DUELING SHOES
Performer Biographies
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New Book: The Akonting: Banjo Ancestor
Music Video about Ekonting
The Akonting-Poem Performance about History of the Banjo
New School Book
School Show
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Dancers-Past and Present

Heather Hartzog
Heather is currently an active member of Dueling Shoes.  Heather has been tap dancing for the past twenty years. She was trained in tap and jazz dancing at Miss Jeanne's Dance Academy in Bethlehem,PA. She enjoys many styles of dancing and joined The Apple Chill Cloggers in 1998 and Dueling Shoes in 2003.  Heather's graceful style, superb rhythm and complex step patterns thrill audiences.  Heather's exciting solo creations contribute to many of the dance routines.  When Heather is not working as a Plant Pathologist for the USDA, you might find her swing or disco dancing through the woods, looking for new mushroom species.

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Jason 'Jaso' Phillips
Jaso fell in love with Southern Appalachian dance and music in 1999. He clogged with the Hoorah cloggers in Blacksburg,VA from 1999-2002 with focus on performing and preserving the music and dance of the southern Appalachian region.  Jaso has performed with the Apple Chill Cloggers of Chapel Hill and currently performs many styles of traditional and modern percussive dance with Dueling Shoes as one of the founding members. He brings high energy and a highly spontaneous approach to innovative dance creations. He also loves to play and hear the old-time fiddle.  Jaso is not presently performing with Dueling Shoes.

Jaso Phillips

Dane Summers
 An exciting new dancer with Dueling Shoes.  More to follow. 

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Joan Levitt

Joan is currently an active member of Dueling Shoes.  Joan was a member of the Staten Island Dance Theater and later studied modern dance

with the Merce Cunningham School in New York.  Joan loves to dance freestyle wherever she finds old time music, especially at the 'Friday Night Jamboree' in Floyd, Virginia.  Performing solo as a special guest of old time fiddle player Joe Thompson, her dancing feet can be heard on the CD "Black Pony", J. Woodall/Back Home Music.  Joan joined the Apple Chill Cloggers in 2000 and Dueling Shoes in 2003.  Joan's mountain style and charm warms hearts and inevitably evokes smiles.  Joan enjoys performing with a diverse group of people interested in preserving traditional Appalachian dance styles.


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Steve Levitt

Steve is co-founder, choreographer and artistic director of Dueling Shoes.  He is a multi-instrumentalist and is currently offering a music, song and dance solo performance that features the Senegambian Akonting and teaches about the history and African roots of the American banjo. 

 

Steve came to percussive dance with a background in West African rhythm and drumming.  He enjoys exploring different ethnic rhythmic percussive

styles and dance traditions.  From 2000-2004 Steve danced with the Apple Chill Cloggers of Chapel Hill, NCHe has created and choreographed unique dance routines, often with symbolic themes and which can tell stories and evoke laughs.  He wrote, directed and performed in two percussive dance full theater productions:  "Clogging: Back to the

Roots - A Creation Myth", performed by The Apple Chill Cloggers for the Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville, VA Theater Arts Program, used the medium of dance to explore the roots of clogging and interconnections among diverse cultures; "T'was The

Night Before Christmas-A Dance Comedy" , performed by Dueling Shoes as a benefit

for the ArtsCenter, Carrboro, NC, was a comedic, old time music and percussive dance interpretation of this well known story. 

 

From 2005-2009 Steve created and performed an elementary school educational program

(see School Show) entitled "Journey to the Mountain-A Roots Tale."  This historical

fiction adventure story uses music, song and dance to explore the multi-ethnic roots

of North Carolina, clogging and Southern Appalachian percussive dance.  This program was

the basis of a new book, "Journey to the Mountain-A Roots Tale" 

(see New School Book) available for Preview and Purchase at

 www.LuLu.com/content/285625

 

In 2007 Steve wrote a performance poem about the history of the banjo entitled "From Africa to Bluegrass Sound, Let the Strings of Akonting Resound."  This was chosen as the

narrative storyline and performed by Steve in the dance concert "BlueGrass/BrownEarth" created by the internationally famous choreographer Chuck Davis and the

African American Dance Ensemble at the Stewart Theater, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. 

 

Since 2007 Steve has been studying the West African Akonting (Ekonting)  

played by the Jola people of the Casamance region of Senegal and The Gambia.  He has

been exploring a variety of ways to use the Akonting to create music and rhythms for

songs from different regions of West Africa and also for songs derived from the slave plantations in America.  Examples of performances of these songs can be found on this website at Akonting Poem Performance. 

 

Steve is currently available for performances with the Akonting at schools, churches, festivals, etc. See contact information.  A typical performance usually begins with a

music, song and dance performance of the poem about the history of the banjo

(instruments include West African drums, Akonting, fiddle, banjo, bones, hambone, and percussive dance).  This is followed by songs, with audience participation, from West

Africa and songs originating from slave plantations including spirituals and step-it-down tunes.  Some involve audience dancing.  History and information about the origins and meanings of these songs are incorporated into the performance.

 

 

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Musicians-Past and Present

We have a number of exciting new musicians who play old time music for Dueling Shoes dance performances, including the members of the 'Blue Star Travelers.'  More information will follow in the near future.  

Alan Julich
 
Alan is a multi-talented musician playing clawhammer banjo and bass. His music is simply wonderful to listen to and dance to.  He plays with The Stillhouse Bottom Band and the Blue Star Travelers among others, and his music can be heard on their CDs.  Alan has also produced several unique old time music CDs through JoeDog productions.  Alan can be reached at 919-563-9148. 

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Clare Steece-Julich
 
Clare's rhythm guitar is the glue that pulls the other instruments together creating a wonderfully rich and balanced sound.  Her vocals add greatly to the wide versatility of our band.  Clare has played with several old time bands including the Blue Star Travelers and loves to play for dancers.    

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Bobb Head
 
Bobb is an incredibly talented and skilled musician with years of peformance experience playing old time music.  Most of the time he plays bass and clawhammer banjo, but when needed he can also play guitar, fiddle and mandolin.  Bobb plays with The Stillhouse Bottom Band and his music can be heard on their CDs.   Bobb is not presently performing with Dueling Shoes.

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Robin Bruck-Tiralla
 
Robin's fiddle is amazing to listen and dance to and his unique style produces music that gets right down into your bones.  His wonderful rhythm and driving bow create a deep musical experience for all around him.  Robin has played with several different old time music groups including the Chinkapin Hunters and he loves to play Cajun fiddle.  Robinis not presently performing with Dueling Shoes.

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Larry "Spoons' Howell
 
Larry tells us that he started playing spoons in 1982 when a friend he met on Bent Mountain, Virginia laid down a superb rhythm with spoons!  Larry was hooked.  Having no spoons of his own, he went looking and found the perfect nickel silver pair at a local flea market!  With these 'two dollar' spoons he could begin learning how to 'finesse a tune,' as Larry puts it, using kitchen utensils.  Larry has been playing spoons every since.  Larry has a unique style, producing wonderful rhythmic patterns.  He has performed with many old time and bluegrass bands and enjoys playing in the relaxed setting of a jam or to recorded music.  Larry recently started making mobiles from hammered old spoons and forks that he finds.  They make a wonderful sound and look really great hanging on a porch or in a home.  Larry is also our stage manager and budding sound technician.  Larry's advice:  Born with a silver spoon in your mouth?  Add one and play them!   Larry is not presently performing with Dueling Shoes.    

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