Thursday, March 8, 2018

Music: Part 3

I remember hearing Brenda Bufalino once say that tap dancers should know a lot of tunes and also know the lyrics to those tunes, the knowledge of which would inform their dance. Tap dancers are inspired musically in many different ways, depending on their culture, influences, individual tastes, and any number of other reasons. There are some standard tunes that traditionally have been used by tap dancers and there are some tunes that have been closely associated with some dancers. Following are just a few examples of music and tap. In the comments section below, or on social media, let me know what tunes you like to use!

"Liza" is a tune that was written by George Gershwin. I've heard it used mostly with a short tap routine called "The BS Chorus", that was often done by The Copasetics. Here is a version of the tune performed by Jimmie Noone and his Orchestra. Click here to see Chuck Green and Ralph Brown dance to this recording. Click here to see The Copasetics do the BS Chorus.

Another vintage standard is "Bye, Bye Blues" by Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown, and Chauncey Gray. Tap dancers would use it in stop time. Here is a fun rendition of the tune by a group called Blazin' Banjos. At about 2:39 in, they go stop time and you can see how easily tap could work with the whole tune done that way!

Here's another use of stop time on a tune, which became associated with a tap dancer. The dancer was Peg Leg Bates and the tune is "Sleep" by Fred Waring. This is a 1928 recording of Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians doing it "normally." Click here to see Peg Leg use it in a whole other way!

There are some artists whose music tap dancers find easy to work with. Two such artists are Count Basie and Oscar Peterson. They are liked because when they play, space can be left in the music for dance. In a class I once took with Dianne Walker, she used the tune, "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)", played by Basie and Peterson. I wound up using it a lot when I taught. Imagine how you'd move to this...

I believe, if you really pay close attention and listen, you can tap to any kind of music. If you've never seen Leon Collins dance to Nikolai Rimski-Korsakow's, "The Flight of the Bumblebee", you will now be in for a treat. The music also segues into "Begin The Beguine" by Cole Porter.

I have an appreciation of many genres of music but, as a Baby Boomer, there is just some stuff from Motown that hits me in a special way. I had a idea to do a tap piece to a Stevie Wonder tune I love and got a chance to do it at the 4th Annual NJ Tap Festival in 2013. 

So, go find "your" music and dance!!!!