Ziggedy bop! Tap dance is back on its feet | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Ziggedy bop! Tap dance is back on its feet

It's been a mainstay of stage and screen; now after years in revival, a truly American art form returns full force, with energy and innovation

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Tap dancing, a truly American art form, is once again rat-a-tatting into the nation's consciousness, in all its variations — from Fred Astaire grace to hip-hop antics. Savion Glover, the star and choreographer of Broadway's award-winning Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, is the latest messiah of a form that's loose-limbed, individual and inspired by the syncopated beat of urban life.

The origins of tap dance can be traced to the antebellum South when African-American slaves, adept at copying Irish jigs, Virginia reels and Lancashire clogging, improvised and embellished those dances with their own African-style rhythms and movements. Popular on the vaudeville circuit and even more so in 1920s and '30s movies and theater, tap dance entered a long dormancy in the '50s and '60s, partly as a result of the black pride movement.

In the past two decades, a few Broadway shows and movies, devotees, such as Gregory Hines, and dedicated dance teachers have worked hard to revive the art form. Now, with the innovative Bring in 'Da Noise, tap dance is once again making itself heard loud and clear and enjoying a new level of popularity.

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