Sarah Reich has turned her tap shoes into instruments. Photo by Christopher Erk
Perhaps the most precious tradition in tap dance is honoring the elders, reflecting a belief that dancers cannot tap a sound without re-sounding the steps of the masters. This show of gratitude is not nostalgic but regenerative: the practice of realizing the future from the past while making one's own inscription on the tradition.
And so it is with Sarah Reich and the release of her debut album, New Change, a mix of original tunes composed of percussive tap rhythms performed by Reich and an ensemble of jazz musicians. The tunes are dedicated to and named after jazz tap masters—from Harold Cromer, the tap dancer/vaudevillian who was Reich's decade-long mentor, to such notables as Ted Louis Levy, Arthur Duncan, Ivery Wheeler, Jason Samuels Smith, Brenda Bufalino and Dianne "Lady Di" Walker.
What is "new" in New Change is the common-sense idea that tap dance is music—and that it can be composed by tap dancers.
There may be six musicians playing right behind her, but in "Evolution of Tap Dance," aviral video from music group Postmodern Jukebox, tap dancer Sarah Reich is clearly the bandleader. Her transitions are seamless as she guides the band from a sultry, understated rendition of the bossa nova classic "Wave" to a hard-hitting tribute to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk." It's the perfect role for a budding choreographer exploring how tap can become an integral part of popular music.
The 28-year-old not only wants to help earn tap more recognition as percussive music, but also use that music to get more people excited about tap as an art form. "I want to continue to bring tap into mass media with great respect and quality," she says, focusing on "reprogramming the minds of the general public on their perception of tap dance."
Here at Dance Magazine, we're celebrating Star Wars Day—May the 4th—the only way we know how: with some of the quirkiest dance tributes in the galaxy. From tap to ballet to hip hop, no one can resist the force.
The past two weeks have been a magical time on the internet, with dance taking center stage. These three viral moments garnered millions of collective views and brought ballet, tap and hip hop tomany a smartphone screen.
1. Pennsylvania Ballet tackles a rude football fan. No one needs to tell us that ballet is a fierce art. But, unfortunately, that's not always clear to the general public. When a Philadelphia Eagles fan commented online that the team had "played like they were wearing tutus!!!" Pennsylvania Ballet posted a brazen response on its Facebook page. They cited the dancers' grueling Nutcracker run, which didn't include any injury timeouts and in some cases, not even a "second string." They concluded that "no, the Eagles have not played like they were wearing tutus. If they had...we'd all be looking forward to the playoffs." Burn.
Not only did this social media comeback bring ballet to a broader audience, but it's also a savvy PR move for Pennsylvania Ballet.
2. Tap dance takes on the movies. I'll fully admit that I'm a bit of a Star Wars nerd, so when I saw this tap medley set to gems from the saga's score, I geeked out. In honor of the newest installment, The Force Awakens, Sarah Reich teamed up with popular cover band Postmodern Jukebox to make this fun jazzy video. Even if you're not a Star Wars fan, it's a total treat. Bonus points for Reich's gold sequined jumpsuit.
3.One teacher's surprisingly good dance moves. Last but not least, this educator earned major extra credit by joining his students in this video. Ron Clark, a co-founder and math teacher at the Atlanta middle school Ron Clark Academy, got down to "Bet You Can't Do It Like Me" and then posted it on his Facebook. According to Clark's bio on the school's website, he has been named Disney's American Teacher of the Year. Perhaps this goes to show that a curriculum that makes time for dancing isn't a bad thing.
Ron Clark Academy having fun with the #doitlikemechallenge