Did you know that tap dancing is an American dance that started through the rhythmic dancing that slaves brought with them and blended in other cultural aspects to get the tap dancing that exists today? Tap dancing has a fascinating history.
Let Virtuous Dance Center introduces you to this hidden history, and get you excited to try tap dance lessons.
- Early Beginnings of Tap Dancing
It’s hard to believe that something so joyful and beautiful comes from something as tragic and horrible as the slave trade, but it’s true. Slaves from Africa brought with them their style of communication over long distances using drums. Slave owners were worried about this connection, so they tried to prevent their slaves from using drugs and other instruments. The slaves kept these rhythms by using their feet to tap out messages. This dance was called the Juba.
- Combination of Dances
The Juba over the years combined with traditional Irish dancing, think Riverdance, and English clog dances to start forming the dance we know today as Tap Dance. These different dances would influence each other, and modern tap slowly evolved during the 1900s through the 1920s. The introduction of jazz continued to help this dance art form change over time.
- Tap Dance and Entertainment
Entertainment options of Minstrel and Vaudeville act incorporated the use of early tap into the acts. One of the earliest American acts was called The Black Crook back in 1866, and had both Minstrel and Clog dancers. Then came Minstrel Misses in 1902 that used the term Tap and Stepdance. Early Hollywood used tap dancing in the movies, and many of the famous actors and actresses of the time performed tap dancing.
Tap dance itself wasn’t called by this name until about the 1900s and wasn’t named in any written sources until about 1928.
A slang term for someone that tap dances is a hoofer. This term started being used around the early 20th century. Tap shoes with aluminum heels and toes didn’t start to be made until about 1910.
Some of the biggest names in tap history includes William Henry Lane, Maceo Anderson, Bill Robinson, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gregory Hines, Doris Day, Gene Kelly, Mable Lee, Jeni LeGon, Florence Mills, Howard Sims, John Sublett, Tommy Sutton, Shirley Temple, Arthur Duncan, and many more. Are you ready to start participating in this amazing dance?