Constance Valis Hill, author of Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History (Oxford University Press 2010), is joined by tappers Dianne Walker and Derick K. Grant to discuss the rooted history and the cutting edge future of tap dance in America. Moderated by Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Maura Keefe.
EXCERPT from PillowTalk: Tap Dancing in America recorded July 1, 2010.
PillowTalks feature world-renowned choreographers, dancers, authors, filmmakers, historians, and critics in live hour-long moderated discussions of the cultural forces shaping the field of dance. Curated by Jacob’s Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen and moderated by Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence, PillowTalks use dance as a prism to explore the world at large.
Original company member and Dance Captain of the Broadway production Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk, Derick K. Grant has worked as performer, choreographer, and director for over three decades. He has been honored with the Princess Grace Award for Upcoming Young Artist, The Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Featured Actor, two Los Angeles Ovation Awards for choreography and ensemble performance, and a best choreography award for his critically acclaimed Imagine Tap! Most recently, he was appointed Co-Artistic Director of Chicago Human Rhythm Project's Rhythm World Summer Festival. Mr. Grant continues to teach worldwide, including at Steps On Broadway in New York City.
Constance Valis Hill
Scholar of performance studies, Constance Valis Hill, is the author of Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History (Oxford University Press 2010) and Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers (2000). Her writings have appeared in Dance Magazine, Village Voice, Dance Research Journal, Studies in Dance History, and Discourses in Dance; and in Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African-American Dance (2001), Taken By Surprise: Dance Improvisation Reader (2003), Kaiso! Writings by and about Katherine Dunham (2005), and Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy, Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader (2008). She has been awarded the Deems Taylor ASCAP Award as well as grants from the John D. Rockefeller and John Simon Guggenheim Foundations. She has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University and is a Five College Professor of Dance at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Artistic Director of TapDancin' Inc., Dianne Walker, was a performer in the Tony Award-winning Black and Blue, during which she had the
prestigious honor of being the only female in its famed Hoofers Line. Her film credits include the movie Tap and PBS Great Performances: Tap Dance in America. A pioneer in the resurgence of tap dancing, she is recipient of the Living Treasure in American Dance Award from Oklahoma City University, the Tapestry Award for teaching excellence, and the United States Artists Rose Fellow for 2008. Walker is a featured soloist at clubs and festivals world-wide.
Style of American theatrical dance using precise rhythmical patterns of foot movement and audible foot tapping. It is derived from the traditional clog dance of northern England, the jigs and reels of Ireland and Scotland, and the rhythmic foot stamping of African dances. Popular in 19th-century minstrel shows, versions such as buck-and-wing (danced vigorously in wooden-soled shoes) and soft-shoe (danced smoothly in soft-soled shoes) developed as separate techniques; by 1925 they had merged, and metal taps were attached to shoe heels and toes to produce a more pronounced sound. The dance was also popular in variety shows and early musicals.