Happy National Tap Dance Day, friends! We're marking the occasion by catching up with one of our favorite talented young tappers: Larry Saperstein. The "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" star began taking tap classes at 12 years old, studying at the American Tap Dance Foundation, where he quickly discovered his love for the art. These days, he's putting his skills to good use as Big Red on "HSMTMTS." (Who could forget that iconic moment at the end of season one where he broke out into a tap routine that shook us all!)
We chatted with Larry about why he loves tap so much, and why the art form needs more and better representation in the dance world (and the world world).
What made you fall in love with tap?
The amazing thing about tap dance is that it's musical in and of itself! There are a lot of tap dancers who consider themselves percussionists, and rightfully so. I'm also really into jazz music—when I tap, it's all heavily rooted in jazz music. So I loved that I was able to have a "conversation" with a live jazz band, or even with a pre-recorded improv track. There's so much creativity involved.
Why do you think tap needs more visibility, both inside and outside the dance world?
It's easy to misunderstand tap dance because of the superficial way it's sometimes used in TV shows, movies, and even on Broadway. But really great tap is more rooted in musicianship and craft. Being able to share my style of tapping with a global audience has just been an incredible gift.
What was the whole "HSMTMTS" experience like?
The greatest! One of the amazing things about the show is that our creator, Tim Federle, really zoomed in on everybody's individual talents. We filmed the tap routine on the very last day of shooting season one, and it was probably around 11:30 at night when we started filming. Everybody from the cast was there, waiting in the bleachers off camera, being so supportive. It was just a magical experience.
How are you planning to celebrate National Tap Dance Day in quarantine?
I've actually been doing live tap dance classes on my YouTube channel—I'm calling them "quaran-tap"—so I'm planning to do one of those during the week. It's been really hard for people to continue dancing during this time, but we need to keep pursuing our art form, even when things aren't going so well.
What advice do you have for young dancers who're new to tap?
Try it! Buy yourself a pair of tap shoes and go to that beginner-level class. There's not a teacher in the world who wouldn't be excited to have someone who's passionate and wants to dance in their class.