Heather Cornell choreographed the Tony-nominated Broadway comedy The Play What I Wrote, which ran at the Lyceum Theatre in NYC. She was tap coach and choreographic consultant for a new production of Kurt Weill's The Three Penny Opera. The show, created by Atalaya Theater Company in Seville, Spain, premiered July 2006 in the Canary Islands and toured internationally for 2 years.
She is the artistic director and principal choreographer for Manhattan Tap, a company she co-founded in 1986 as a New York-based ensemble of tap dancers and live musicians. She is known worldwide for her collaborations on original music for tap. In October 2000 she debuted her show Notes to Soné with composer Bob Telson (Gospel at Colonnus) and Argentinian accordionist Chango Spasiuk. In June of 1998 she premiered her full-length work Excursion Fare at New York's Joyce Theatre, with a world music blend by Keith Terry and Crosspulse. She collaborated twice with the late jazz icon Ray Brown, and in 1997 performed in concert with his trio at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. She has collaborated with Manhattan Tap's musical director, composer/pianist Keith Saunders since 1989. She has performed worldwide with her company at venues such as Riverside Theatre in London, England, The Apollo Theater in New York, and The Aspen Dance Festival in Aspen, Colorado, as well as on tours of North and South America, across Europe and in China.
Her TV credits include choreographic commissions and performances on a national KQED special with Honi Coles, Gregory Hines' Tap Dance in America for Great Performances on PBS, and the Canadian Television jazz series Sounds Impressive. She made annual appearances from 1993 to 1996 on WNYC Radio's Around New York, and has been featured on CBC radio's Fresh Air.
Ms. Cornell developed her style as an apprentice to six of the first generation of American tap masters, and had the honor of performing in New York, Los Angeles and across Canada with Buster Brown, in Paris and New York with Eddie Brown, at the Apollo Theater in New York with the Copasetics and Silver Belles, at New York's Lincoln Center with Cookie Cook, at the Village Gate Jazz Club with Steve Condos and at New York's Town Hall with Chuck Green. In her early performing years she partnered with tap dancing clown Noel Parenti and in 1984 they headlined at New York's first International Clown Festival.
Ms. Cornell is one of the leading tap teachers on the scene today. The blend of original material from her mentors, the development of her own style of concert tap, and her extensive work in collaboration with top musicians in jazz and world music results in a teaching style that is rich with tradition, experience, musicality, and inspiration. She established the Manhattan Tap Apprentice Program that is responsible for training today's generation of tap artists including Max Pollak, Michael Minery, Roxanne Butterfly, Bob Carrol and Jeannie Hill, as well as cast members of Manhattan Tap, Stomp, Bring In da Noise, Bring In da Funk, Tap Dogs, Cool Heat Urban Beat, and Riverdance. She travels extensively, mentoring new tap communities, and teaching Master Classes and Residencies throughout the world.
She has been awarded grants in the U.S. from the National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer. In 1989 she was the first tap dancer to receive a "B" grant from the Canada Council, and in 1995 she was the sole dancer chosen for a joint NEA/Canada Council 2-month residency.
Her latest collaborators are her daughter Soné (August 2000) and her son Eoghan (December 2002).