Questions: requires paragraph responses 1. Watch all the clips first. Describe what you see in 75-100 words for each clip.( so the max number of words would be 300 words) Describe the differences in body posture, movement, music and costume that you see.
2. Do you think its easier to tap with music or without when performing in a group. Why?
3. Which dance is your favorite and why? Which tap dance do you think is the most difficult? Why?
A Brief Tap History:
A common way tap dance is seen is through a tap dance challenge. A dance challenge is any competition, contest, breakdown, or showdown in which dancers compete before an audience of spectators or judges. Motivated by a dare, focused by strict attention to one’s opponent, and developed through the stealing and trading of steps, the tap challenge is the dynamic and rhythmically expressive “engine” that drives tap dancing.
Tap dance, like jazz, is considered to be born in America. It evolved over a period of about three hundred years. Tap emerged in the southern United States in the 1700s. The Irish jig (a musical and dance form) and West African gioube (sacred and secular stepping dances) mutated into the American jig and juba. These in turn became juxtaposed and fused into a form of dancing called “jigging” which, in the 1800s, was taken up by white and black minstrel-show dancers who developed tap into a popular nineteenth-century stage entertainment.
Tap dance was heavily influenced by the Irish and African American cultures that were in America. In the 1500's enslaved Africans were shipped to the West Indies and were brought up on deck after meals and forced to “exercise”-- to dance for an hour or two to the accompaniment of bag-pipes, harps, and fiddles (Emery 1988: 6-9). In the absence of traditional drums, slaves danced to the music of upturned buckets and tubs. The rattle and restriction of chains may have been the first subtle changes in African dance as it evolved toward becoming an African-American style of dance..
In the 1650s, during the Thirteen War between England and Spain (1641-54) and under the command of Oliver Cromwell, an estimated 40,000 Celtic Irish solders were shipped to Spain, France, Poland, and Italy. After deporting the men, Cromwell succeeded in deporting the widows, deserted wives, and destitute families of soldiers left behind. Thereafter, thousands of Irish men, women and children found themselves hijacked, deported, exiled, low-interest loaned or sold into the new English tobacco islands of the Caribbean. Within a few years, substantial proportions of mostly Atlantic Coast Africans were thrown on the so-called coffin ships and transported to the Caribbean. In an environment that was dominated by the English sugar plantation owner, Irish indentured servants and West African slaves worked and slaved together. The cultural exchange between first-generation enslaved Africans and indentured Irishmen would continue through the late 1600s on plantations, and in urban centers during the transition from white indentured servitude to African slave labor.
With the passage of the Slave Laws in the 1740s prohibiting the beating of drums for the fear of slave uprisings, there developed creative substitutes for drumming, such as bone- clapping, hand-clapping, and percussive footwork. Both the Irish and African Americans took pride in skills like dancing while balancing a glass of beer or water on their heads, and stepping to intricate rhythmic patterns while singing or lilting these same rhythms. Some contend that the cakewalk, a strutting and prancing dance originated by plantation slaves to imitate and satirize the manners of their white masters, borrows from the Irish tradition of dancing competitively for a cake.
By 1800, “jigging” became the general term for this new American percussive hybrid that was recognized as a “black” style of dancing in which the body was bent at the waist and movement was restricted from the waist down; jumping, springing, and winging air steps made it possible for the air-born dancer, upon taking off or landing, to produce a rapid and rhythmic shuffling in the feet. Though African-Americans and European-Americans borrowed and copied from each other, there was a stronger draw of African-American folk material by white performers. By 1840, the minstrel shows consisted of all white performers blackening their faces in imitation of African Americans dancing. These minstrel shows became the most popular form of entertainment in America.
It is largely because of William Henry Lane (c.1825-52) that tap dancing in the minstrel period was able to retain its African-American integrity. Lane grew up surrounded by other free blacks and Irish immigrants. Learning to dance from a talented uncle, Lane was unsurpassed in grace and technique. He became popular by imitating the steps of famous minstrel dancers of the day, and then executing his own specialty steps which no one could copy. In 1844, after beating the reining Irish-American minstrel John Diamond (1823-1857) in a series of challenge dances, Lane was hailed “King of All Dancers” and proclaimed “Master Juba.” He was the first African American dancer to tour with the all-white minstrel troupe and to perform without blackface makeup for the Queen of England (Winter 1948). Lane is considered the single most influential performer in nineteenth century dance. His grafting of African rhythms and a loose body styling onto the exacting techniques of jig and clog forged a new rhythmic blend of percussive dance that was considered the earliest form of American tap dance (Sommer 1988, 58)
Early styles of tapping utilized hard-soled shoes, clogs, or hobnailed boots. It was not until the early decades of the twentieth century that metal plates (or taps) appeared on shoes of dancers on the Broadway musical stage. From the 1980’s to recent times, tap’s absorption of hip-hop rhythms has attracted a fierce and multi-ethnic new breed of male and female dancers who continue to challenge and evolve the dance form.