Tony Coppola - Featured May 2008

Dancer/All-American Gymnast/Choreographer/
Educator/Professional Percussionist

Faculty Member 1985-1992

1. Where were you born?  I was born at Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming (I am part Shoshoni), however, some birth certificates say that I was born in New York because my name is the same as my father's.
Tony as a baby
2. Where did you grow up?  I grew up in Northern California
3. When & why did you start dancing?  I had already trained for most of my childhood as a musician and athlete; like every other drummer I was attracted to rhythms.  While playing drums in a show in Las Vegas, I passed a dance studio and heard tap dancing, and became hooked.  I trained in tap, ballet, jazz and modern, getting the majority of my training in Los Angeles.
4. When & why did you decide you wanted to be a professional dancer?  After I got bitten by the dance bug, I decided to test the waters by auditioning and fortunately got the job my first few times out.  Even on some dance jobs that I was too small for, my special skills such as tumbling and tap got me featured.  At that point I was on my way.
One of Tony's first headshots as a Tap Soloist
5. What projects did you work on as a professional dancer?  One of my first jobs was as a dancer for Donny and Marie Osmond; we did a world tour and appeared in Las Vegas.  Over the years I did various TV spots, movie spots, Las Vegas shows, and, of course, taught for Tremaine Conventions.
6. What celebrity entertainers and/or choreographers have you worked with?  As previously mentioned, I worked with the Osmonds, was an opening act for Don Rickles, worked with Gladys Knight, Nicolette Sheridan, Marilou Henner, John Tesh and others.  And when I began choreographing television specials and world tours for gymnastics, I worked with all the big name gymnasts, such as Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner, Keri Strug, and many others.
Tony with Olympic Gold Medalists Bart Conner and Jim Hartung backstage at a Gymnastics performance
7. How did you meet Joe Tremaine?  Joe's classes were in the same building where I rehearsed for my solo tap act so we always bumped into each other in the hall.  I always admired his teaching; when he began his conventions he was aware of my tap...When we began we were a small, compact faculty which later expanded and the rest is history.
8. What was your favorite part of being with Tremaine Dance Conventions?  I would say watching talented young dancers with so much potential was always exciting, but I think my favorite times were traveling on airplanes etc. together because we always operated on humor and I remember the laughter the most.
Recreating one of his signature pieces during a recent performance
9. What have you been doing since you stopped traveling with Tremaine?  Over the years, I have continued to work as a tap soloist.  In the mid- to late-90's, I choreographed and toured with the World Gold Gymnastics tour, which featured Olympic gold medalists and ten dancers from Los Angeles.  Following that, I was on faculty at the Colorado Ballet in Denver for five years; then I ran a dance department at a small college in Western Colorado for five years, where I also choreographed many musicals.  For the last two years, I have been on faculty at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas (UNLV).  I also choreograph and direct the Coppola Tap Ensemble of which I am very proud.  We are just now beginning to get touring dates.
PHOTOS - left to right:
Tony with two of his Mesa State tap students in Colorado.  Backstage at a recent performance with his UNLV tap students
10. Where do you currently live?  I currently live in Las Vegas, Nevada

Now, to borrow from "Inside The Actor's Studio", the Questionnaire:
11. What is your favorite word?  Passion
12. What is your least favorite word?  Mediocrity
13. What turns you on?  All forms of beauty and art, and those who are willing to go to the wall to create it
14. What turns you off?  Any concept of art which is snobbish or elitist
15. What sound or noise do you love?  The sound of rhythms in all its various forms

16. What sound or noise do you hate?  Squealing Brakes

17. What is your favorite curse word?  Clogging
PHOTOS - left to right:
Tony and his daughter Shannon dancing at her wedding.  Tony vacationing with his girlfriend Laurin in MOAB
18. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Pugilist
19. What profession would you not like to do?  Anything in the medical field
20. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  "Five, Six, Seven, Eight ...Let's do it all again."