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Dance Archiving Project; Honi Coles Interview


NTW Dub of Original - 8/98 - Reel 2 - Audio Track # 2 DANCE ARCHIVING: PROJECT DANCE - INTERVIEW WITH HONI COLES

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Dance Archiving Project
Honi Coles Interview
Series Description

Series of original interviews. Series release date: 1981

Program Description

This is the only interview recorded as part of the New Television Workshop's "Dance Archiving Project," an attempt by the Workshop to document aspects of modern dance history. Six other interviews were conducted with important artists and designers of the twentieth century. (Painter/installation artist Judy Chicago and painter Lee Krasner were interviewed as part of the "Twentieth Century Artists" series in 1979. Melanie Kahane (interior designer), Paul Rand (graphic artist), Charles Blessing (city planner), and O'Neil Ford (architect) were interviewed as part of the "Design Archives" project in 1981.) The interview was conducted over two days at the Cotton Club in New York on May 11-12,1981. The interviewer is Brenda Bufalino, a famous contemporary jazz and tap dancer and teacher responsible for the modern renaissance in tap, who often performed with Coles. The interview is both informative and entertaining as Coles (and Buffalino) shows off his impressive knowledge of tap and tap history. Many tap steps and routines are demonstrated by Coles, often together with Buffalino. Coles tells a variety of amusing anecdotes that enlighten the biographical and dance-related discussions. Photos of Coles' early performances and some examples of sheet music he wrote to accompany his routines are also shown.

Charles "Honi" Coles was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1911. He learned to tap dance in his early years from street corner competitions and through disciplined self-study. After moving to New York in the 1930's he gained fame dancing in the big clubs of the time, including the Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club, with the biggest stars of the time, including Bill Robinson, John Bubbles, and his partner, Cholly Atkins. After serving in WWII, he returned to New York and opened an influential school of tap where he taught many of the great modern dancers. He received a National Medal of Arts in 1991 and died in 1992 at the age of 81.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “Dance Archiving Project; Honi Coles Interview,” 05/11/1981, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “Dance Archiving Project; Honi Coles Interview.” 05/11/1981. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: Dance Archiving Project; Honi Coles Interview. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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