Watch Tapper Sarah Reich's Latest Collab With Postmodern Jukebox

Sarah Reich. Photo by Jeremy Jackson, Courtesy SILLAR Management

What's one way to drum up interest in tap dancing? Team up with an uber-popular band whose YouTube channel racks up views by the millions, and whose videos are no stranger to Facebook feeds of many non-dancers. That's just what tapper Sarah Reich did for her latest collaboration with Postmodern Jukebox. The band has made a name for itself by covering everything from Beyoncé to Aerosmith to the Star Wars score, so you can imagine how varied their fan-base is.

"Evolution of Tap Dance," loosely riffs off the 2006 YouTube hit "Evolution of Dance," which cataloged mainstream dance moves through the years. While it makes for a catchy name, PMJ's video is more of a history of pop songs from 1899 to present day, set to tap dancing. (We'd like to see an actual evolution of tap in under five minutes. Anyone up for the challenge?) Nonetheless, Reich gives an impeccable performance, morphing her dancing to match each song's genre and era as PMJ cycles through ragtime, big band swing, lounge jazz, funk, EDM and more.

What's most impressive is Reich's versatile musicality. During Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," she matches every note of the piano's quick, jangling tune. At the beginning of the epic, electronic song that is "Sandstorm," the band drops out and Reich becomes the sole music maker. Many times throughout the video, she rides above the music, adding a satisfying layer of complexity to the band's melody or baseline.

If YouTube is what it takes to get tap into more people's homes (or smartphones or laptops), we're all for it. Hopefully, it inspires some to even head to a live dance performance. Reich and Anissa Lee, who have both danced with Syncopated Ladies, are currently part of PMJ's world tour.

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Jason Samuels Smith, photographed by Jayme Thornton

Moving Forward by Looking Back: A Week at the L.A. Tap Festival Online

I turned to tap at the outset of the European lockdown as a meaningful escape from the anxiety of the pandemic. As a dance historian specialized in dance film, I've seen my fair share of tap on screen, but my own training remains elementary. While sheltering in place, my old hardwood floors beckoned. I wanted to dig deeper in order to better understand tap's origins and how the art form has evolved today. Not so easy to accomplish in France, especially from home.

Enter the L.A. Tap Fest's first online edition.

Alongside 100 other viewers peering out from our respective Zoom windows, I watch a performer tap out rhythms on a board in their living room. Advanced audio settings allow us to hear their feet. In the chat box, valuable resources are being shared and it's common to see questions like, "Can you post the link to that vaudeville book you mentioned?" Greetings and words of gratitude are also exchanged as participants trickle in and out from various times zones across the US and around the world.

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