Tap dancing has the distinction of being a uniquely American art form, and its influence spreads far and wide across American performance art culture. From Fred Astaire to the Hoofer Club in Harlem to the 39th Annual Grammy Awards, tap has enthralled audiences for most of the 20th century and continues to do so in the current one. In this guide, you’ll find sites offering tap history, sources for tap news and reviews, and information about tap organizations and companies.
Tap dancing has evolved considerably to become the art form we know today. Before there were tap shoes, dancers wore soft shoes, or clogs. Tap dancing originated as Juba, a kind of dance practiced by African slaves. It melded with Irish dancing and continued to alter as it encountered the influence of jazz dance. The sites below cover the full span of tap history, and offer some more current sources for research.
- Sometimes the best way to learn about influential tap dancers is via their obituaries. Famous performers get coverage in quality papers; for example, see The New York Times obituary for LaVaughn Robinson.
- “Hoofer” is a slang term for a tap dancer that originated in the early 20th century.
For tap dance history …
The Independent Television Service (ITVS)
presents “Juba! Masters of Tap & Percussive Dance,” a Web site supporting the documentary of the same name. The documentary seeks to capture the role and resurgence of tap in modern American culture. The detailed timeline of tap emphasizes tap’s continuing connection with Juba, an early form of African dance.
has a page called “All About Tap Dance.” This introductory page is an amalgam of tidbits, quotes and profiles of important figures in tap history; it also provides links to other helpful sections of the site, such as the Tap Dance Dictionary
For a compilation of tap resources …
The tap dancing community may seem intimate and insular but in fact, dancers and enthusiasts alike ... read more »
If you’re looking for tap shows, events or classes, the first place to check is on the sites ... read more »
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