Tap Dance Masters: Gregory Hines

Gregory Hines is for tap, what Miles Davis is for jazz: a visionary who changed the whole genre through his individual creativity. There may be many similarities and references to the traditional steps and forms. But in terms of musicality and aesthetics, he clearly formed a unique personal style, that inspired all modern tap dancers after him. | weiterlesen… »

Tap Dance Masters: John Bubbles

John Bubbles (John William Sublett was his real name) and his partner Ford “Buck” Washington were a very successful vaudeville team. While Buck was more the pianist and singer, Bubbles was considered one of the best tap dancers of his era. He is often credited to have invented “rhythm tap” by broadening the musical depth of the dance through his powerful use of heels and a generally more modern phrasing. | weiterlesen… »

Tap Dance Masters: Honi Coles & Cholly Atkins

Coles & Atkins are best known today for their legendary slow soft shoe, a high point of musical and dance finesse. On the wohle it was not typical of Coles & Atkins to dance slowly, though. On the contrary: Homi Coles was said to have the fastest feet in the business and most of their choreographies were fast and powerful. | weiterlesen… »

Tap Dance Masters: The Nicholas Brothers

The Nicholas Brothers are Fayard (20.10.1914 – 24.01.2006) and Harold (17.03.1921 – 03.07.2000) Nicholas. They grew up in Philadelphia, where their parents worked as musicians at the Standard Theater and gave their kids a chance to see many vaudeville stars on stage, before they started their own career. The Nicholas Bros. became superstars in the big clubs of Harlem as well as on broadway and film. | weiterlesen… »

Shim Sham for everybody!

The Shim Sham is the national anthem of tap. Every tap dancer knows it. Many times, it is the final number at jam sessions or even at big festivals, just because it is the one number that anybody knows how to do. | weiterlesen… »

Groove Training #8: Canons

In a canon, polyphonic music is produced by a second voice imitating and overlapping the first after a certain amount of time. Famous examples can be found in folk songs. These songs seem simple and catchy, but unfold a complex and beautiful sound through the overlapping repetitions. | weiterlesen… »

Groove Training #7: 6/8th cowbell

If you did the 1st episode of the online groove tutorials, you already know the “hands & feet” exercises: you mark a steady pulse with the feet and clap a rhythm to it. If you have trouble with this, you might want to check the first tutorial one more time… Today, we use the “hands + feet” method to learn more about the complex possibilities of 6/8 grooves. | weiterlesen… »

Groove-Training #6: Pyramid 2

In groove training #2 we had the first rhythm pyramid: we danced of clapped eighth notes, triplets and sixteenth-notes over a steady pulse. Now we expand this system to “slower” subdivisions. We clap quarter notes and quarter triplets. | weiterlesen… »

Groove Training # 5: Clave

Here is another exercise from the “hands & feet” series.

Claves are central key rhythms in cuban music and they organize a whole grammar of complex rhythms associated with them. Even when the clave is not actually played, the musicians will synchronize their playing to the common understanding of the clave in a tune. But the clave is also important outside of Cuba. I think, it is a trademark of bossa nova, too, although it is not used as strictly there. In Latin Jazz, you will always hear clave-like rhythms, sometimes more, sometimes less prominent. In Westafrican music a 6/8 version of the clave is very important. (It probably is the source of all the other ones, actually…) | weiterlesen… »

Groove Training #4: Move a Move

This exercise is a follow-up to Groove Training #3 and gives a simple, effective way to practise with lots of benefits to our tap improvisation. The idea is to dance a step or motive at different positions in the bar. | weiterlesen… »