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Afternoon Delight: It's National Tap Dance Day!

by Jerome Weeks 25 May 2011 1:00 PM

For the occasion, we offer this rare footage of the late, great Gregory Hines in action — fluid, joyful and seemingly effortless.


Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re just back from lunch, but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back tomorrow at 1 p.m. for another one.
For National Tap Dance Day, we offer this rare footage of the late, great Gregory Hines in action. Many Dallasites were fortunate to see him in person performing solo for a Dallas Theater Center gala in the late ’80s in the old Arts District Theater. I recall vividly watching him tap-dancing up the aisles into the audience, knocking his feet on any surface, vertical or horizontal. He even contemplated tap-dancing up on the wooden railings (essentially, dancing on a 2×4 that, on one side, was only four feet off the ground while the other side plunged down about 20 feet). He thought better of it. But he did do a flying leap off the stage — and back on it — still dancing in rhythm.

What was remarkable about his performance then and in this video wasn’t just the joyful, utterly fluid quality he brings to tap (and not the grinning, mechanical look that many tappers have): He’s doing this without any musical accompaniment. Yet you can hear a baseline rhythm throughout all his variations and improvs.