Topical History

History of Tap Dancing

The history of tap dance in North America mostly stems from the Irish step dancing seen in minstrel shows in the mid-1800’s. White and black performers imitated each other throughout this time period, creating satires off each others dance shows. These minstrel shows would soon give way to the increasingly popular Vaudevillian style of stage performance. Notable dance figures such as “Buck and Bubbles” (John Sublett and Ford Washington) would emerge in the early 1900’s altering and shaping the nuances in the tap style. Buck and Bubbles would create a Buck and Wing style, that would be molded and changed throughout the next years of tap.

Lindy Hop’s “flying swing outs” and “flying circles” were soon infused with tap during the 1930’s. Jazz music and tap dance would begin to fade to new pop music and rock and roll as the years progressed. In 1979, the revival of tap dance began with “No Maps on My Taps,” the Emmy award winning PBS documentary. Movies like “Happy Feet” have also acted as a modern day revival of tap, and have helped incite today’s dancers to further the art of tap dancing.