Monday, May 26, 2014

National Tap Dance Day 2014

When I was 7 I had a break in between a couple of the dance classes I took each week, and while the other kids were learning to tap I would work on my homework..or at least that was the plan. I was mesmerized and it wasn't long before I was tapping in my jazz shoes and helping some of the kids practice their steps. My dance teacher asked my mom to buy me a pair of tap shoes and sign me up for the class but she was very hesitant, not wanting to buy another pair of dance shoes in the event I ended up not following through with dance. Finally my teacher convinced her to buy me some secondhand shoes and offered me the class for free so I could participate. Within the year I had my first dance solo, and it was tap. Within 3 years I had changed studios and started dancing competitively around the country, receiving my highest scores as well as scholarships for my tap routines. For much of my life tap was the dance form I excelled at and that came most naturally to me, and it is the one I fell completely in love with first. 

Eleanor Powell & Fred Astaire - Begin the Beguine (Cole Porter)
One of my favorite numbers to learn and perform.

Through the years I have been fortunate to meet and dance with some of the masters of tap, and to learn not just about tap as an art form but to hear firsthand about tap's rich history from many of the dancers who are credited with making tap what it is today.

Happy National Tap Dance Day!

The Nicholas Brothers (Harold & Fayard Nichols) - Stormy Weather
Considered one of the greatest tap dances ever filmed. I was fortunate to meet & dance with Fayard Nicholas.

A couple of the tappers I've danced with:

Jimmy Slyde
Received a Tony nomination for Black and Blue. His successful career spanned almost 6 decades.

Brenda Bufalino
Known as a trailblazer in tap. Choreographed the famed, "Morton Gould Tap Concerto"  with Charles "Honi" Coles.

Jeni LeGon, one of the 1st African American women to have a solo career in tap.
Swing is Here to Stay (1937)

One of the defining moments in my tap career was dancing with Gregory Hines. He was an incredible dancer, performer, and all-around wonderful man.

A dream day in my tap-dancing life, tapping & talking with:
Gregory Hines, Fayard Nicholas, Diane Walker, Jeni LeGon

Cholly Atkins & Jimmy Slyde