Since the day I started, I realized that my tap dancing is inseparable from every other aspect of my being. Practicing my art has always been helping me gain insight into different layers of my life, and contemplations about life are pushing my artistry forward.
Because art in general is just an extension of the human experience. Different arts may use different tools (technique), but ultimately everything is just a medium that helps to convey the expression we are looking for. I am only using the framework of tap dancing because this is the language I am most familiar with. But the essence of what I'm talking about can hopefully be applied to anything.
Thus, I am hoping that with this blog I'm not only reaching out to tap dancers, but to anyone. No matter if you're a dancer, musician, visual artist, actor, philosopher, or no artist at all – the one thing that we all share is that we are humans.
This blog is about tap dance. About music. About being an artist. About the mind, the body, and the spirit. About growth. Integrity. Truth.
About finding your sweet spot in humanity.
We are living in interesting times. The recent political happenings – names
do not have to be named – are causing everyone to think about society's
current situation. Even I as someone who is not particularly inclined to
letting politics affect their life, have never spoken as much about politics as
in these days. Issues like these can feel overwhelming and numbing, and
leave many of us wondering what we can do, and how we can actively
create a healthy present and future.
As an artist, my contemplations are particularly circling around the question what role the arts play in this context. There has to be a point in our daily grind as artists that goes beyond making ourselves (and potentially other people) happy. More than ever I am realizing how much power and responsibility art(ists) can have in influencing our collective existence on this planet.
They are everywhere. Fancy pullback combinations, 5 count wings, triple over the toes, toe stands. I don't know a single tap dancer today (including myself) who has never had any aspiration to do these things. And it's not surprising, since trick steps are not only displaying a great amount of body control, but also catch everyone's eye. I remember after accomplishing my very first pullback I felt like “Now I'm an advanced tap dancer!”
There are already many articles around that discuss the relationship between dance and music, and I have to say I really enjoyed reading up on this topic. In this month's article, I would first like to present some of the discoveries that have previously been made by others. Then I would like to share my own contemplations about it, giving examples and illustrations from the world of tap dance, in order to ultimately apply it to all art forms existing.
Whenever somebody asks me the typical question “What kinds of music do people tap dance to?”, I say “Usually jazz, but also funk, hip hop, soul, maybe even classical music. Basically you can tap to anything!” And this answer implies everything and nothing at the same time. Which made me think about something. Ballet dancers are associated with classical music, Indian dancers with classical Indian music, hip hop dancers with hip hop music. But tap dancers? The picture is kind of blurry. Of course we all know that the roots of tap dance lie in the jazz tradition. Tap dance and jazz are like siblings, closely interrelated. But today you can hear tap dancers utilizing all kinds of music.
Are these people still jazz tap dancers in the very sense of this term? Moreover, is a tap dancer automatically a jazz musician? And what is jazz even?