During the first half of the 20th Century, many British dance performers were both Tap dancers and Step or Clog dancers.
Step dancer Simon Ramsey-Harmer takes us on a trip into the Instep Research Team archives to share images and footage of famous dancers such as Sam Sherry. Their repertoire gives us an insight into the way that steps and styles of percussive dance developed in the UK during this period.
Simon Harmer is a dancer, teacher and choreographer well known in the folk dance world. He has learnt from some of the most renowned English step dancers. He is a Trustee of the Instep Research Team, a charity whose focus is clog and step dancing. Whilst an enthusiastic researcher into the background of these dance forms he is also interested in collaborating with dancers from other genres and creating new material.
In this session we hear from Brian Harker, author of ‘Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic’ about his research into the life and legacy of tap dance master John W. Bubbles.
Brian Harker will introduce Bubbles as a pioneering tap dancer and major figure in the American performing arts and discuss his experience of writing Bubbles’s first biography. In the course of his remarks he will show photos and videos of Bubbles in various performing contexts.
Jane Goldberg, who knew Bubbles towards the end of his life, will join the conversation to share stories of her time spent with this extraordinary, talented and hugely influential man.
Synopsis of ‘Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic’ by Brian Harker
John W. Bubbles was the ultimate song-and-dance man. A groundbreaking tap dancer, he provided inspiration to Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, and the Nicholas Brothers. His vaudeville team Buck and Bubbles captivated theater audiences for more than thirty years. Most memorably, in the role of Sportin’ Life he stole the show in the original production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, in the process crafting a devilish alter ego that would follow him through life. Coming of age with the great jazz musicians, he shared countless stages with the likes of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and Ella Fitzgerald. Some of his disciples believed his rhythmic ideas had a formative impact on jazz itself. In later years he made a comeback as a TV personality, revving up the talk shows of Steve Allen and Johnny Carson and playing comic foil to Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and Lucille Ball. Finally, after a massive stroke ended his dancing career, he made a second comeback―complete with acclaimed performances from his wheelchair―as a living legend inspiring a new generation of entertainers. His biggest obstacle was the same one blocking the path of every other Black performer of his time: unrelenting, institutionalized racism. Yet Bubbles was an entertainer of the old school, fierce and indestructible. In this compelling and deeply researched biography, his dramatic story is told for the first time.
About Brian Harker
Brian Harker is Professor of Music at Brigham Young University. Two-time winner of the Irving Lowens Award for best article on American music, he is the author of Sportin’ Life: John W. Bubbles, An American Classic; Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings; and Jazz: An American Journey. He lives with his wife in Orem, Utah.
Jane Goldberg is a comedian, writer, tap dancer and key architect of the tap renaissance of the 1970s. She is the founder of the Changing Times Tap Dance Company and the author of the book “Shoot Me While I’m Happy,” with foreword by the late Gregory Hines. Her extensive tap archives now reside at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and are open to the public. Her main act is Rhythm & Schmooze, and she has a Traveling Tap Museum.
Susan Filipiak will lead discussion around tap dance notation methods, uses and opportunities before we open the floor for group discussion.
Tap dancers all have their most favorite, comfortable learning strategy – be it visual, aural, spatial, verbal, musical, kinesthetic. To reach all their students, and especially beginners of all ages, tap teachers need to utilize all learning modes.
Susan Filipiak will lead discussion in using the spoken and written mode. Looking at tap dance notation systems (Stanley Kahn, Joan Hill, and her own “Tap Alphabet” she designed for children), Susan will show the strengths of including a linguistic approach to teaching tap dance.
Susan Filipiak, Dexter, Michigan, US, recently retired after 40 years of teaching dance. She was happy to learn from the master/mentors and was proud to carry forth their history, choreography, and lessons. Susan spent equal time teaching in her studio, in higher education, and in regular K-12 classrooms (bringing dance into the classroom).
As well as sharing ideas, techniques and resources, we will open the floor for you to have group conversations, ask questions and share your own approaches.
Tap Dance Research Network UK present a programme of events that brings together tap dance performers, artists, scholars and researchers throughout the UK and North America.
