What is at the core of a movement? I like to start with space. Whether the movement is of the body with bones, and connective tissue and all the intricate mechanics of our biology as humans or if it is a movement that comes from a collective that initiates a change in culture or society. That latter kind of movement also involves individual values, dialogues between often passionate parties, and a dedication to a process. There are so many systems that must be acting out or put in place in order to make any kind of movement. “Space is the hidden catalyst of all movement and change,” states Jaimen McMillan, the founder and director of the Spacial Dynamics Institute. Because as humans we often focus on what is seen and heard, space is often not even considered. We see this lack of consideration everywhere: building design, cultural institution leadership, urban planning, political party organization, economics, social identities, dance class, peer groups…and so on. Space is probably the one thing we are effected by the most and have the least amount awareness of.
Now let’s talk Tap. In its most basic understanding, Tap Dance is an art form that moves the body to make sound. This is done while wearing a very specific kind of shoes and while employing a very specific kind of technique that derives from a specific amalgamation of sectors, cultures, ethnicities, struggles and stylists. Of course the story doesn’t end there. The story is never-ending. Any storyteller who professes to know the whole story is lying, in denial or sadly misled. There is no rhythm, and therefore no story, without the spaces between. Something I teach and try to remember: knowledge is power and knowledge is limited (there is always more to be had) so use your power wisely.
Tap Dance exists in so many ways for so many people. It spans a geographic space that is planetary, yet, also thrives in areas of virtual isolation. It engages a mental space that is a complex swirl of firing synapses linking many areas of the brain to one another. It can monopolize on an emotional space by temporarily uplifting a severely darkened spirit or literally bringing a dancer to her knees. It’s a shiny impression made under the bright lights of elite stages, festivals, and trending television shows that dress it in competition. It also transforms the dusty streets of a bustling slum into an intimate gathering of joyful and curious participants and watchers. Tap Dance belongs to no one. If it did we couldn’t call it an art form. We would have to call it something else.