On the Side: Roddy Doble

The American Ballet Theatre dancer taps into his potential.
Published in the December 2011/January 2012 issue.

Photo by Samantha Strahota

“A lot of ballet dancers only do ballet. That’s such a waste of talent.” —Roddy Doble

Tap dancing has always been a way for American Ballet Theatre corps member Roddy Doble to loosen up—physically and mentally. “I took tap classes from the time I was 9 at my studio in Connecticut,” he remembers. “In ballet class, I was naturally very strong, but I lacked flexibility, so I always looked tense. Tapping allowed me to free up my body, because the rules weren’t quite so strict. And I think because I wasn’t taking it as seriously as my ballet classes, it relaxed my approach to dance in general.” He loved watching clips of the famous tap duo the Nicholas Brothers, and tried to emulate their easy, debonair style.

Today it’s hard for Doble to fit tap classes into his busy ABT schedule, but he still pulls out videos of classic tap routines, like Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor’s “Moses Supposes” number from Singin’ in the Rain. Doble finds that channeling those greats’ old-school tap showmanship can breathe life into his character roles at ABT.

“Ballet dancers shouldn’t be scared of tap,” he says. “It’s really just another form of cross-training. Studying ballet from a ballet standpoint only gets you so far. And if you want to do well in a company setting, never let the people at the front of the room find something you can’t do!”