Last August, he used this language to assemble a nearly spontaneous performance at the TED Fellows Retreat in Pacific Grove, California. Nemr brought five members of his New York company, Cats Paying Dues, and he put out a call for nine local dancers to join them. The combined group rehearsed once at their first meeting, choreographing a piece using elements of the Shim Sham and BS Chorus. The result? A performance showcasing the rich history of tap dance while an elated group of dancers performed a freshly minted routine, flawlessly.
contains stories from Jeni LeGon, Delno Polk Bailey and a trailer from Taps Are Talking: Women In Tap, a theatrical dance production celebrating the history of female tap dancers. Some of the most important resources in Sole Stories will be found here.
When we look back to the films of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly or watch some of today’s West End and Broadway musicals, it can be easy to forget the long history that precedes the tap dance tradition. It is also sometimes easily forgotten that today tap dance is still breaking boundaries and redefining itself as an art form. The strong historical roots of tap dance have given way to a wealth of styles to explore and stories to tell by way of the rhythm, sound, and power of human feet.
Join us in celebrating New York Times dance critic Brian Seibert’s What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing, a new book on the history of tap dance, which illuminates tap’s complex origins and theatricalization. Seibert charts tap dancing’s growth in the vaudeville circuits and nightclubs of the early twentieth century, chronicles its spread to ubiquity on Broadway and in Hollywood, analyzes its post-World War II decline, and celebrates its reinvention by new generations of American and international performers. What the Eye Hears is a central account of American popular culture, as well as the pain and pride surrounding the complicated legacy of African Americans in show business.