Directed by Mark Wilkinson
Film Society of Lincoln Center/
Dance on Camera 46
Friday July 20 8:45 pm
Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th Street
Make America Great Again? This slogan has left most of us pondering “When exactly was that?” It is, in fact, a catch-all phrase designed to coerce the listener into envisioning their own “greatest time” and, in turn, pine for it. But, as with most dreamy thoughts, upon closer inspection, it wasn’t truly as great as remembered. Left to our own devices, rose-colored glasses shield our eyes from a good deal of the truth of our past.
And so it is, with American history. And so it is with tap dance.
What comes to mind when most think of tap dance is something far from the complete story. Unbeknownst to most casual fans, like America, it was built on the backs of poor immigrants and African-American slaves. One thing that defines us as Americans is that we are survivors. The sheer courage it takes to leave one’s family and homeland and board (or be imprisoned on) a ship for over a month to create a new life in a wholly unknown land is hard to fathom in a culture that can preview every step of their journey on an iPhone and a Google map. Those pioneers, those forced migrants, used their feet to tell their story.
Inspired by the tap dancers who frequent the jazz haunts of the West Village (including footage from Small’s and Fat Cat) American Tap is a fascinating, toe-tapping dance into the past.
Text by Tanya Perez. Photo by Mark Wilkinson