Taps dance through history

“Tap to the Future,” the upcoming show of the Taps dance group, will feature a diverse collection of stu- dent-choreographed pieces.
“Tap to the Future,” the upcoming show of the Taps dance group, will feature a diverse collection of stu- dent-choreographed pieces. Photo by Samantha Gardner.

Taps, Yale’s only all-tap dancing group, will highlight the dance form through the ages in its annual showcase this week, which is the group’s only performance of the year.

The group’s graduate and undergraduate dancers have been preparing the show, called “Tap to the Future,” since the beginning of fall semester, Taps president Ruth Lovejoy ’13 said. The performance will include an extremely diverse collection of entirely student-choreographed pieces, as well as a storyline that will unfold during the interludes between dances, she said. This skit will involve “Back to the Future” protagonist Marty McFly accidentally traveling back to the 18th century and meeting George Washington, followed by the two of them time-traveling through various decades of music and tap-dancing together.

“Tap to the Future” will include a series of dances with fewer members and a group finale to a mash-up of songs from the 1990s, Taps member Holly Hajare ’15 explained.

Lovejoy said the group’s smaller size and many students’ relative lack of experience with choreography have sometimes made it a challenge to develop enough original material for past showcases. But this year, she explained, the group did not face similar difficulties, in part due to an influx of freshman dancers willing to try new things.

The pieces in the show span a variety of styles, from dances done in an earlier, more traditional “swing” style tap to faster modern pieces done to pop music, Taps member Julia Hosch ’14 said. The group will also perform to songs from musicals, she said, adding that tap was first made famous by its appearance in Broadway shows.

“I choreograph to songs I listen to generally that already have interesting rhythms in them or would be conducive to having interesting rhythms put on top of them,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy said she has personally choreographed pieces to artists like Maroon 5 and Adele. The show will also include examples of modern “stomp” tap, which is done a cappella, Hosch said.

Hosch explained that the comedic, time-travel-themed interludes align with the show’s spirit, because the purpose of tap has always been first and foremost to entertain.

“It’s free, it’s very high energy. … It’s fun percussion with your feet,” Hosch said, adding that the style was born out of a mix between Irish step dancing and African-American dance. “It’s a very American form of dance.”

Hosch said that because tap is such a niche style, the group manages to bring together people on campus from many backgrounds, including Yale College, the Law School and the School of Medicine.

Isabella More ’10 LAW ’13, who has been dancing with Taps since she came to Yale College as a freshman, said she has witnessed the group shift from an almost entirely undergraduate membership to one with a significantly higher concentration of graduate students. She explained that the flexibility and laid-back nature of the group have made it easier to continue being a part of it for the past seven years, despite other commitments.

“Tap to the Future” will run from Feb. 7–9 at the Off-Broadway Theater.

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