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Tap Dogs turns dance form on its toes -

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Tap Dogs turns dance form on its toes

Reporter: Rebecca Baillie

MAXINE McKEW: Now to something in a very different vein. Ten years ago, an unknown steelworker from
Newcastle took the art form made famous by tap dancers Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
and turned it on its toes. Since then Dein Perry and his show, Tap Dogs, have enjoyed huge
international success with their own fast and furious brand of dance. Now the show is back touring
Australia, and Dein Perry is passing on his prowess to the next generation. Rebecca Baillie
reports.

DEIN PERRY: I grew up in Newcastle, I left school when I was 16. I got a job in the steelworks. We
didn't finish work until the sun come up, we didn't start till about 11 o'clock at night, and there
was plenty of time to dream - well, not dream - I had to think about what else could I do with my
life. The only other thing I knew was dancing.

REBECCA BAILLIE: 10 years ago, fitter and tuner-turned-tap dancer Dein Perry burst out of the
steelworks and onto the stage with his dynamic show, Tap Dogs. Now, after years of constant touring
both here and abroad, the Tap Dogs are back where it all began, starting a national tour in
hometown Newcastle.

DEIN PERRY: Everyone can now have a little taste of what it has achieved and what we've achieved.

REBECCA BAILLIE: Billed as Australia's biggest theatrical export, 'Tap Dogs' has been performed in
32 countries, grossing an estimated $160 million. It owes its success to Dein Perry's formula of
putting testosterone into tap.

SHELDON PERRY: To me, we were just a bunch of knock-about guys. It's just an honesty I think we've
got. It's just a bunch of guys going out there doing tap-dancing routines trying to entertain with
our feet. There is nothing overly show business about it. There is definitely no make-up worn or
anything like that, and it would only sweat off in the first five minutes, anyway, but it's a
genuine, strong, working-class sort of ethic behind the guys' performances.

REBECCA BAILLIE: While Dein Perry and his younger brother Sheldon have both starred individually in
'Tap Dogs', this is the first time the brothers will perform together in the show.

DEIN PERRY: We move very similar. We certainly know each other's feet.

SHELDON PERRY: There is a definite musical thing that I think we have together. I noticed it when
we were younger and we danced together that we looked good together.

REBECCA BAILLIE: No surprise the Perry brothers are back dancing together. Their mother says they
were born to dance.

YVONNE PERRY: I started Dein at four. I just thought I would love him to learn dancing. I always
was interested in it myself. I thought if he looks the right little build and everything, I'll have
a little go with him.

REBECCA BAILLIE: How unusual is it, do you think, that two boys, sons of a Newcastle truck driver,
have ended up on the world stage tap dancing?

YVONNE PERRY: I honestly still sometimes can't believe it. It is - and people ask me all the time,
and it's amazing, yes.

REBECCA BAILLIE: Just like his mother nurtured his dancing talent, Dein Perry is keen to pass on
the skills and discipline of dancing to his own son, Reid. When Dein Perry started searching for
dance classes for his son, he found there were few opportunities for boys to learn. So he set up
Tap Puppies to teach some new dogs some old tricks.

'SPEEDO' GABRIELSSON: Dein Perry, he wanted to teach Reid tap dancing and I thought, "OK, I'll be
in."

REBECCA BAILLIE: And did you always want to do tap like your dad?

REID PERRY: Oh, yep.

REBECCA BAILLIE: Why did you want to do that?

REID PERRY: Because I wanted to be famous like him.

DEIN PERRY: It started with half a dozen kids and little boys and now we've got about 20 and
they're all going really good. It's hard work to teach them - incredibly hard - it's hard for me.
I'm always on hands and knees trying to get their legs going, but they love it.

REBECCA BAILLIE: The Tap Puppies are the lucky ones. Not only do they learn tap from the master,
but they're also getting a sneak preview of the show.

'SPEEDO' GABRIELSSON: Yes, it was really good.

REBECCA BAILLIE: Why did you like it?

'SPEEDO' GABRIELSSON: Because, um, they did lots of cool tricks.

DEIN PERRY: Come on, Kieran! There has to be a place for young guys to learn tap dancing, you know,
and if we can keep spreading it - well, I'm certainly going to have a lot of tap dancers for the
future to pick from, aren't I?

REBECCA BAILLIE: While Dein Perry is confident tap's future is healthy, he has had to lose nearly
20kg to get into shape for this 'Tap Dogs' tour. It will be his first time on stage in six years
and he just hopes his body can hold up.

DEIN PERRY: I feel a little awkward and a little stiff at the moment, but I'm sure, night after
night, it will come charging back - I hope!

REBECCA BAILLIE: Are you nervous?

DEIN PERRY: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.

MAXINE McKEW: Rebecca Baillie with that report.