A Peek at Hill’s “The Missing Scholarship of American Tap Dance”

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We recently published Dances and Dance Historians: 4 Clear Cut Ways to Help You Keep Dance Alive on our Dance Culture Editorial suggesting ways one can go about archiving dance and why it is so important. The piece briefly explores ways to archive dance as well as the importance of archiving dance in order to preserve culture, history and dance steps leaving something behind for others to reconstruct the past. Without archives in dance or very little archives on a particular dance genre — as is the case with tap dance choreography which we’ve seen less of in theatrical works over the past couple decades — the art form, steps or works lack in preservation and therefore lack in reproduction and reconstruction.

The Missing Scholarship of American Tap Dance by Constance Valis Hill published on Oxford University Press’s Academic blog, argues that the lack of scholarship on Tap Dance — therefore, the lack of preservation — is due to tap dancing’s long and contested legacy of both racism and classism and their intersectionality. I suggest without confronting these perplexities in the context of this once craved dance craze, the essence of the genre itself is misunderstood. Below is an excerpt from Hill’s piece:

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You can further read Hill’s article here.

You can also check out a clip of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Shirley Temple Black below in what is known as the “first interracial couple to dance on screen” in the 1935 film, “Little Colonel”.

Listen to NPR’s take on tap dance and the intersectionality of race and class and hear Shirley Temple Black talk about the way Bill “Bojangles” Robinson taught her to dance in “Shirley Temple and Bojangles: Two Stars, One Life Long Friendship”.

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About Yauri Dalencour

Yauri is a professional dancer, dance archivist and educator. She has run an arts education consultancy she founded almost ten years ago and is now head of product and brand ambassador at Dancetime Publications. Yauri’s forte as a dance journalist is writing short insightful and reflective posts as well as featured articles featuring guests and experts.

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