TAP DANCE: The body as an instrument
TAP Dance has come through a long way to stand up as a popular form of dance which we associate nowadays to North America and the Hollywood musical comedies on the late 30´s, but… Do we really know where Tap does come from?
Let´s imagine for a moment the wet heat on a cotton plantation in Georgia, south United States. It´s summer and the air is thick, the sun burns our backs and there is no way to scape from chains, at least that´s what white slavers think. Here, the slaves are forbidden to use any percussion instrument to prevent any kind of communication between them… But it´s a fact! human beings had always found its ways and then, from the depths of those plantations raises the Juba, a type of dance in which the body itself turns into an acoustic box: The clapping, stomping and slapping sounded and there was no way for slavers to deny it. And, even if we are not yet talking about TAP dance, in this antic way of expression from slaves, we can easily recognize some origins of the dance which turned Fred Astaire one of the most famous dancers on the early 30´s.
However, Tap dance is not the only artistic expression in which the body embraces the music as a percussion instrument. Flamenco and other cultural dances in Latin America such as danza Tapatía in Mexico, the peruvian dance and Joropo in Colombia and Venezuela are also familiar with music made upon the use of the body languaje to produce sound.
In fact, despite of how far might we see nowadays slavery, it is appealing that this painful chapter of history remain as the origin of some artistic forms of expression as Juba and Delta blues, cultural references that evolved later on arts like Tap dance, jazz and rock and roll. Indeed, percussion just as the beating of the heart, is the proof that arts and life are connected and they both have always known how to find the way to rise up even through the most difficult circumstances.