Spotlight Feature: Maud Arnold
Listen to our podcast episode with Maud! Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!
On this month’s Spotlight Feature of Making the Impact, Courtney and Lesley connected with Tap legend and co-founder of the Syncopated Ladies, Maud Arnold.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Maud began dancing super young and, at age seven, started training at a studio with a heavy tap focus.
When it was time for college, Maud knew that she wanted to get out of D.C. due to the lack of dance opportunities. During her senior year, she trained at the renowned Debbie Allen Dance Academy and applied Early Decision to Columbia University where she was accepted and majored in film.
Maud’s desire to major in film came from her mentor Debbie Allen, who is the ultimate Renaissance Woman: dancer, choreographer, director, producer, educator, actress...the list goes on! Ms. Allen encouraged her students to master everything, and given Maud’s desire to bring tap dance to both the small and big screens, she knew that knowledge in the film industry would serve her well.
She took tap dance classes at Columbia as well, focusing on technique, history, and improvisation. Her time at Columbia has been hugely beneficial throughout her career, especially with her company, The Syncopated Ladies, that she established with her sister, Chloe.
Founded in 2003, The Syncopated Ladies is an all-female tap company that was born out of a tap jam at Debbie Allen’s studio. Chloe was hosting the jam, a group of incredible female tappers showed up, and the idea for the company was born. Since then, they’ve gained fame through performances and music videos, including a nod of approval from superstar Beyoncé. Be sure to listen to the full episode for the whole story! The company is best known for their fierce, all female tapping and Maud describes the vibe as being a direct reflection of how she and Chloe grew up in dance--it’s all about sisterhood and empowerment.
In addition to the Syncopated Ladies, Chloe and Maud also have their for-profit Productions company which is their LLC, through which they sell their merchandise, as well as their Foundation, which is the umbrella for multiple initiatives including the DC Tap Fest, an after school program, and a youth company. With a desire to help dancers during the pandemic, they hosted an international tap-a-thon last spring and were able to award $35K in scholarships and $8K in cash grants to families and dancers in need. They’re all about giving back and helping young dancers continue to achieve their goals.
Maud has also traveled the world teaching with the goal of bringing tap dance to as many young students as possible. While language barriers that are often rooted in financial limitations and lack of access present challenges, she continues to deliver these classes, having taught in places as distant as Brazil and Russia. Dancers across the country and around the world are lucky to experience her eclectic teaching, whether in an intimate classroom or convention ballroom, which Maud has frequented throughout her career.
Check out the full episode for more on Maud’s incredible career, vision, and mission!