Meet the 2018 Mad Hot Tap Dance Competition Judges!

Posted on by Danceworks


Thank you to our wonderful emcee and judges for being a part of 2018’s Danceworks Mad Hot Tape Dance Competition at the BMO Harris Bradley Center!


Emcee Van McNeil is Danceworks’ returning Mad Hot Tap Competition Emcee. His voice has been a part of the Milwaukee radio airwaves for the past two decades. Van has worked for a handful of radio and television stations in the Midwest including 103.7 Kiss Fm, 99.1 The Mix, B93.3, WGN-AM, WISN-TV, Fox 6, NBC 5 (and more)! Van is also the Public Relations & Media Director for MKE Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Milwaukee Wave Professional Soccer Team, The Rock Sports Complex in Franklin and a number of other professional sports teams in the Midwest. Van can also be seen and heard on the Professional Bowling Association’s PBA Network/XtraFrame.TV and on Spectrum Sports Channel 32. He also just wrapped his 19th season as announcer for MKE Wave Soccer games at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Van volunteers his time to various charitable events throughout the Midwest and serves on the executive board of the This Time Tomorrow Foundation, an organization that uses music and the arts to help and inspire those dealing with cancer.


Ryan Cappleman, a first-time Mad Hot Tap Competition judge, is a performer, choreographer, music director, and teaching artist in the Milwaukee area and beyond. With Danceworks, Ryan has performed in Handel’s Bestiary, Danceworks On Tap, and has taught residencies, studio classes, and for Mad Hot – having had all-around champions in previous years! He is currently the Resident Education Music Director at Skylight Music Theater, where he has appeared on stage and choreographed. Ryan has taught for the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts Summer Dance Intensive, the Wisconsin Dance Council, The Virginia State Thespian Conference, ArtsBridge at the Marcus Center, First Stage, Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences, and Children’s Theater of Madison. He has earned a Footlights Award and many Overture Center Musical Theater Awards for his work. Next up, he will be choreographing Urinetown for Skylight Music Theater.


Julie Cartier, a returning Mad Hot Competition judge, is the Artistic Director of Chicago-based Cartier Collective. As a choreographer, teacher and dance fanatic, Julie has invested the last 25 years to all things dance. Julie’s diverse background includes performances of all kinds: as a concert dancer at some of Chicago’s finest concert dance companies, on television, in musical theatre productions and trade shows. Julie has served as artistic director for several successful tap companies—most notably Especially Tap Chicago (founding member), Soul-2-Soles Youth Tap Company—and currently pushes the envelope by blending her two loves: the pulse of rhythm dance and the beauty of movement at Cartier Collective. She continues to teach in the Chicago-land area and abroad.


Jimmy Payne Jr. is a returning Mad Hot Competition judge. He began tapping at the Jimmy Payne School of Dance located in Chicago. His teacher and father was legendary dance master Jimmy Payne, who taught tap and Afro-Caribbean dance to thousands of dance enthusiasts and professionals for more than seventy years. Jimmy Payne Jr. continues the tradition by performing and teaching in Chicago and abroad. Jimmy has performed at the Chicago Blues Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Dance Chicago, and with Chicago Human Rhythm Project. He also has performed with legendary saxophonist Von Freeman at the Chicago Cultural Center, with jazz great Orbert Davis at the Arts Club in Chicago, and with Bradley Williams 21st Century Jazz Review, whom he accompanied on a trip to India for a series of concerts. Critics have described Jimmy as “a tap classicist with a composer’s mind” (Chicago Sun Times), “the real deal” (Maui Times), and the Chicago Tribune referred to him as “smoking virtuosity.” Jimmy has also won an award with Black Theater Alliance for best performance in concert. He currently teaches at Columbia College Chicago, Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, and Stone Academy. Jimmy’s style of tap is rooted in intricate rhythms and movement—which is commonly referred to as “rhythm tap” and was taught by Jimmy Payne Sr. who trained with Broadway legend Buddy Bradley in the mid 1920’s.


Nikki Platt, of Nikki’s Fabulous Feet Dance Studio (Kenosha, WI), is a returning Mad Hot Tap Competition judge. Nikki studied musical theater/dance at Columbia College in Chicago. In 2001 she attended the Broadway Dance Center in New York City on scholarship, where she rubbed elbows with the following world-renowned master tappers: Lane Alexander, Mike Minery, Savion Glover, Michelle Dorrance and Gregory Hines. Nikki has shared the expertise she gained on the Broadway stage at the Kenosha Youth Performing Arts Center, Bradford Theater, Spotlight Youth Theater and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy.


Tina Wozniak, a returning Mad Hot Tap Competition judge, is the Director of the Dance Department at Kenosha Bradford High School (Kenosha, WI). Tina earned her BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. After enjoying a period of learning from great choreographers, Tina became the director of the Pius XI High School dance program. Tina enjoys teaching and choreographing for high schools and dance studios in Milwaukee, and loves being a member of the Danceworks On Tap Performance Company. Tina received her teaching certification from UW-Milwaukee in 2007, an MA in Education from Mount Mary College in 2009, and a MED (Masters in Educational Administration) from Cardinal Stritch University in 2016.