My goodness, as temperatures soar over Europe I’ve found myself wanting to do little else but sit out the heat and read.
My ever supportive husband, who indulges my passion for tap, gifted me two books about the genre that I’ve been wanting to read for ages, for my birthday. This heat has therefore found me engrossed in the pages of Rusty Frank’s Tap! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories 1900-1955, and man it’s got me feeling nostalgic.
Reading the stories of these tap greats in their own words really paints a vivid picture of the world of tap dance in their time and has got me wishing, if only for a day, that we could all still be competing for the best street corner in Philadelphia, or stealing steps at the Hoofer’s Club in Harlem, or having a constant stream of talent touring through our cities playing the very many venues that existed then.
Don’t get me wrong, obviously there are many advantages to living in this day and age, but to be immersed in the intense, heady world that spawned our art form just sounds like heaven to me right now. Maybe it appeals because I often feel so lonely out here in the desolate Sicilian tap landscape.
Bringing a completely new art form to the place where I live is a huge responsibility and an isolating experience. For my town, I am the knowledge about this art form and I feel that cultural weight. I am trying to do the dance and its history justice, and that, my friends, is a massive responsibility.
Cultural understanding is something I know more than a little about, having swapped my own culture for that of Italy, and not being American I am learning a whole lot about American history and the role it plays in the development of tap. What I am sure of though, is that I will not give up. My passion for the dance is why I started this site. I wanted to give my dancers a place where they could come and find more detailed information on the history of tap in their own language. It is a huge undertaking, a massive responsibility and a time-consuming venture, but for me it is worth it, because to represent tap here I want to do it properly, equipping my students with the correct history, the correct technique and the unbridled passion I myself have found in the dance.
Although I often feel like a foreign entity in the game I have found that there is an embarrassingly large amount of resources available to me that help me feel part of the community. Just today I have: listened to a podcast, watched a YouTube interview, read an online article and consumed several chapters of Rusty’s book. So, while I am not the world’s greatest tap dancer I am trying my best, and neither you, nor I can ask any more of me than that. O, but to live it, really live it for just one day, what a dream that would be. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next best thing and start counting down the days to when I’m back in New York City doing the modern day equivalent of sidewalk challenging and step-stealing —spending time learning from some of today’s greats at intensives. I have an exciting summer of tap lined up and my feet are just itching to get in my shoes again…
…just as soon as the physio lets me!