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

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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