Celebrate National Tap Day with Sarah Reich's New Video
Happy National Tap Day, Pluggers! We're celebrating one of our favorite dance styles by honoring one of the most creative and talented hoofers in history - Bill Bojangles. Time for a little history lesson. He was born Luther Robinson on May 25th, 1878 in Richmond, Virginia (happy birthday, Bill!). His early life is a bit of a mystery, but we do know he began tapping to make a little extra pennies at the tender age of 5. A promoter saw him dance and put him in a local minstrel show (which, at the time, were predominately performed by white performers in blackface paint).
At age 13, he ran away to Washington D.C., where he was eventually picked up for a touring show called The South Before The War. in 1898, he joined the United States Army to fight in the Spanish-American War, where he was accidentally wounded by another soldier cleaning his gun. He eventually made his way to Brooklyn, where he won a gold medal at a dance contest at the Bijou Theater against Harry Swinton, who was considered to be one of the best dancers of the time. That publicity helped him get more work in traveling shows and Vaudeville troupes.
in 1928, Bill starred in Blackbirds of 1928 on Broadway, where it was a huge success. He continued to perform in several other Broadway shows, as well as The Hot Mikado, which was a jazz adaptation of one of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta. He also performed at the 1939 New York's World Fair, as well as in numerous films; he is particularly famous for his appearances with child sensation Shirley Temple. Bill is known as the highest paid African American performer of his era and left an incredible print on tap dance as a whole.
An icon of this caliber deserves to be recognized, especially on National Tap Day! It's so important to look back at our dance history, so we can be excited about the future of dance. Enter Sarah Reich. She's established herself as one of the new leaders in tap. She was only 15 when she was featured in Dance Spirit Magazine's "20 Hot Tappers Under 20," and was also named "25 to Watch" in Dance Magazine in 2017. She's a pop culture icon, due in part to her video collaborations and live performances with Postmodern Jukebox (you can catch her in A Star Wars-Themed tribute The Tap Awakens, and Thriller featuring Wayne Brady). She's performed at notable venues like The Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theater and the Kodak/Dolby Theater. She has also developed and taught at the Tap Music Project intensives around the country.
Sarah's new music video, Baked Bean Blues, drops today! It's a bright, catchy and super fun video that shows off her amazing rhythmic skills and fast feet - perfect to get you in the tapping mood! The future of tap has been a conversation weighing on our minds recently (did you catch our article "Why Isn't Tap At the Top"?). We're so glad that people like Sarah are paving the way for tap to get the recognition it deserves!
And the New DWTS Winner Is...🌟
Monday night marked the conclusion of Season 26 of Dancing With The Stars. And while this means it's going to be awhile until we get to watch new competitors, it also means that we have a new champion! Congrats to Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon for winning the mirrorball trophy.
Rippon and his partner, professional dancer Jenna Johnson, were crowned the winners after four weeks of hard competition. Said Johnson: "I would do it a million times over again. He was a blast." The finalists included ice skater Tonya Harding and partner Sasha Farber, as well as football player Josh Norman and his partner Sharna Burgess.
This certainly isn't his first medal. The figure skating champ (and fan favorite) won a bronze medal in the most recent Winter Olympics. Their final routine on Monday's show was a final groovy freestyle routine to DJ Kass's "Scooby Doo Pa Pa". Congrats, guys!
Watch the full routine below
Paul Taylor Has Named His Next-In-Line
There's been a lot of talk of royalty lately (did you watch the Royal wedding this weekend? How about that DRESS, right?? 😍 ). Well, if someone asked you to name American modern dance royalty, what would you say? Martha Graham, José Limón, Trisha Brown, and of course, Paul Taylor.
At 87 years old, Paul Taylor is still making dances. He's lead a remarkable life: he earned his degree from Juilliard in 1953, and assembled a group of dancers to perform his work in 1954. He performed as a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company for seven seasons and continued to choreograph for his own company, as well as New York City Ballet. Today he is one of the most recognizable names in dance, and he continues to develop new work on his company, which performs around the United States and internationally.
There's been a lot of speculation recently as to who would take over for his company, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, because 87 is certainly no spring chicken! Well, we finally have our answer. In a press release distributed on Friday, the choreographer announced that he has created a new position for dancer Michael Novak called Artistic Director Designate. Mr. Taylor will continue in his role of choreographer and Artistic Director of the company while preparing Mr. Novak to take over as Artistic Director when Mr. Taylor chooses to retire.
Mr. Novak is fairly young to take on such a role - he's only 35, and has been a member of the company since 2010. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Dance, and was a 2011 nominee for the Clive Barnes Dance Foundation Dance Award. Mr. Novak states: “Needless to say I am deeply honored and humbled that Mr. Taylor is entrusting me with his legacy. I am a big, big believer in the power and range of the Taylor canon. To help Mr. Taylor move his company forward in the 21st century and to be given the gift of guidance from Mr. Taylor as I begin this new phase of my career is a dream come true.”
Just In Time For National Tap Day...
Last week, we brought you the scoop on a discussion surrounding tap right now - is tap getting the recognition that it deserves? (ICYMI - read it here). Though it's a complicated answer, one thing is pretty clear - tap is doing pretty well in terms of performances! To that point: tapping dynamite Nick Young just released a new tap solo just in time for National Tap Dance Day on May 25. Tap is in the air, and Young has given us a preview of something special that's sure to give you a dose of inspiration and make you want to grab your tap shoes.
Young caught our attention after he appeared in the top 20 of SYTYCD, Season 8. He's also choreographed for SYTYCD: The Next Generation, and appeared on Glee and Shake It Up. He recently founded his company Rhythmatic Tap Company, which was featured on NBC's "World Of Dance." They've been working on developing a new full-length show called "On Top of the World,” and based on this sneak peek, we know it’s going to be pretty awesome.
We're looking forward to seeing what this fantastic tapper does with an evening-length work; but in the meantime, this snippet will have to satisfy. It doesn’t get more unique than Young’s combination of tap rhythms and intricate choreography. It’s never what you’d expect, it breaks all tap norms, and it’s positively hypnotic. The show will be premiering in early June, just days after National Tap Dance Day (clever marketing).