It’s new territory for me as well as other people. Hopefully it’s joyous and celebratory and its participants who are not performers or dancers necessarily having had any dance experience giving something a go and enjoying themselves while they do it.

Hopefully the audience can come away with all of that… that idea of the audience sort of going, you can give stuff a go, try things out and not worry about it!

Q: What have you enjoyed about the project so far?

A: I think it’s the participants, and the way that they respond and commit. Their dedication to get the steps right. For a big project like this, there’s a lot of background organising budget and difficult conversations but what’s great is that if a day has been a bit tricky with organisational stuff I might go to a group in the evening or the next day and be like this is why we’re doing it, and every time it never fails to rally me.

When the participants started having their sessions and were like “what? we get to keep the tap shoes?” I wanted the project to always be about the participant experience, their enjoyment has always been really important to me. To see them be committed and want to do a good job has been really lovely.

Q: What other B2022 Festival events are you looking forward to seeing?

A: The other one I would say is ME dance because I’ve written for them, so I’m slightly biased in that! I’m looking forward to seeing that all come together and also our big moment will have happened so I can relax and support their big moment.

I really want to go do the keys for Key to the City. I love a hidden place with a key, it sounds very exciting. Finding those places that people normally aren’t allowed … that’s really exciting!

Q: What excites you most about the Birmingham 2022 Festival?

A: I guess it’s an artistic perspective, when it launched and Raidene (executive producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival) said it was about leaving legacy in that region. I feel like there’s a real commitment to using people from the region and leaving those skills and that feels really exciting for what comes next.

It’s also great to put the West Midlands on the stage and say ‘hey, look at all these places’ and showcase them and the people a little bit.

Q: Do you have any plans for after the Festival?

A: After our June date, we’ve got our film premiere on September 4th, and then after that I know we’re both looking at a holiday!

Tappin’ In will be taking place Saturday 18 June 3PM at Brindley Place, Birmingham and is FREE and unticketed to attend. Join us in the sun, pop on your dancing shoes and give it a go!

This project is created by Stephanie Ridings in association with Lou Lomas. Associate producers DanceXchange and generously supported by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Community Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.