The beauty of Tap dance….

Tap dance is a style of dance in which a dancer wearing shoes fitted with heel and toe taps sounds out audible beats by rhythmically striking the floor or any other hard surface.

Image ref: Safford

History to Tap dance:

History has it that tap dancing originated in the United States through the fusion of several ethnic percussive dances, primarily West African sacred and secular step dances (known as gioube) and Scottish, Irish, and English clog dances, hornpipes, and jigs.

Until the last few decades of the 20th century, it was believed that enslaved Africans and Irish indentured servants had observed each other’s dances on Southern plantations and that tap dancing was born from this contact. In the late 20th century, however, researchers suggested that tap instead was nurtured in such urban environments as the Five Points District in New York City, where a variety of ethnic groups lived side by side under crowded conditions and in constant contact with the distinctly urban rhythms and syncopations of the machine age.

Why is tap dancing enjoyed from generation to generation?

Tap dance is acclaimed as the original street dance.

Image ref: Mental Floss

In the 1930s, tap dancers would gather on city street corners to trade steps and challenge one another, in a precursor to the B-boy battles of later decades. Philadelphia had a particularly vibrant dance culture. Different corners had reputations for their respective skill level. For example, if you were just starting out, you would go to one corner to dance with other beginner tap dancers. When you thought you were ready, you could move to another corner and see if you could hang with more experienced dancers. And any time you wanted, you could also walk a couple blocks down and watch the pros really dance.

Tap dance helped dancers survive during leaner times. 

Harlem Renaissance

The history books recorded that back in the day, there was a big tree on 7th Avenue in Harlem in New York City, called the Tree of Hope. The dancers who weren’t working used to hang out under this tree because it cast shade. In the 1920s, producers would come down to the tree and book dancers for gigs. What made this possible: the dancers — who may or may not have ever danced together — all knew certain standard dance routines. With these dances as a starting point, they could add a few elements like a soft shoe or a slow dance to quickly put together a four-minute act — the average back then.

The popularity of tap dancing began to decline in the 1950s. This change is often attributed to a series of events in the 1940s like the introduction of ballet into the Broadway show. Another factor in the waning of tap dance was a dramatic drop in nightclub attendance, as men and women who had come home from service overseas concentrated on getting an education, starting careers, and raising families.

Image ref: Theatrely

Well, the introduction of television and the rise of Las Vegas, Nevada, as a popular tourist attraction saved tap dance from a slow death. Variety shows, which included tap dancers along with their other acts, were among the most popular programs in the early decades of television.

Although the tap dance street corner recruiting ground no longer exists, it is now taught within the confines of dance schools, where the emphasis is on building virtuosity and artistic vision.

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