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.
Lisa La Touche's 2017 choreogaphy with Felipe Galganni, Megan Bartula, Gabe Winns, Brittany DeStefano, Lisa La Touche, Charles Renato, Oriana Niño & Grace Cannady, PC Amanda Gentile
Every summer Tap City gives New Yorkers a week of classes, events and awards culminating in "Rhythm in Motion." This year the showcase, on July 11, has gathered star tappers—and not only tappers—in a mix of tradition and innovation.
Chloe Arnold's new group Apartment 33 (her previous group, Syncopated Ladies, went viral) as well as Caleb Teicher (a 2012 "25 to Watch") will be part of the mix. Lisa La Touche has choreographed a trio, and the fearless B-girl from the Bronx, Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, is choreographing for a quartet of break dancers. Leo Sandoval, the smoothest tapper from Brazil, is making a new piece to music by Steve Reich.
Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Jason Samuels Smith and Derick K. Grant take the floor during our cover shoot.
In 1989, Congress passed a resolution naming May 25—the birthday of tap legend Bill "Bojangles" Robinson—as National Tap Dance Day, and it has been celebrated annually on that date ever since. For years, the May issue of Dance Magazine featured a tap dancer on its cover to coincide with the holiday and highlight the form.
But some considered the gesture to be mere tokenism. "It feels like a handout," says tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith. "Our art form deserves more than that."
Tune is still at home onstage. Photo by Franco Lacosta, courtesy Tune.
Tommy Tune is a man of many talents. The 10-time Tony Award–winning director, choreographer and star is famous for shows like Nine, My One and Only, The Will Roger's Follies and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Tune is in a special class of gifted director/choreographers that includes George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Michael Bennett—yet he also danced and starred in his musicals.
Today, he is touring the country with his nightclub act Tommy Tune Tonight. At 79, he is still lithe, graceful and willowy, and looks right at home onstage.
So what's it like to be backstage with the legend? Tune recently invited Dance Magazine behind the scenes for a rehearsal and performance in Los Angeles.