Dewitt Fleming Jr.- Tap Dancer, Actor, and Musician Speaks On His Quest To Be Heard

Dew It Right Tap Mics created by tap dancer Dewitt Fleming, Jr.

Acclaimed performing artist Dewitt Fleming Jr. has had an awe-inspiring career. The New York Times proclaims “he is a non-stop source of rhythmic variety and surprise…sparks seem to fly from those shoes!" Also an actor, choreographer, and percussionist, he has now created microphones specifically designed for tap dancers. 

Ayodele Casel: Sound during a performance is an element tap dancers are always trying to control and perfect. What was the impetus for you to create this much-needed product in a tap dancer’s life?

Dewitt Fleming Jr.: You’ve done shows. You know how it is. You go to a place to perform and the situation for sound is always bad.  But I would always get excited when I’d do musicals because most of the time they would have a rig made where they had soldered together two lavalier microphones. It was usually in houses that have a little bit more money. When I did Cirque Du Soleil they invested in some and had it made for me which was great. And I got tired of traveling to other places and them asking me 'Oh, you need a
Dewitt Fleming Jr.
microphone?'. Yes!, I need to be heard. This is my language. So I called my sound buddy and I asked him where he got the mics we had in the show. And he said, 'Those are custom made. I know a guy at this Pro Audio company and if you give him a call they can make a pair for you.' So I called them and I asked how much they cost and he said: 'One mic is going to be $700-$800, the other one is the same, and the labor…' I said, whoa, whoa, whoa. For one mic? He said, 'yeah.' I then asked 'Do you have any USED mics? Or discounts?'. So I bought a pair for $700. And I started using them in different places but then one show, I was rushing and I didn’t put my mics on properly and I stepped on them and they were ruined. I knew there was no way I could pay another $700 for used mics but at the same time I noticed when I was using them they were getting frayed and it was simply because they weren’t meant to be used in that way. In my research, I learned that these are vocal mics. They are meant to be put on your face. They’re not going to be made sturdy. They need to be made thin because you can’t have big ol’ wires sitting on your face. They want them to be as small and as hidden as possible. They’re going to be delicate and the frequencies are different as well. I thought what can we do? So now years of going back and forth with sound guys, we'd been looking for different materials, trying to figure out how to reinforce the wires inside and  how to make the casings more durable. Trying to find casings strong enough to prevent accidents from happening should I step on the mic accidentally. Finally, we came up with something that works. And this was just for me, at first. But I connected with someone who was excited about also trying to solve the problem.

AC: It seems like you solved the issue of needing to have other people provide your microphone and in addition the cost, making it more affordable, which is pretty amazing. 

DW: It’s funny how stuff works out. I was tired of people being like “Oh, you need a mic? Well, when they’re not singing you can take the mic and put it on the floor.” And then you’re stuck in one place asking ‘can you turn it up?’ Well, I can’t because the mic is on the floor and there’s a band behind me so I can’t just turn that up because then I pick up everybody. And sometimes you work in these places and if you ask the sound engineers for anything it’s like the end of the world.

AC: It’s so true.

DW: Then I realized it’s not their fault. A lot of times they don’t get the information they need so they’re scrambling at the last minute to try to do all this stuff and everybody is asking them for something. So by having your own mics, you solve a problem for everybody. They don’t have to worry about it. They can just plug you in and EQ your levels and it’s done.

AC: It’s a reality that as professionals or pre-professionals that we have to be prepared. Sometimes you can’t just show up with your shoes and if you do, be prepared to go through all the steps you said before and risk frustration. So to eliminate that it’s better to have your complete package much like musicians who carry their instruments and sometimes their amp. My stepfather is a musician and when he goes to his gigs he always has his violin and
his amp. Similarly, as tap dancers, we’d save ourselves a lot of time and frustration by coming with the package. Oftentimes that’s why we have portable wood. If you don’t know the venue, I would rather be in control of what I’m going to sound like then leave that up to the people there who, as you said, have little information as to what is going to work for me.  I think part of our package should 100% include a portable floor AND microphones. Do you want to speak to the difference of putting a handheld mic on the floor and the benefit of having rigs? I prefer rigs.

DW: You know this more than anything, you’ve been dancing longer than I have. As a dancer, and as an artist, the more you do it and the more you develop your craft the more you know what your sound is, you know what you’re going for, and you know what you want to hear. When you’re younger you just go out there and you want to be the best and look the greatest and do the biggest things and hit and do all this crazy stuff to get recognized and then as you get older and more along in your art you know what sound you want to go for any particular event. This is how I want to sound.

AC: And it’s also about preservation. I don’t want to have to pound the floor in order to be heard. Like you said, it changes the intent of your sound. 

