Readers might recognize cohabitating partners Jordan Cayer and Ella Steele from the Winnipeg stage. Steele is a tap dancer and choreographer, while Cayer currently plays bass with local jangle-poppers Merin and was previously part of Adam Hanney & Co. for many years. But the two have professional interests off the stage as well.
Steele teaches and choreographs at the Doreen Bissett School of Dance, her mom’s school, where she began her dance education at three years old.
“I started working with all dance forms,” Steele says. “Ballet, jazz, hip hop ... I’ve done it all. But tap dancing was always my specialty, and since I was 15, I really got into the world of tap dance. Now I do it professionally.”
While the words “tap dance” might evoke images of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, Steele says her tap influences and idols “weren’t so much in the MGM kind of world.”
“(I’m into) the tap dance era of the 1970s,” she says. “Dancers like Jimmy Slyde, Gregory Hines. My mentor showed me footage of Baby Laurence on The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show. That was the first piece of tap dance historical footage I ever saw.”
In addition to music, Cayer works as a barista and café manager at Forth.
“It’s actually my first job as a barista,” Cayer says. “I’d previously been professionally focused on bartending. I always really enjoyed the job of creating drinks for people. Once I started making coffee for people in this very specific specialty coffee world, I realized very quickly that this was my favourite version of that.
“People are a lot more willing to give you a smile when you’re giving them a coffee than when it’s 1:30 in the morning, and you’re just trying to get them to leave your bar.”
Published in Volume 74, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 21, 2019)