HISTORY OF TAP
Enslaved Afrikans were continually strategizing to gain their freedom. Secretly learning to read
and write. Hiding in walls for years. The Underground Tunnel. In fact, Afrikan drum rhythms were used to send messages in code over long distances.
When it was discovered that enslaved Africans were using their drums to plan revolts & escapes, the drums were taken away. And that couldn’t stop my Ancestors either. When they
could no longer use their hands to communicate, they transferred the conversation to their feet; tapping out rhythms of revolution.
One of the definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, lists the phrase “tap dance” as “an action or discourse intended to rationalize or distract”. Hmmm...maybe it’s not a coincidence that one of the most famous dances in tap dance is called the “shim sham”?
You think maybe there’s a message in there somewhere?
Chug. Brush. Shuffle. Tap.
Juba. Jazz. Soft-shoe. Buck and Wing.
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Bunny Brigs. Cholly Atkins. Sandman Sims.
Why/how/when did my Ancestors’ secret tap messaging system become a dance?
Maybe, like capoeira, enslaved Afrikans learned to disguise their foot movements, patterns and rhythms as dance to keep the tap language clandestine. Or maybe my freed Ancestors chose to preserve the language of tap as a form of dance in homage to their own resilience, resistance and determination.
Truth is…like much of Afrikan American history, we may never know the full story of the history of tap and tap dance. But what we do know is that tap dance is truly an Afrikan American art form, and one that I am SO VERY PROUD to honor and preserve! ✨✊🏿✨
DANCE IS LIFE
Dance is Life
It is the breath that feeds a dancer’s soul
It is the fire that fuels a dancer’s passion
We dance like water
We dance like birds
We dance like trees
We. Dance. Life.
Dance is Joy
A Joy Immeasurable