DW: Exactly. And so that was a huge part of it.  I don’t want to wear myself out the first couple of minutes because I’m just trying to hear myself. I’d come off stage upset about the whole performance because I didn’t do anything that I wanted to do. I wasn’t able to settle in the music and find anything because I’m just dancing loud, trying to be heard. It was frustrating. I was feeling like I can’t keep doing these performances and feeling like crap. That was another thing that pushed me to do it. And the mics helped with that because you
can go for the things you want to go for. You can do slides and scrapes and actually hear them and use them as part your rhythmic phrasing. The thing I like about the rigs as opposed to mics on the floor is the consistency of sound. It’s very hard to mic a floor efficiently, without spending a lot of money, in a way that you feel like you can move throughout the space and be consistently heard and your levels are the same. If it’s not dead spots, then it’s hot spots. You feel like ‘I can’t go to this back corner, or the middle of the floor, or this over here cause I’m not heard. But if I go downstage then that one is not as hot.’ It’s things like that, the freedom of knowing no matter where I move it’s going to sound the same. I’m going to be able to hear myself. I can go wherever I want. If I decide to go down the steps on the front of the stage that actually happen to be wood I can do that. It’s the freedom to go out there and do what you do best and not have to worry about all the elements.

AC: I love the way you put that just now. Freedom! I feel like this is designed for every tap dancer, regardless of where you are in your performance life.

DW: A dance teacher got this for her studio. She was saying that she has to have marley because she can’t afford to have wood floors at this time. She said the mics help a lot because she plugs them into the PA and now these little kids and adults you can actually hear them through the music on the marley. Marley is tough. The thing about it is the harder you dance the more it takes out of you. It sucks your energy.

AC: Talk about it. I won’t dance on it anymore. Marley is really detrimental to the legs of tap dancers. It absorbs all of the energy which to me translates to pain in my hips and thighs. The only way I was able to do it on convention was by putting the mic on the floor and not moving anywhere. I think tap convention teachers should definitely invest in a pair of mics if their people are not providing them with any. You’re teaching large rooms of tap dancers and to demonstrate and be heard over 200 kids in a room can be very challenging. 

DW: Exactly.

AC: Three important things come up for me when I think about “Dew It Right Tap Mics.” One. Freedom. The freedom to move anywhere. Two, the cost. And the third, and maybe the most important one, is being heard. 

DW: Absolutely. And to be completely honest with you it’s such a confidence builder. If you can’t hear yourself you’re always second-guessing what you’re doing and how it’s being perceived and if
you’re actually hearing what you want the audience to hear. It feels so good when you go out there and you can hear yourself loud and clear and you know what you’re doing is being heard. You don’t have to second guess anything. If I do the smallest shuffle or tiniest little thing and it was heard it just feels good. It’s so freeing and satisfying to know that I did what I wanted to do, what came to me and it came across. I know it came across because I heard it. 

AC: I agree with you. 

DW: Everybody can take advantage of this. I’ve spoken to dance moms and their kids who do performances at local community centers and had concerns about not being heard because the music is too loud. This is for them as well. It’s for everybody. If it’s going to build somebody’s confidence, I don’t care if you started a week ago. If it helps you stay in the dance, and progress, and feel good about what you’re doing then anybody can use them.

AC: I’m thrilled that you’ve taken the initiative to create something like this. I know for a fact that it’s valuable on so many levels and for so many people. I’m obsessed with tap dancing and the sound so to have something that amplifies that and that it was created by someone equally invested in the art form makes it all the better. I personally thank you and I can’t wait for other people to take advantage of this as well.

DW: My door is always open. If anybody has any questions they can always message me through the site,, or through social media. I’m happy to help and for people to have the feeling I had, ‘Yes, FINALLY!”

For more information on Dewitt and his mics please visit and www. 
Follow Dewitt on social media- @dewitrightmics and @dewittflemingjrdotcom. 

The 2017 recipient of the  “Hoofer Award”, Ayodele Casel  premiered her one-woman show "While I Have The Floor" at the Spoleto Arts Festival to rave reviews. A frequent New York City Center collaborator, she served as choreographer for Carole King and Maurice Sendak's musical "Really Rosie" for its Encores! Off Center under the direction of Leigh Silverman, a soloist for Jeanine Tesori’s “Jamboree”, a soloist at Fall For Dance, and a soloist for “¡Adelante Cuba!” as part of Latin Jazz great Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. Ayodele will be leading New York City Center’s “On The Move” in Spring 2019 and she is currently Artist In Residence at Harvard University. 

Hailed by the legendary Gregory Hines as “one of the top young tap dancers in the world,” and by The New York Times as “A tap dancer of unquestionable radiance”, Casel has steadfast become an internationally sought after artist and powerful voice for the art form.


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