Kate's Note: Tap Utopia

December 6, 2010

One of the inspiring things about the tap community is that if you’re passionate about tap dance, its members will welcome you. It doesn’t matter who you are: If you’ve got something to say with your feet, they’ll listen.


Go to any tap festival and you may see a 90-year-old African American man onstage with a 20-year-old white college student, laughing and riffing with each other. You may see an unassuming group of teens—all different heights, all different body types, all different essences— jamming together, creating rhythms and music, and looking (and sounding) cooler than they’ll ever know. And as for the grand finale—the Shim Sham (p. 56)—all bets are off. Everyone’s invited up to share in the fun, even dance editors who can follow along!


But what happens when you love tapping so much that you want to make it your career? While professional ballet dancers can join a company right out of high school and stay there for 25 years (with health benefits and a sense of security), tap dancers often have to make their own opportunities. In fact, many successful rhythm tappers these days are bona fide entrepreneurs.


In this issue of Dance Spirit, we’re looking at what it takes to go pro in the tap world. We’ve gathered advice and tips from successful hoofers and Broadway-style rhythm makers about how to make a living as a tapper in “Tapportunities,” p. 50.


Plus, DS profiles one fresh-faced tapper who’s creating quite a buzz: cover girl Elizabeth Burke (“Listen Up!” p. 46). In 2008, Michelle Dorrance (one of the tap community’s brightest stars) sent me an e-mail about the young tapper. Here’s what it said: “Elizabeth is incredibly musically sophisticated and technically sharp—so clean—and such a natural onstage, not to mention a natural doing anyone’s choreography (as is illustrated when seasoned professionals ask her to be part of a cast with dancers twice her age).” How’s that for an endorsement?!


After you rip out Elizabeth’s pictures to hang inside your locker at school, there’s so much more for you to love! “Black Swan: Behind the Scenes,” p. 24, takes you to the set of the movie Black Swan, and “Every Dancer’s Holiday Wish List,” p. 38, shows you the hottest gifts (to give and receive) of the year. Plus, 28 Future Stars are pictured starting on p. 64—and that’s just the beginning.


So snuggle up in your slippers, take a load off those feet and dive in. Oh, and last but definitely not least, to all of Dance Spirit’s faithful readers:

Happy Holidays!


Love all of us at Dance Spirit,

Kate Lydon


Photo by MSG Entertainment.