Saturday, October 11, 2014


Tomorrow, October 12th, is the anniversary of Steve Condos' birth.  He would be 96 years old.  I don't know much about him (a nice bio is at American Tap Dance Foundation website), but remember seeing him for the first time at a show called, "Tappin' Uptown" held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1982.  It was a big show with Honi Coles, Peg Leg Bates, Chuck Green and others.  He and his brothers, Nick and Frank, were an act called, the Condos Brothers that performed during the thirties and forties.  They appeared in films (often just Nick and Steve) and in later years, Steve performed as a soloist.  His thing was rhythm and when I saw him perform, his close to the floor rhythm steps were interesting to see.  At first seeing him, I wasn't impressed because to my uneducated eye he didn't seem to be doing that much, until I just paid attention...and listened!  As the ATDF bio states, "Condos insisted that his tap routines be melodious as well as rhythmic."  He kept dancing right up to the end, dying of a heart attack at 71, in a dressing room soon after a performance in Lyon, France in 1990.

One of the current roster of tap dancers who was heavily influenced by him is Marshall Davis, Jr., whom Condos took under his wing when Davis was a young man and you can see in Davis' dance the continuation of what Condos was doing.  Last Sunday, Davis hosted a event at a club in the East Village to celebrate Steve Condos.  It was called, "Turn Up For Tap" and was not a performance but rather a party just to remember the man.  Folks gathered and talked, mingled, and social danced while
Savion Glover handled the DJ job of mixing some music.  I didn't stay for the whole time, so don't know if there was any tap, but enjoyed being there and had some nice conversations, particularly with two of the younger dancers there (well they all were young, compared to me!) about the importance of passing on tap history.  That was sort of the theme that night.  Marshall hosted a bit of a trivia contest about Steve Condos and, while doing that, mentioned names of other veteran performers and he would often say "If you don't know who he/she is, look him/her up or google them."  I agree and often say the same thing, make people do some work to find out history and not be spoon fed.

My mantra seems to be, "I'm living in an interesting time".  While hanging at the party I was looking at some of the tap dancers of now who were there like, Michelle Dorrance, Kazu Kumagai, Keitaro Hosokawa, Lisa La Touche, Khalid Hill and Yuka Kameda.  All of them doing good work, some of who I have worked with and all of whom impress me.  I thought of the tap people I got to know, who influenced me like, Tony White, Charles "Cookie" Cook, James "Buster" Brown, Marion Coles and Harold Cromer, most of who were before these younger artists' time.  I remember seeing a quite young Savion dancing with Gregory Hines 24 years ago at The Village Gate during a tribute to Steve Condos held a few months after his passing.  Sunday's event, for me, was about just being in the spirit of an art form and way of living one's life.  Take the time to appreciate whatever is important to you.

Below are two clips of Steve Condos.  If you want to know and/or see more on him and The Condos Brothers.....look it up!

Also with Steve Condos.

From the documentary, "About Tap"(1985)

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