Fred Strickler is a virtuoso tap dance artist acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for his extraordinary originality and musicality. A prolific choreographer, he is equally at home in classical, jazz and modern styles. In his tap dances, he revels in the complex interactions of rhythm, sound and movement as he expands the limits of this uniquely American art form. He is the artistic director of Fred Strickler & Friends — New Ideas on Tap, which focuses on innovations in tap dance choreography and often includes nationally known guest dancers and musicians. Currently, he is presenting his original show, Where I Live at his home studio/theatre with his long-time collaborators, Denise Donovan, tap dancer, and Ray McNamara, percussionist.
Mr. Strickler has danced and choreographed since 1961 for film, television, musical theatre and, especially, for the concert stage. He was a co-founder and artistic director of the Jazz Tap Ensemble, touring the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia . He was a co-founder and artistic director of Eyes Wide Open Dance Theatre and, was a featured dancer/choreographer with the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company, touring the United States and Europe . He has also made numerous appearances as a guest artist with Manhattan Tap and the Peggy Spina Tap Co. in New York and the am/FM Dance Company in Chicago. For twelve years he was a dancer/choreographer with the Southern California group, Rhapsody in Taps.
Since 1983, he has performed often as a soloist in his choreographic versions of Morton Gould’s “Tap Dance Concerto” and “Hoofer’s Suite” with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. In 2001, he danced the concerto with the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., for an audience of 70,000.
As a choreographer, Strickler’s work has been presented at Dance Theatre Workshop, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Kennedy Center, the Colorado Dance Festival, and a special series with Charles “Honi” Coles at the Smithsonian Institution’s Baird Auditorium in Washington, D.C. On television and in film, his work has been featured in the PBS special, “Gregory Hines’ Tap Dance in America,” England ‘s “Jazz Tap Ensemble: USA,” KQED San Francisco’s “Honi Coles & the Jazz Tap Ensemble,” the award-winning documentary “Tapdancin,” and in the award-winning film by Bridget Murnane, “Four Dancers.” In 1989, he and dance writer/historian Sally Sommer co-produced “Tap Blast!,” a special event featuring Manhattan Tap, Anita Feldman, Fred Strickler & Friends, and veteran tap master Charles “Cookie” Cook at New York’s Lincoln Center. In 1994, he performed his solo choreography in “Jazz on Tap: American Legends” in Los Angeles.
Mr. Strickler has created nearly 200 dance works, including commissions in tap for soloist Heather Cornell and her company, Manhattan Tap, New York ‘s Peggy Spina Dance Co., Chicago ‘s am/FM Dance Co., Linda Sohl Ellison’s Rhapsody in Taps, Taps Unlimited, The Northwest Tap Consort, and the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. He has also created a ballet work for the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, and modern dance pieces for the Bella Lewitzky Dance Company.
In 1991, he received an Artists Fellowship from the California Arts Council, and he has received seven Choreographers Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1995, he was named the Distinguished Humanities Research Lecturer by the Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside.
Strickler is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, where he has taught dance from 1967-2007. In partnership with the distinguished dance scholar Christena L. Schlundt, he was a founder of the Department of Dance and served as Chair of the program five times. He has taught modern dance technique and composition, tap dance technique, improvisation, and production courses as well as courses for non-majors, including Dance 5: Introduction to Dance and Dance 7: Watching the Dance Go By. In addition, he has served numerous times as artistic director of the annual student/faculty productions of “UCR is Dancing.”
Professor Strickler has taught master classes and workshops throughout the United States, as well as in France and Holland. He has been on the dance faculties at UCLA, California Institute of the Arts, and California State University, Long Beach. In addition he has been an Artist-in-Residence at Ohio University, Kenyon College, San Jose State University, and Riverside Community College. He has taught tap techniques, repertory and composition at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the International Tap Festival in Colorado, the Tappin’ With The Masters Festival in Portland, and at the Southern California Tap Festival, and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project Summer Tap Festival.
Strickler has also served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Program, the California Arts Council, the Nevada Arts Council, and the Western States Arts Foundation as well as numerous Southern California Arts Councils.