Whether you tap dance or not, or are simply tap-curious, TDRN UK welcomes everyone to join us as we delve into the richness and diversity of research and creative practices in tap dance today.
The Research Festival celebrates the practical research of these diverse individuals by sharing embodied knowledges through practical workshops, presentations, and group discussions. We are also hosting a live music tap jam closing party. We welcome dance scholar Thomas DeFrantz, world renowned Canadian tap artists Travis Knights and Lisa La Touche, and connect with some of the UK’s leading tap and percussive dance artists and growing research community.
If you are looking to hit the boards with your shoes, there are practical sessions suited to all levels of experience and you can take part in the closing party tap jam where tap dancers jam with live music.
‘Imagining The Perfect Ecosystem For Tap Dance’ A Discussion with Travis Knights and Lisa LaTouche
In this virtual discussion, LaTouche and Knights will dive into their personal experiences as well as researched historical events to analyze and determine the keys to environments that make tap dance thrive.
‘Foot Percussion Discussion’ with Hannah James, Simeon Weedall, Rosamaria E. Kostic Cisneros
This online panel will discuss the individual practices of dancers from tap, clog, and flamenco dance. These practitioners will discuss approaches to working with rhythm, live music, and evolving performance practices.
Thomas DeFrantz ‘The history of the relationship between rhythm tap dance and the concert stage – an introduction’
Renowned dance scholar Thomas DeFrantz shares his research and thoughts around tap dance and the concert stage with a focus upon historical context. Followed by an open discussion.
Sun 10th April
11:00 – 18:00 – In-person event @ De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
19:30 – 21:30 Tap Jam Closing Party, Leicester, UK
Tap dance artists and researchers share insights from their practice and artistic research.
Tap dance workshops for all levels.
Film screening and talk about Jack Evan’s film Date Leap with Lee Payne.
Panel discussion: ‘Learning and growing through tap dance’ with Lexi Bradburn (Sole Rebel Tap), Harriet Spence (Theatre Tap London) and Lee Payne (Bruckfeet Productions). Chaired by dance educators and researchers from TDRN UK, Dr Trish Melton and Dr. Karen Wood. The panel will discuss their current approaches to tap dance teaching – including strategies, class content and embedding tap dance history and culture.
Routes into research – a practical introduction to developing your own research project idea. Ask questions, make connections and learn about opportunities and how to access them.
Open space discussions – Tap Dance Futures.
Closing party live music tap jam with Tap Rhythm Project hosted by Ademola Junior Laniyan.
* Online day ticket (for Tues the 5th or Thurs 7th April) £10/ £8.50 concessions (includes access to a recording)
* In-person day ticket for Sun 10th April £60/ £50 concessions
* Whole festival ticket for all online events and in-person day £70/ £60 concessions (includes access to a recording of online events)
* Pay what you can option for all events – please contact email@example.com for details
As a non-profit organisation, TDRN UK are not able to absorb booking costs into ticket prices which will be additional to those listed above.
Delivered in partnership with C-DaRE Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University and CIRID Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Dance at De Montfort University.
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Who were the Whitman Sisters? Join us to learn how the Whitman Sisters were trailblazers, performers, producers, and businesswomen as they brought innovative tap dance to Black Vaudeville. Dr. Karen Campbell Kuebler presents her findings from the media of the time, sharing the fascinating life stories that highlight the links between then and now. As an experienced educator, Karen offers ideas and resources to broaden your approach to teaching tap dance history considering issues such as race and gender in performance.
Karen Campbell Kuebler is always moving and learning. As an undergraduate dance major in the 1980s, Kuebler realized her knowledge in dance history was severely lacking. This initiated a career-long research initiative to explore, connect, and apply dance history in her teaching and learning process. Kuebler began teaching Dance and French in Baltimore County in 1991. Since 2009, Kuebler has taught Dance History courses at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland and presented her research at conferences near and far since the 1990s. Kuebler shares her passion for dance history with her elementary students, colleagues, university students, family, and friends. She is excited to share the HERstory of the Whitman Women in her first textbook and looks forward to more revelations in dance history research.