Coffee brews and tap dance shoes

Whose House? Ella and Jordan’s House!

Photo by Callie Lugosi

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.”

1) Babies. Lots of babies.

ES: “Two of these I got at Junk for Joy. One I got at a road trip at a gas station. These three (Kewpie babies) are my most recent ones. I have a tattoo of Kewpie babies. I don’t know why, but it just became a collection.”

2) Cameras

ES: “Jordan got some of these from his mom. Some of them are mine. One of them was my great aunt’s, from Scotland.”

3) Fender Precision Bass

JC: “It's my go-to. I've had it for at least 10 years ... It was extremely cheap, because it came with that finish, which is not an original finish. I believe the body of it was made in 1976, and the neck is from 1972. It sounds incredible. I still haven't played anything that sounds like it.”

4) Photo album

ES: “I take Polaroids. It’s one of my favourite things to do.”

5) Portrait by Dany Reede

JC: “Dany Reede did this as a commission based on us moving into our first apartment together. We were both huge fans of his work. I sent him a few photos of things that were going into our new apartment: this clock, our little snake plant, our old table and chairs.”

6) Merin posters

JC: “Having art that somebody who's really talented makes that has the name of your band on it is like the coolest thing.”

Published in Volume 74, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 21, 2019)

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