What do you get when you combine African drum rhythms and dance movements with English clog and Irish step dancing techniques? Tap dance… All these dance styles jumble to produce a percussive tapping sound when the tap shoes are hit against a hard surface. An American theatrical dance form, tap dance is often known as ‘Second American Past Time’. Tap dance is performed using tap shoes that have metal taps attached under the shoe toe and heel. However, with time, various new tap dance steps have come up while developing the dance form into a standardized vocabulary. Now coming to the history of tap dancing, no one is certain about who, when and how it was created. Nonetheless, its roots can be taken to the slavery in the southern United States in the early 19th century. Continue browsing further to know more interesting and amazing information on the origin and background of tap dancing.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Tap Dancing
Tap dance is known to have evolved from various European dance steps, such as Scottish, Irish and English clog dances, jigs and hornpipes, fused with different secular and religious African step dances, loosely known as “juba” dances and “ring shouts”. Between the 1600s and early 1800s, this dance form was primarily linked with the enslaved Africans. It was seen as in the form of dance contests performed by the slaves and the blacks. This gave others a chance to copy one another’s styles, thereby developing and modernizing the dance. Eventually, this blend of jig and juba took the minstrel stage and was polished by the Americans into what we call it today as “American tap dance”.
The shows that the audience got a taste of in the late 19th century included two popular techniques: a fast style in wooden-sole shoes, also called buck-and-wing, demonstrated by Jimmy Doyle and Harland Dixon, and a soft-shoe, a smooth, leather-sole style popularized by George Primrose. Both these styles gradually merged by the 1920s to give tap shoes by adding metal plates or taps to leather-soled shoes. A slower and more syncopated form of tap dance was established and popularized by John Bubbles. During that era, Slap and Happy (Harold Daniels and Leslie Irvin), and Stump and Stumpy (James Cross and Harold Cromer) were some of the most famous tap dance teams. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson became America’s one of the most popular tap dancers during that period.
With the beginning of the 1930s and 1940s, tap dance reached its peak with further development and expansion. Fred Astaire, Paul Draper and Ray Bolger were some of the best tap dancers in the world. Tap dance steps were fused with steps from Lindy Pop, such as “flying swing outs” and “flying circles”. Ballet and modern dance movements were further included in the dance style by Gene Kelly in the 1950s. Ann Miller came to be known as one of America’s top female tap dancers due to her unbelievable speed. However, tap dance lost its charm after the 1940s. The audience got more inclined towards rock and roll, pop and new jazz dance styles. But, with the release of the 1989 movie “Tap”, tap dance got back into the grove and since then, there is no looking back. It saw a complete makeover and resurgence.
Savion Glover is one of the renowned contemporary tap dancers known for choreographing Broadways shows, such as ‘Bring in da Noise’ and ‘Bring in da Funk’. The current generation is increasingly getting attracted towards tap dancing and hence, one can find a number of tap dancing classes and schools coming up in the America. Though it is not very popular outside the US, it certainly has become an international dance form. Shuffle, shuffle ball change, flap, flap heel, cramproll, buffalo, Maxi Ford, single and double pullbacks, wings, Cincinnati, the shim sham shimmy, Waltz Clog, the paddle and roll, the paradiddle, stomp, brushes, scuffs, single and double toe punches, hot steps, heel clicks, single, double and triple time steps, riffs, over-the-tops, military time step, New Yorkers, and chugs are some of the most common steps used in tap dancing. New steps are continuously being introduced by combining the basic steps.