or jazz, tap dancing involves making noise with your feet. Although your body
moves, the most impressive and important part of tap is your feet because they
make the rhythmical noise.
Part of the
evolution of tap is West Africa. Improvisation and rhythm stem from West African
roots. They emerged during slavery when slaves would beat drums as signals.
Laws soon enabled the slaves from using drums so they came up with other means
to make noise. They used tambourines, bones and slapped their bodies to make
sounds like drums. They also stomped the ground the made more rhythm. Often
times, plantation owners would use their music to perform dances, such as reels.
In the 1800s,
minstrel shows began. These shows used white men, who painted their faces black
in performances. Mostly English and Irish immigrants performed these shows.
They would perform dances of the slaves, along with their own forms of dance.
The Essence of Old Virginia, one dance, was based on shuffling feet like the
slaves. This turned into Soft Shoe. The Jig and Clog were also used in these
City was one of main areas that the minstrel shows were performed in. William
Henry Lane, a free black slave, became one of the first greatest tapers known.
He was known as the “Master Juba” and did fast footwork of the jig
and African rhythms and beat. This was the beginning of tap.
As time went
on, tap evolved with the times. The Jazz Era played a big part in the birth
of tap. Jimmie Lunceford’s orchestra played a song, For Dancers Only,
which was used for a tap course line routine. Many musicians have written pieces
for tap dancers. Often times, the musicians and dancers would work with each
other to come up with a musical piece.
been many famous tapers throughout time who have added to the history of tap.
some of the famous tappers were Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ruby Keeler, Ann Miller,
King Rasus Brown, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, For Lee “Buck”
Washington and many more.
Brown was a great buck dancer. Buck dancing is a blend of shuffle and tap, with
the body being close to the floor moving from the hips down and dancing flat-footed.
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson perfected Brown’s moves and appeared
with Shirley Temple.
when John W. Bubbles and Ford Lee “Buck” Washington joined together.
Buck played the piano as Bubbles danced. With this, the birth of rhythm tap.
Rhythm tap involves dropping the heel to add more flexibility in shifting accents.
The toe is the treble and the heel is the bass.
Tap has continued to grow and change. It has been performed on television, traveling shows, Broadway and Hollywood films. Tap can be performed individually, partnered or in groups to make a great amount of rhythmical noise.