Nicholas BrothersYou’re not the only one who wishes you could tap dance. The United States Congress does too, and set this day aside in 1989 as


Who’s your favorite? Fred Astaire, the Nicholas Brothers, Ginger Rogers, Gregory Hines, Gene Kelly, the Rockettes or Mr. Bojangles himself, Bill Robinson?

Not only do you need to be a great dancer to excel at Tap, you must master rhythm and syncopation, riffing with the musicians as a member of the band as well as a dancer, playing your feet and the floor.

Tap grew out of Irish Step Dancing, English Clog Dancing and the Juba Dance from southern minstrel shows. William Henry Lane, the first black man to appear with an otherwise all-white minstrel show, is credited as the forebear of modern Tap, working under the stage name of Master Juba in the 1840s.

As minstrel shows faded away, Vaudeville embraced Tap Dance, and when Swing and Jazz music gained popularity, Tap had found its soul mate. Then motion picture musicals took over and Tap Dance enjoyed a Golden Age, selling millions of pairs of tap shoes and uncounted hours of dance lessons.

While not as popular as it once was, Tap Dancing is alive and well. In recent decades, Savion Glover has been the torch bearer, a lousy dresser compared to the Tap stars of yesteryear, but a great dancer who has brought the Joy of Tap to a new generation.

•Suggested Activities: Doing the shim sham shimmy.

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