When was the last time you saw tap dancing on the big screen?
Perhaps it was the tapping penguins in Happy Feet that made you smile a few years back, or the virtuosity of the late great Gregory Hines dancing in Tap, White Nights, or The Cotton Club.
Maybe, all you can remember are the time-honored classics of Fred Astaire in Top Hat or Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain.
Perhaps if you are young enough, you may not know any of these names.
The questions I ask are where are the women and why are they absent from the list?
When a screenwriter proposed the film idea, my first thought was, “I know absolutely nothing about filmmaking”. But I also got a little emotional because she understood, on a soul level, the invisibility of tap as an indigenous American art form, the importance of the history of female tappers, and the sole stories waiting to be told.
Which is when, and why, the seed of this idea was planted.
Through the medium of film there is potential for tremendous impact. The opportunity is unprecedented, inspiring, and situates squarely with the organization’s mission.
Throughout its life, Taps Are Talking has had a rhythm of its own. Mostly, those of us involved with the organization find ourselves improvising, finding new steps to match our efforts to provide a voice for the art of tap dancing. We trust that the creative genius of tap will guide us. It’s both exciting and unpredictable and our progress thus far has been remarkable.
The next step toward a feature film is to create the “treatment/pitch packet” which involves a breakdown of the script, research, detailed design and budget. The packet is the film’s “calling card” and therefore, must be powerful and captivating.
Because of copyright issues I can only give you a general idea of the storyline.
A woman goes on a quest to find an elusive, old-time female tap dancer. The idea is multi-generational and will incorporate the different stages of a woman’s life.
As a teacher I have a philosophy that tap dancing is very much like life. There are several elements in tap that are elusive but essential: shifting the weight, balancing, letting go, falling – both in love and in taking risks, improvising and above all rhythm.
After many decades as a tap dancer, I have mastered many of those concepts as a performer and teacher. Incorporating them into my life though, is a daily practice that requires a great deal of patience and grace with myself.
Feel free to ponder the connection between tap and life, the body as the messenger, the dance with forces unknown and the sheer beauty of living life from your soul.
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