Tap Roots

The Early History of Tap Dancing


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About the Book

Tracing the development of tap dancing from ancient India to the Broadway stage in 1903, when the word “Tap” was first used in publicity to describe this new American style of dance, this text separates the cultural, societal and historical events that influenced the development of Tap dancing. Section One covers primary influences such as Irish step dancing, English clog dancing and African dancing. Section Two covers theatrical influences (early theatrical developments, “Daddy” Rice, the Virginia Minstrels) and Section Three covers various other influences (Native American, German and Shaker). Also included are accounts of the people present at tap’s inception and how various styles of dance were mixed to create a new art form.

About the Author(s)

Mark Knowles, choreographer of more than 300 theatrical productions, is on the faculty of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, California.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Knowles

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 283
Bibliographic Info: 124 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1267-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
List of Illustrations     xi
Preface     1

1 Irish Influences     7
2 English Influences     15
3 African Influences     22
4 Dance in the West Indies     27
5 Dance in New Orleans     34
6 Dance on the Plantation     38
7 Slave Religion and the Ring Shout     55
8 Dispersion of African-American Dances     63

9 Early Theatrical Developments     73
10 “Daddy” Rice     78
11 The King of Diamonds and Master Juba     86
12 The Virginia Minstrels     93
13 The Development of the Minstrel Show     100
14 Black Minstrelsy and Musical Theatre     117
15 Other Forms of Entertainment     127
16 Vaudeville     135
17 English Music Hall     150
18 Women on the Stage     156

19 Indian, Gypsy, and Spanish Influences     167
20 German and Shaker Influences     174
21 Native American Influences     182
22 American Country Dance     190
23 Conclusions     200

Notes     211
Bibliography     249
Index     259

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title
  • “extensive research…recommended…will satisfy readers who would like more early history”—Library Journal
  • “photos are outstanding…a superior contribution…more than commendable, it’s indispensable…fascinating”—Classic Images
  • “this lively and engaging book embodies the vitality, energy, and syncopated rhythm of the dance form it discusses…an excellent resource guide”—Choice
  • “comprehensive…highly readable”—Dance Spirit
  • “represents some of most extensive and contemporary writings available on the subject…definitive”—Dancer