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Tap dance

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Tap dance was born in the 19th century. It is most developed in the United States but is popular all around the world.

The grandparents may well have been

  1. Spanish flamenco, where nails are hammered into the front part of the dancers' shoes so that the rhythm of their steps can be heard
  2. Clog dancing[?], for example from Lancashire, where there may well be no accompanying music, just the noise of the shoes
  3. African welly boot dance.
  4. African dance to drum rhythms.

Tap is a terrific art form where the performer is both dancer and musician.


Tap dance probably began in the mid 1800s (1850? to 1870?) in New York City as a fusion of African, Irish, Scottish, and English step dances. Dancers from different immigrant groups would get together and compete and show off their best moves. As the dances fused, a new American style emerged.

Tap flourished in the U.S. from 1900 to 1955, when it was the main performance dance of Vaudeville and Broadway. Vaudeville was the inexpensive entertainment before television and it employed droves of skilled tap dancers. Many big bands employed tap dances as part of their show. Every city in the U.S. had amateur street tap performers. At the time, tap dance was also called jazz dance, because jazz was the music that tap dancers performed with.

In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the best tap dancers moved from Vaudeville to the movies and television.

In the 1950s, the style of entertainment changed. Jazz music and tap dance declined, while rock and roll music and the new jazz dance emerged. What is now called jazz dance evolved out of tap dance, so many of the moves are the same. But, jazz evolved to become a new form.

Famous Tap Dancers

See also

Dance - Jazz dance

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