Courtesy of Taps at Yale

Taps at Yale will make their post-pandemic return to the stage this week with “Tapitalism,” a program of tap dances inspired by the theme of money.

Taps is a group of undergraduate student dancers devoted to celebrating and performing tap dance. Twenty-six students will participate in Taps’ performance, which is their first following a two year pandemic-driven hiatus. The performance will take place on Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 6:30 and 9 p.m. The group has chosen the theme “Tapitalism” for the performance, choreographing pieces to songs with money-oriented themes such as “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child and “Material Girl” by Madonna. 

“The themes are always a time to make a little fun of ourselves, let our guards down and enjoy the moment,” Taps co-president Sam Heimowitz ’23 said. “This one is particularly hilarious because of its capitalist undertones.” 

The group had to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions, especially considering that 26 is the largest number of student performers Taps has featured since its founding in 1995. The performances, which will take place in the Morse Stiles Crescent Underground Theater, will consist of two acts with an intermission in between. Taps treasurer Madison Sirota ’24 explained that the theater will be at 75 percent capacity and that everyone, including performers, will be masked for the duration of the performance. 

The performance will consist of 12 numbers, 11 of which are student-choreographed. The dance numbers will be accompanied by live music performed by the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective. Though the “Tapitalism” theme was originally chosen in the Spring of 2019, Taps has had to rehearse with an abbreviated 1.5 month timeline due to COVID-19 restrictions and dance studio space coordination.

“Despite the limited amount of time we’ve had to prepare, we are definitely ready,” co-president Max Heimowitz ’23 said. “The amount of work Taps members have put into this show is incredible, especially while juggling mountains of homework and exams throughout the semester.” 

Of the 12 numbers being performed, the closing pieces of the first and second acts are group numbers featuring all 26 dancers. The co-presidents explained that group numbers are typically the performances most directly engaged with the chosen theme. 

The one non-student-choreographed piece which will be performed in the showcase is called “Opus 1” and was choreographed by tap master Harold Cromer. Cromer, an African American tap dancer born in 1921, has an extensive legacy in the world of modern tap dance. Taps hopes to commemorate this legacy through performing his piece, which was taught to dancers by Taps member Gabrielle Niederhoffer ’23. 

“Spreading our love of tap dance not only includes the sounds we make with our feet, but also the history that those sounds carry,” Max Heimowitz said. “Tap dance has a rich history indelibly linked to enslavement in the United States, and so it’s only right that we include choreography in the show that pays homage to this history.”

The other student-choreographed numbers were worked on collaboratively by various members of Taps. Sam Heimowitz explained that their members’ choreographic experience is varied, but the group always encourages first time choreographers to participate. 

Taps is also excited to be collaborating with the Undergraduate Jazz Collective to feature live music accompanying the numbers being performed. 

“We have a super incredible collaboration with the Jazz Collective,” Max Heimowitz said. “Tap dance and jazz music have been forever intertwined, so we thought it would be only right to reach out to the Collective to see if they’d want to join us!” 

Though the performance sold out in only eight hours, the group’s YouTube page will feature a livestream option for anyone who was not able to purchase a ticket.