What is Tap Dance?

Tap Dance is making music and dancing at the same time...

It's letting the rhythm speak through your body and feet...

it's elegant, it's vintage, it's new..

 

it has no limits

Scroll down for history

Tap Dance is an art form with many names. In Norway we call it "Steppdans", but the original name is Tap dance. A tap dancer is both a dancer and a musician. We move gracefully while making rhythms with our feet.

 

Tap dance is an African-American dance form. When slaves where brought to the United States, their instruments and belongings where taken from them. The only way to communicate was through their feet. 

Tap dance is a highly improvised dance. It started becoming more popular in the minstrels and vaudeville shows around America in the late 1800's. Then it was taken to the stage. In New York is where it especially grew and had a high peek during the jazz era of the 1920's and 30's. Everyone knew how to Tap Dance.

Two lineages can be followed in Tap dance. One is through films and the Golden age of Hollywood, and one is through music and orchestras. It became a standard to have Tap dancers in the big orchestras like Duke Ellington or Cab Calloway.

First really famous Tap dancer was Mr. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. He is remembered as the father of Tap Dance. As films became more prominent, amazing dancers as The Nicholas brothers, John Bubbles, Jeni Le Gon, Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Condos Brothers and many more!

As a result of the segregation in America, black performers where not allowed to be the stars in films, or have solos. Showing that Tap Dance was their heritage, they made beautiful history in Tap Dance. The Nicholas brothers has one of the most famous dance sequences in film history with their choreography in "Stormy weather" from 1943.

Into the 1950's and 60's the Hoofers came along. This was the masters that had a style that was mostly improvised and jamming as musicians. The way they grooved and played in the music was unique. Names to mention is Jimmy Slydes, Buster Brown, Chuck Green, Baby Laurence, Bunny Briggs, Sandman Sims and more. These masters continued way out into the 80's or until they couldn't dance any longer.

After the great depression new Tap dancers emerged, like Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. Tap dance revitalised in the public eye. What became new was the emerging of companies and stage performances. Brenda Bufalino, Jane Goldberg, Heather Cornell, Lynn Daily, Sarah Petroni and many more founded their companies during the 80's and 90's. 

Dancers that has defined todays history is dancers like Savion Glover, Jason Samuel Smith, Omar Edwards, Ayodele Casel (check out "not your ordinary tappers"). And also Michelle Dorrance, Derick Grant, Josh Hilberman, Joseph Wiggan, Guillem Alonso, Tamango, Roxane Butterfly, Michela Marina Lerman, Andrew Nemr, Sarah Reich, Chloe Arnold, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Nico Rubio and so many more!

What is wonderful with Tap Dance is that it has become an inclusive art form, with no age limits, no music preference and very multicultural. Tap dance is always evolving. It is an art form that both preserve old traditions and explore new ways. You can tap to all kind of music or even make your own (check out Sarah Reich's Albums).

 

About Tickle Toes

Tickle Toes was started in 2002 by Kjersti Evensen. Since then, we have had thousands of dancers in the studio. Tickle Toes has in all years conveyed tap dance history and knowledge of the dance form. We are proud of this, and it is fantastic to be able to contribute to a great environment for Tap dance in Norway today. In 2020 the school had new owners and became a part of A-custica. We also have a Tap dance department at Hamar.

This is how we still see Tap Dance.

As music, as percussion, as dance.