24 Sep 2005
Tapping into tap: resources for tap lovers
Dance Magazine, Sept, 2005 by Jane Goldberg
Tap Heat, The Complete DVD TAP HEAT, Inc. 2004. DVD (64 mins.). $34.95. www.tapheat.com.
Jason Samuels Smith is playing basketball for a New York minute with a first-rate team that (surprise!) metamorphoses into a band of terrific tappers. Jason appears suspiciously on a "most wanted" hit list. His adorable, sexy mug is challenged by keeper of the flame Arthur Duncan (from TV's "The Lawrence Welk Show"). The challenge unfolds glamorously on lit stages into a dancing duel of the old-style rhythm tap and a more "show tap"--based modality. Even if you haven't followed the "look at" vs. "listen to" tap debates, you'll have as much fun as the dancers do tongue-in-cheek on the tongue-in-groove stages. Choreographer Danny Daniels, terrific at moving large groups of hoofers around, doesn't disappoint. The word "complete" has been added to this DVD because it includes not only the original 14-minute short, but also a 50-minute Jason Samuels Smith Tap Workout session, two-minute drills, an exclusive Jason improvisation, a behind-the-scenes interview with director Dean Hargrove, production stills, biographies, and a theatrical trailer.
Related Results: Jason Samuels Smith reviews
Heat Pick 20: Jason Smith
Eddie Brown's B.S. Chorus On Tap! 2004. DVD (198 mins.). $40. www.justtap.com.
Eddie Brown, the legendary favorite son of the West Coast, performed happily on the festival circuit of the 1980s. By the time he died, his proteges, including Sam Weber (himself a hugely popular performer and teacher), knew some of his material. Weber is a clear, loving, knowledgeable interpreter of the Eddie Brown style. Since Brown was "anything but b.s.," Weber even renames the dance, calling it "The Eddie Brown Choruses." He takes the viewer through the 64 bars of "musical feet" and turns around so you can see what his precision feet are doing. He anticipates your questions. There's also footage of Brown himself dancing. This DVD is produced by Rusty Frank, author of Tap: The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories 1900-1955.
Tapping the Source: Tap Dance Stories, Theory, and Practice
By Brenda Bufalino. New Paltz, New York: Codhill Press 2004. 238 pp. Illustrated. $24.95 (paper).
Tapping pioneer and professor of tapology Brenda Bufalino has written a memoir that covers her Swampscott, MA background, her apprenticeship and partnership with tap legend Honi Coles, her love of nature as a source for creativity, and her vision for the future of tap. Bufalino's story is a personal account of her life as a jazz artist. She opens up thought-provoking questions, such as whether tap historically was too personality driven or whether repertoire and pedagogy will preserve the art. Offering insight into her maverick personality, Bufalino shows her mission as an artist. She takes you around the world on her solo and company tours and to Woodpeckers Tap Dance Center, the home for tap she created in SoHo.
Joy2Learn.org: Dancing with Gregory Hines
Online educational program, www.joy2learn.org.
The joy2learn.org folks produced a web-based program on CD-ROM that has to be played on a computer. It is an interactive program where you point and click your way through the last footage Gregory Hines gave the world--talking tap, steps, lore, costumes, and dancers he adored. Originally designed for public school kids, the CD-ROM is fantastic for a last look at the purist and funny Gregory, great for any age tap lover.
The Gregory Hines Collection of American Top Dance
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
The library recently combined all its tapping videos, audiotapes, memorabilia, film, articles, and books, under Hines' name for more visibility, and to create a substantial collection for the once "lost art" of tap dancing. The collection now houses more than 1,200 items including Letitia Jay's "Tap Happenings" of 1969 as well as special collections donated by contemporary hoofers. There's new footage of Hines as a wee toddler with his older brother Maurice, Jr., introduced by Jackie Gleason. If you study him, you can see how he evolved from what Savion Glover calls "regular" time-step tap dancing into his musically driven, funky, freer style as an adult. Also on tap, rare outtakes from rehearsals of Coppola's film The Cotton Club and guest appearances on TV specials. You'll have to go to the library in person to see this entire collection, but for starters, you can find out what's "tappening" online. www.nypl.org/research/lpa/dan/hines/in dex.html.
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