Kate's Note: Tap Utopia

One of the inspiring things about the tap community is that if you’re passionate about tap dance, its members will welcome you. It doesn’t matter who you are: If you’ve got something to say with your feet, they’ll listen.


Go to any tap festival and you may see a 90-year-old African American man onstage with a 20-year-old white college student, laughing and riffing with each other. You may see an unassuming group of teens—all different heights, all different body types, all different essences— jamming together, creating rhythms and music, and looking (and sounding) cooler than they’ll ever know. And as for the grand finale—the Shim Sham (p. 56)—all bets are off. Everyone’s invited up to share in the fun, even dance editors who can follow along!


But what happens when you love tapping so much that you want to make it your career? While professional ballet dancers can join a company right out of high school and stay there for 25 years (with health benefits and a sense of security), tap dancers often have to make their own opportunities. In fact, many successful rhythm tappers these days are bona fide entrepreneurs.


In this issue of Dance Spirit, we’re looking at what it takes to go pro in the tap world. We’ve gathered advice and tips from successful hoofers and Broadway-style rhythm makers about how to make a living as a tapper in “Tapportunities,” p. 50.


Plus, DS profiles one fresh-faced tapper who’s creating quite a buzz: cover girl Elizabeth Burke (“Listen Up!” p. 46). In 2008, Michelle Dorrance (one of the tap community’s brightest stars) sent me an e-mail about the young tapper. Here’s what it said: “Elizabeth is incredibly musically sophisticated and technically sharp—so clean—and such a natural onstage, not to mention a natural doing anyone’s choreography (as is illustrated when seasoned professionals ask her to be part of a cast with dancers twice her age).” How’s that for an endorsement?!


After you rip out Elizabeth’s pictures to hang inside your locker at school, there’s so much more for you to love! “Black Swan: Behind the Scenes,” p. 24, takes you to the set of the movie Black Swan, and “Every Dancer’s Holiday Wish List,” p. 38, shows you the hottest gifts (to give and receive) of the year. Plus, 28 Future Stars are pictured starting on p. 64—and that’s just the beginning.


So snuggle up in your slippers, take a load off those feet and dive in. Oh, and last but definitely not least, to all of Dance Spirit’s faithful readers:

Happy Holidays!


Love all of us at Dance Spirit,

Kate Lydon


Photo by MSG Entertainment.

Latest Posts

Because you know you've always wondered... (Getty Images)

Sounding Off: Here's What Your Favorite Musicians Think of Dance Routines Set to Their Songs

In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Jordan Fisher (center) in a dance scene from Work It (Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Netflix)

Here's Why Jordan Fisher Thinks You Should Be Excited for Netflix's New Dance Film, "Work It"

If you're looking for a sign that 2020 might *just* be turning around, look no further than Netflix's new dance-centric film Work It. The movie comes out this Friday, August 7, and the hype is real. ICYMI, the film follows high school senior Quinn Ackerman, played by none other than Sabrina Carpenter, as she attempts to lead her dance team to a competition win in order to bolster her chances of being admitted to the college of her dreams. One small challenge: Quinn isn't a dancer.

Enter Jordan Fisher as Jake Taylor, a talented-but-troubled choreographer and dancer, to help Quinn lead the team. We had the chance to speak with Fisher about his experience on set, and why Work It just might be the dance movie we've all been waiting for.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Including this incredibly powerful piece by Travis Wall for "So You Think You Can Dance" (Adam Rose/FOX)

Here Are the 2020 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Choreography

Our favorite season? Awards season, of course! Congratulations to the six choreographers who received Emmy nominations for their fabulous television work. This year, the Emmys thought outside the usual "So You Think You Can Dance" and "World of Dance" box, and we're delighted to see some of our fave choreographers getting recognition.

Here are all the works up for Emmys this year:

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search