Discover the origins and cultural significance of National Tap Dance Day, a celebration dedicated to honoring the art form of tap dancing. Learn about its historical roots, influential figures, and the reasons why we love and celebrate this vibrant dance style.
National Tap Dance Day is an observance celebrated on May 25th each year in the United States. It was established to honor and promote the art form of tap dancing, which is a style of dance characterized by rhythmic footwork and percussive sounds created by metal plates or taps on the soles of the dancer’s shoes.
National Tap Dance Day was designated by the U.S. Congress in 1989, following a joint resolution introduced by Representative John Conyers and supported by prominent tap dancer and choreographer, Charles “Honi” Coles. The day was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, an influential African American tap dancer who achieved great success in the early 20th century and made significant contributions to the popularization of tap dancing.
The purpose of National Tap Dance Day is to raise awareness about tap dancing as an art form, celebrate its cultural significance and historical contributions, and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the joy of tap dancing. It is often marked by various activities such as performances, workshops, dance classes, festivals, and community events that showcase and promote the art of tap dancing.
History of National Tap Dance Day
The history of National Tap Dance Day dates back to the efforts of two individuals: Charles “Honi” Coles and Representative John Conyers.
In the early 1980s, Charles “Honi” Coles, a renowned tap dancer and choreographer, began advocating for the establishment of a day dedicated to celebrating tap dancing. Coles believed that tap dancing deserved recognition as a unique American art form and wanted to promote its cultural significance.
In 1988, Coles shared his idea with Representative John Conyers, who was a long-time supporter of the arts and culture. Impressed by Coles’ passion and recognizing the importance of preserving and promoting tap dancing, Conyers took action.
On November 7, 1989, Representative Conyers introduced a joint resolution in the United States Congress to designate May 25th as National Tap Dance Day. The chosen date coincided with the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, one of the most influential and celebrated tap dancers in history.
The joint resolution received widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans, as well as from various tap dance organizations and artists across the country. On November 8, 1989, the resolution passed in the House of Representatives, and on February 7, 1990, it was passed by the Senate. President George H.W. Bush then signed it into law, officially establishing National Tap Dance Day.
Since its inception, National Tap Dance Day has been celebrated annually on May 25th. It has become an occasion for tap dancers, dance enthusiasts, and communities to honor the art form, raise awareness about its rich history and contributions, and inspire new generations to embrace the joy of tap dancing. The day is marked by various events, performances, workshops, and educational activities that highlight the beauty and cultural significance of tap dancing.
How to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day
There are several ways you can celebrate National Tap Dance Day. Here are some ideas:
- Attend a Tap Dance Performance: Look for local dance studios, theaters, or performing arts centers that may have special tap dance performances scheduled for National Tap Dance Day. Enjoy the artistry and skill of talented tap dancers.
- Take a Tap Dance Class: If you’ve always been intrigued by tap dancing, use National Tap Dance Day as an opportunity to try it out. Sign up for a beginner’s tap dance class at a local dance studio or community center. It’s a fun and engaging way to celebrate the day while learning a new skill.
- Organize a Community Event: Consider organizing a community event to celebrate National Tap Dance Day. It could be a tap dance showcase, a flash mob, or a workshop where experienced tap dancers share their knowledge with others. Engage local dance groups, schools, and community organizations to participate and spread awareness about the art form.
- Share Tap Dance Videos: Utilize social media platforms to share videos of inspiring tap dance performances, tutorials, or historical clips. You can highlight influential tap dancers, showcase your own tap dancing skills, or encourage others to join in the celebration by sharing their own videos using specific hashtags.
- Watch Tap Dance Films or Documentaries: Gather some friends or family and enjoy watching tap dance-themed films or documentaries. Some popular options include “Tap” (1989), “The Cotton Club” (1984), “Bojangles” (2001), or “No Maps on My Taps” (1979). These films provide insight into the history and evolution of tap dancing.
- Support Local Tap Dance Artists: Show your support for local tap dance artists by attending their performances, sharing their work on social media, or contributing to their crowdfunding campaigns. Consider purchasing tickets to their shows or donating to tap dance-related organizations or initiatives.
- Learn About Tap Dance History: Take some time to learn about the history and influential figures in tap dancing. Read books, watch documentaries, or explore online resources that delve into the origins, development, and impact of tap dancing. Understanding the roots of tap dance can deepen your appreciation for the art form.
Remember, the key is to celebrate and honor tap dancing in a way that resonates with you. Whether you participate in events, learn to tap dance, or simply share your enthusiasm for the art form, your involvement will contribute to the recognition and preservation of tap dancing on National Tap Dance Day.
Why We Love and Celebrate National Tap Dance Day
We love and celebrate National Tap Dance Day for several reasons:
- Cultural Significance: Tap dancing is deeply rooted in American history and culture. It emerged as a unique art form, blending African and European dance traditions, and became an integral part of American music and entertainment. By celebrating National Tap Dance Day, we recognize and honor the cultural significance of tap dancing in shaping American performing arts.
- Artistic Expression: Tap dancing is a captivating and expressive art form. The intricate footwork, rhythmic patterns, and percussive sounds created by the taps on the dancers’ shoes make it a visually and audibly engaging experience. We celebrate National Tap Dance Day to appreciate the artistry, creativity, and talent of tap dancers who bring this form of expression to life.
- Historical Legacy: National Tap Dance Day allows us to pay tribute to the influential figures in tap dancing who paved the way for its popularity and development. Icons like Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly not only contributed to the art form but also broke down racial and societal barriers through their performances. By celebrating National Tap Dance Day, we ensure that their legacy and contributions are remembered and cherished.
- Community and Togetherness: Tap dancing has a way of bringing people together. It fosters a sense of camaraderie and community among dancers and enthusiasts. National Tap Dance Day provides an opportunity to connect with others who share a passion for tap dancing, whether through attending performances, participating in workshops, or engaging in online discussions. It creates a sense of belonging and unity among tap dance lovers.
- Joy and Celebration: Tap dancing is fun, energetic, and uplifting. It brings joy to both performers and audiences alike. National Tap Dance Day is a chance to celebrate the pure enjoyment and happiness that tap dancing brings. It’s a day to let loose, appreciate the rhythm, and immerse ourselves in the infectious spirit of tap dance.
- Education and Awareness: National Tap Dance Day serves as an educational platform to raise awareness about the history, techniques, and diversity within tap dancing. It provides an opportunity to learn about different styles of tap dance, explore its cultural roots, and understand its influence on other dance forms. By celebrating the day, we can encourage more people to discover and appreciate the art of tap dancing.
In summary, we love and celebrate National Tap Dance Day because it allows us to honor the cultural significance, artistic expression, historical legacy, and joyous spirit of tap dancing. It brings together communities, promotes education and awareness, and ensures that this vibrant art form continues to be cherished and celebrated for generations to come.