International Tap Dance Day!

Today, the 25th of May, is International Tap Dance Day! Love it! To celebrate, I have started reading ‘Tap!’ by Rusty B. Frank, at long last, after saying I was going to read it over the Christmas holidays and write a review…

Yesterday was the hottest day in May since the 1940s I think, and I had my usual level 1 & 2 Rhythm Tap classes at Morley. Well it really was like a sauna! It was the final week of our half-termly course, so after lots of practice exercises (including the (sweaty) 3-beat paddle and 5-beat riff) we worked on the final pieces of our level 1 ‘Let it Shine’ (Take That) and level 2 ‘Mr Bojangles’ routines.

Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson (25 May 1878 – 25 Nov 1949) was an African American tap dancer and entertainer, who performed in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, Broadway and television. His signature was the ‘stair dance’. He is best known for dancing in several films with Shirley Temple, and overcame many racial barriers in his time. You can find loads about him online.

220px-Bill_Robinson

I believe the song ‘Mr Bojangles’ written by Country singer Jerry Jeff Walker was inspired by a tap dancing homeless street performer who called himself Bojangles. A lot of people have sung ‘Mr Bojangles’, and I’m not sure who sang the version we used, but I thought I’d share the lyrics:

I knew a man Bojangles
And he’d dance for you
In worn out shoes

With silver hair a ragged shirt
And baggy pants
He would do the old soft shoe

He would jump so high
Jump so high
Then he lightly touch down

He told me of the time he worked with
Minstrel shows travelling
Throughout the south

He spoke with tears of fifteen years
How his dog and he
They would travel about.

But his dog up and died
He up and died
And after twenty years he still grieved

He said “I dance now
At every chance in the Honky Tonks
For my drinks and tips

But most the time I spend
Behind these country bars
You see on I drinks a bit”

Then he shook his head
Oh lord when he shook his head
I could swear I heard someone say please

Mister Bojangles
Call him Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles come back and dance please

Come back and dance again Mr Bojangles

Written by Jerry Jeff Walker • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

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