Wednesday, May 25, 2011

National Tap Dance Day

National Tap Dance Day

Famous tap dancers
Today is National Tap Dance Day, celebrating an American art form that extended over the last century, from Bill "Bojangles" Robinson to the Irish heritage of Michael Flatley. The day was created in 1989 , the same year many of America's tap masters appeared in a cinematic celebration of tap.

Gregory Hines
This Tony Award-winning hoofer helped create a national holiday and starred in the dance movie "Tap" . He helped inspire a new passion for tap dancing through the '80s into the '90s, headlining his own TV series and starring in a Harlem-based classic by acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola.

Ann Miller
As a child, Miller helped support her hearing-impaired mother by dancing in the clubs of '30s Hollywood, which led to her using a fake birth certificate to work for a major Hollywood studio at the age of 14.  Miller appeared with James Stewart in a landmark Frank Capra Film , moving to the stage later in life and starring in such Broadway hits as "Mame" and  "Sugar Babies."

Savion Glover
This modern-day dance legend has a unique name for his style and may be best known for his Tony Award-winning role in a successful off-Broadway musical . Glover, who began tap classes at the age of 7, was the youngest person to receive a full scholarship from the Newark Community School of the Arts and later became the youngest-ever recipient of a prestigious award.

Dianne Walker
This Boston-based lady of dance holds a number of famous nicknames and is considered one of the greatest living tap dancers. She was the only woman in the famous "hoofer line" of a 1989 Broadway musical.

Fred Astaire
This Hollywood legend chose a simpler, more intimate approach to musicals, in contrast to the popular Busby Berkeley style of the time. Astaire was known for being relaxed yet tireless in his pursuit of perfection, writing in his 1959 autobiography, "I have no desire to prove anything ... I just dance."

Ginger Rogers
She danced from vaudeville to Broadway and is best known for her work in the musicals of the '30s with a fellow dancing legend. In 1940 she won a prized award for her dramatic role in a film about the marital choices of a working-class girl.

Gene Kelly
Before starring in what some consider the greatest movie musical ever made and becoming one of the most influential dancers in motion picture history, Kelly toured with his brother Fred in vaudeville and eventually ran a successful dancing school in this industrial town. Watch what could be his most famous musical tap

Shirley Temple
As one of the most famous child actors in history, she appeared in more than 50 films and danced into Americans' hearts with such notable showmen as Buddy Ebsen and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. As an adult, Shirley Temple Black went on to run successfully for Congress and later served as U.S. ambassador to a former communist state and an African nation.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey's sister was a famous actress. His performance in the 1943 film "Cabin in the Sky," may have inspired a future king

Howard 'Sandman' Sims
Using loose sand on a wooden surface, Sims invented his own style and became a regular fixture at a famous Harlem theater. He slipped into obscurity but was rediscovered, and from 1979 to 1990  he appeared in a number of dance films, toured with the U.S. State Department and danced with a comedic pudding pusher on national television

Steve & Nick Condos
He learned to dance on the streets of his hometown and loved to improvise by implementing melody and rhythm in his routines. He and his brother Nick  danced as the Condos Brothers to a then popular genre of music, and were a prized duo for such films as "Wake Up and Live," "In the Navy" and "She's Back on Broadway."

Buck & Bubbles
John Bubbles created a more complex approach to tap dancing, which earned him a parental moniker. He formed a partnership with Ford L. Buck as the duo Buck and Bubbles, who are noted as the first African-American performers to appear  in a world-famous concert hall.

Betty Grable
Starring in such films as "College Swing" and "Down Argentine Way," Betty Grable became the highest-paid star in America . Her pinup poster became a favorite of soldiers during World War II, and her tap-happy legs were insured for a reported $1 million.

Jimmy Slyde
This smooth mover derived his stage name from his trademark moves on the dance floor. He was referred to as "one of the true masters of the art form" by an up-and-coming tap legend.

Rita Hayworth
She was trained by her father to dance  and promoted by her first husband to catch the spotlight of a major Hollywood studio.Her dance work with Fred Astaire  in "You'll Never Get Rich" made her famous

The Clark Brothers
Tap dancing has had all kind of fans, including the American Mafia and the English monarchy. What gangster had these brothers on the payroll? A tongue-tied king hired their services.

Sammy Davis Jr.
The son of a vaudeville star, Davis was often promoted as "the greatest living entertainer in the world." In no particular order he converted to Judaism, moved to Las Vegas and joined one of the century's most iconic gang of entertainers

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