James Demeny is a tap dancer, jazz musician, theatre artist, and teacher based in Chicagoland. He's been a musician for the past 14 years, and he has a diverse history in the performing arts. James received his B.A. in Musical Theatre and minor in Dance Education from Elmhurst University in May 2020, where he studied theatre, dance, and trumpet. He has played leading roles in theatrical productions, and he has a deep love for the theatre. James has studied with voice teachers like Scott Uddenburg, Susan Moninger, Sarah Catt, and Susan Dennis at Elmhurst, with an affinity for musical theatre styles. He has performed with vocal jazz groups and classical choirs, played trumpet in wind ensembles and symphony orchestras, and performed as a soloist and choreographer with the Elmhurst University Dance Company. His diversity in the arts has taken him to marching band competitions, vocal jazz festivals, a performance on live TV, and inspired a lifelong passion for the arts.
James’ variety of artistic experiences makes him a well-rounded teacher, and he has previously taught lessons and classes in the fields of tap dance, trumpet, theatre, and acting. As an educator, he focuses on helping students develop their own voice within tap dance. Tap dance was designed to be a language, not for the entertainment purposes audiences see on Broadway. Rather than teaching tap dance through imitation, as many dance teachers do, James teaches students to use their tap shoes as the musical instruments they are. James’ students learn to create their own sound and style through improvisation, jazz, and music, instead of learning pre-choreographed steps and combinations.
As a tap dancer, James is largely self-taught, and he has studied with artists like Nico Rubio, Jabowen Dixon, and Hillary Marie. He can also be seen and heard performing with his self-titled jazz combo, and on recording as well. James is working to bring tap dance back into the world of jazz, and into the world of music. The world of tap dance is so much deeper than the familiar spectacle of musical theatre, and James treasures the opportunity to spark enjoyment and love for music and tap dance.
“Chameleon by Herbie Hancock is one of my favorite pieces. His unique style of jazz is incredibly fun to play, it’s such a jam and it always gives me crazy new rhythmic ideas!"