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The celebration of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's birthday comes each year May 25, and the dance world goes wild for it! Since 1989 the day has been celebrated by tap lovers everywhere through music, movement and festivals.

Interested in joining the party this year? Here's one special way to celebrate NTDD in 2019.

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Max Pollak and TCYE Members dancing at a National Tap Dance Day celebration last year. Photo by Wallace Flores

Since 1989, tap dancers have been celebrating National Tap Dance Day (NTDD) on and around May 25, the birthday of tap dance legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. This year, prime events are happening in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago.

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Coles in a studio shot for My One and Only. He was known for wearing fine tailored suits, giving him an air of sophistication. Photo by Kenn Duncan, courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

Charles "Honi" Coles was an American rhythm tap dancer known for his speed and sophisticated style. He was a founding member of the Copasetics, as well as one half of the popular vaudeville duo "Coles & Atkins," whose song-and-dance routines epitomized the vaudeville class act—routines that countered blackface stereotypes. Coles' later collaborative work with tapper Brenda Bufalino helped revive tap dance in the 1970s and led to the founding of the American Tap Dance Foundation in New York City.

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Harold (above) and Fayard in Stormy Weather (1943)

In our May issue’s History: Lesson Plan, we learn about Fayard and Harold Nicholas, aka the Nicholas Brothers, the tap dancing duo from Philly known for their one-of-a-kind “flash act” performances that combined fearless stunts, technical proficiency and brilliant showmanship.

Watch the Nicholas Brothers in “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” from the 1942 film Orchestra Wives. In it, Harold debuted his signature flash move: running up a wall, launching into a back-flip and then landing in a full split. Meanwhile, Fayard charged through space with a traveling axle turn that landed in a split.

National Tap Dance Day is on Wednesday, May 25th. Check out a few of the events happening this year.

Brooklyn, New York: The American Tap Dance Foundation will celebrate National Tap Dance Day on Sunday, May 22, with a performance 12–1 at The Evergreens Cemetery, the gravesite of tap legend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. For more info, visit:

Fort Worth, Texas: Tap dance organization Arts Fifth Avenue will host festivities and a free performance starting at 7 pm at Arts Fifth Avenue outdoor stage. For more info, visit:

Allentown, Pennsylvania: Tap Ties Company is hosting a weekend of master classes and concerts at Cedar Crest College, May 21–22. Guest artists include Karen Callaway Williams and Germaine Salsberg. For more info, visit:

Photo courtesy of Dance Magazine archives

For more on the Nicholas Brothers and National Tap Dance Day, subscribe to Dance Teacher and receive the May issue.


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