Forget Your Troubles, C’mon Get Tappy

Cartier Williams

On May 25, tappers everywhere will celebrate National Tap Dance Day in honor of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday. Check out this sampling of events held in May to get your tap on and honor some of the biggest hoofers in tap dance history.

  • For the second year, San Diego Civic Dance Arts will organize a tap flash mob in Balboa Park on Sunday, May 24. Registered dancers learn choreography from YouTube videos and will meet the day of to rehearse.

  • May 17–24 in New York City, the American Tap Dance Foundation will host its first-ever Tap Treasures Tap Dance Hunt and Tour. The event will lead participants through the city’s most famous and historic tap dance locations, where they’ll take photos and answer clues. The winner will take home a $500 ATDF gift certificate.

  • May 29–31, the Las Vegas Tap Festival (LV Tap Fest) will offer tap jams and classes, culminating in a finale featuring the instructors, dance companies and special guest performers.

San Diego Civic Dance Arts' tap flash mob

Photos from top: by Debi Field, courtesy ATDF; by Chantal Darquenne, courtesy of San Diego Civic Dance Arts

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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