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HISTORY OF Tap Dance

Tap Dance, style of American theatrical dance, distinguished by percussive footwork, that marks out precise rhythmic patterns on the floor. Some descriptive step names are brush, flap, shuffle, ball change, and cramp roll. The sources of tap dancing include the Irish solo step dance, the English clog dance, and African dance movements. Among the slaves in the southern United States, these merged by the early 19th century into folk styles, the modern descendants of which include buck-and-wing dancing and southern United States clogging (both done in leather-sole shoes). The slave dances were adapted theatrically in 1828 in the first blackface minstrel show, in the dancing of Thomas "Daddy" Rice. In late 19th-century minstrel shows and showboat routines, two techniques were popularized: a fast style in wooden-sole shoes, also called buck-and-wing, exemplified by the duo of Jimmy Doyle and Harland Dixon; and soft-shoe, a smooth, leather-sole style made famous by George Primrose. These styles gradually coalesced, and by the 1920s metal plates, or taps, had been added to leather-soled shoes. In the 1920s and 1930s black dancers contributed to the development of new styles of tap dance, and black dance teams became popular for their acrobatic, often satirical acts. John Bubbles popularized a slower, more syncopated style of tap dance. Prominent dance teams of the era included Slap and Happy (Harold Daniels and Leslie Irvin) and Stump and Stumpy (James Cross and Harold Cromer). Jazz provided further rhythmic complexity, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson became America's most famous tap dancer. The style was further expanded in the 1930s and 1940s, when dancers such as Fred Astaire, Paul Draper, Ray Bolger, and, in the late 1950s, Gene Kelly added movements from ballet and modern dance. In the late 1970s and early 1980s interest in tap dance underwent a resurgence. Tap dancing, a truly American art form, is once again rat-a-tatting into the nation's consciousness, in all its variations from Fred Astaire grace to hip-hop antics. Savion Glover, the star and choreographer of Broadway's award-winning Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, is the latest messiah of a form that's loose-limbed, individual and inspired by the syncopated beat of urban life. The origins of tap dance can be traced to the antebellum South when African-American slaves, adept at copying Irish jigs, Virginia reels and Lancashire clogging, improvised and embellished those dances with their own African-style rhythms and movements. Popular on the vaudeville circuit and even more so in 1920s and '30s movies and theater, tap dance entered a long dormancy in the '50s and '60s, partly as a result of the black pride movement. In the past two decades, a few Broadway shows and movies, devotees, such as Gregory Hines, and dedicated dance teachers have worked hard to revive the art form. Now, with the innovative Bring in 'Da Noise, tap dance is once again making itself heard loud and clear and enjoying a new level of popularity.

Here are some Video Clips of Tap Dancers

  1. Clip One
  2. Clip Two
  3. Clip Three
  4. Clip Four
  5. Clip Five