My sister has been a tap-dancer for years, and as often when you live close to a person with a contagious disease, you get contaminated. In a good way 🙂 It is now often that we watch movies featuring Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly, one commenting on their skills, the other guffawing about their faces and elastic bodies. Yes, we are a good audience.
It is true that tap-dancers are acknowledged to be not only dancers, but percussionists and I would go as far as saying actors.
Now, I learn out of curiosity (yeah, I must be the theoretical part in the tandem of my sis and I) that Tap-dance was born in the XIX th century in New-York, from a blending of clog dance of Northern England, the jigs and reels of Ireland and Scotland with some rhythmic foot stamping of African dances.
Just picture this bunch of new immigrants, newly arrived in an unknown country, whose destiny was to “cook a stew” out of ingredients as diverse as the ones of the melting pot. Different nationalities, languages, social backgrounds, religions coming together to build a new country? This was unheard of at the time. They simply had to create their own culture.
So on a warm summer evening as there can be in NYC, somebody would start playing a jig on his violin in Five Points neighbourhood. Soon, heads popped at the windows, eyes filled with memories of their Irish motherland. It was not long before a man swept along his belle into a wild dance. Around them, people huddled closer, cheering and clapping and watching in awe the dexterity of the couple. Some would not stay on the bench however and a Nigerian mate enters into the circle, wiggling his body and clapping along with the music. “Hey dude, how do you do that?” asks an interested spectator. And one night after the other, they shared secrets and skills until the tap-dance as we know it today was born.