JAS Cafe Corner: Tap & Jazz


When trumpeter Alphonso Horne and his fiery New Orleans flared band The Gotham Kings, perform at the JAS Cafe they will be joined with globally sought-after tap dancer Michela Marino Lerman, who the NY Times describes as both a “prodigy” and describes her dancing as “flashes of brilliance.”

Tap, the dance form of jazz music, has been around more or less since the late nineteenth century, at the crossroads of African and Irish American dance forms. When slave owners took away traditional African percussion instruments, slaves turned to percussive dancing to express themselves and retain their cultural identities. These styles of dance connected with clog dancing from the British Isles, creating a unique form of movement and rhythm.

 By the Jazz age twenties, tap dancers had discovered the rhythmic power of jazz. In this decade in which jazz music became popular nighttime entertainment, jazz tap dance – which was distinguished by its intricate rhythmic motifs, polyrhythm, multiple meters, and elements of – emerged as the most rhythmically complex form of jazz dancing. Setting itself apart from all earlier forms of tap dance, jazz tap dance matched its speed to that of jazz music, and often doubled it. Here was an extremely rapid yet subtle form of drum dancing that demanded the dancer’s center to be lifted, the weight balanced between the balls and heels of both feet. While the dancer’s alignment was upright and vertical, there was a marked angularity in the line of the body that allowed for the swift downward of weight.

Add a Comment