Arnold, a Washington, DC native, always knew what she wanted to do, throwing herself into the arts at the age of 6, where she first discovered dance. She became proficient at tap while also playing violin in the DC Youth Orchestra. She made varsity in soccer, tennis, track & field and cross-country in high school. She was also a scholar, winning several academic awards, including the prestigious Bill Gates Millennium Award.
However, even with all of those natural skills, it was as a teenager that she began to take tap seriously. Her passion for the art form led her to train under some of the Nation’s most accomplished dancers, performing at The Kennedy Center with both Savion Glover and Debbie Allen, in separate productions. Those experiences played a huge role in her decision to turn down a full ride from Harvard University to instead attend Columbia University in New York, which allowed her to continue training with the best, including artists Jason Samuels Smith, Baakari Wilder, Ted Levy, Glover and of course, Allen, who served the crucial role as Arnold’s mentor.
Allen saw potential in her protégé, and made it clear that she had so much more to do. The Houston native, who at the time had just finished her stint as executive producer/director/writer for 1980s sitcom A Different World, told the young tap sensation to expand her skill set—and her vision—demanding that she too become a triple threat as an actor, director and dancer, thus giving her several options in Hollywood… and in life.
Armed with this call to action, Arnold followed her mentor’s lead, establishing the DC Tap Festival along with her sister Maud. The festival, which takes place each April in their hometown, features four generations of the World’s premier tap dance artists as well as students from across the country engaging in master classes, history talks, jam sessions, a student showcase and culminates in a concert featuring both classic dancers and students.
The sisters also founded Chloé and Maud Productions, and their mission is to “Inspire generations of tap dancers from the District of Columbia and abroad, and to expand the respect and appreciation for this classic art form.”
Arnold’s all-female dance troupe, Syncopated Ladies, allows her to experiment with original choreography to popular songs from stage to television. Her choreographed dances can be found on almost every broadcast channel, including CBS’ Late Late Show with James Corden, FOX’ So You Think You Can Dance, and NBC’s America’s Got Talent. The group recently performed a tribute to the late, great cultural icon, Prince in Detroit, and one of their latest videos, a tap reimagining of Beyoncé’s “Formation,” went viral, even catching the pop star’s attention, which led to her asking them to perform during her Ivy Park clothing line launch in London.
All of these projects are bringing Chloé’s vision—to place the art of tap dance on the high pedestal it deserves—closer to reality. Of course, that doesn’t mean she will stop planning ahead. She’s already planning next year’s festival, envisioning the backdrop for her next originally choreographed event, and putting the idea of one day sharing the stage with Beyoncé out into the universe. She won’t stop until it’s all done. She’ll keep planning her future with imagination and wisdom.
It’s what visionaries do.