An attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest tap dance is to be held on Sunday 15th November 2015 at hundreds of different locations across the UK, in aid of BBC Children in Need…. Including at SK Dance Studio!
Everyone is invited to take part and we’ll be teaching the special Tapathon2015 routine to SK Dance Studio tap pupils and adult tappers in class over the next few weeks. But don’t worry if you’re not perfect – it’s all about joining in, having fun and raising money for a very worthy cause.
What is Tapathon2015?
It’s not about duration – we won’t be dancing for hours. Tapathon is about the number of people across the UK who perform exactly the same routine at exactly the same time on the same day.
How is money raised?
Each tap dancer wishing to take part in Tapathon2015 orders a special Tapathon commemorative T-shirt costing £10 – all proceeds go to Children in Need. If you wish to raise even more money and donate it directly to Children in Need by getting sponsorship – feel free!
How do I register to take part?
To give enough time for the T-Shirts to arrive, you need to register to take part and pay your £10 by Tuesday 6th October. Please place your £10 in an envelope, write your name and t-shirt size (i.e. your usual clothes size for adults, or clothes age for children) on the front, and hand it in to Susan. And that’s it! Just learn the routine in class then come down to SK Dance Studio on Sunday 15th November at 12 noon to join in the fun and hopefully break a World Record!!!
Not danced with us before & want to join in?
No problem! Just come along to any of our tap classes in the run up to the event to learn the routine. Contact Susan to chat about the most appropriate class for you.
SK Dance Studio LOVES tap, so we’re super-excited to be involved in Tapathon2015 to use our love of dance to raise money for this very worthy cause.
Get practicing now with this video of the Tapathon2015 routine!
Hot on the heels of our ballet classes for two and three year old toddlers, we’re delighted to bring you news of yet another new class to the SK Dance Studio timetable… Tiny Tappers – a tap class exclusively for 2 and 3 year old toddlers.
As the name suggests, this is an ideal first tap dancing class that’s designed especially to engage and entertain little ones with music, movement and of course, lots of loud tapping!
Susan Kielb, principal of SK Dance Studio explains more… “Our Ballet Babies classes have been a huge hit with toddlers and parents alike that adding a tap class for two and three year olds to our schedule seemed a really logical move. Tap dancing is such tremendous fun”.
Tiny Tappers is held every Saturday morning at 9.30am, straight after our Ballet Babies session at 9.00am, making it really convenient for parents who’d like their child to do both classes. Like all SK Dance classes, Tiny Tappers is held at our dance studio at The Vale, Skullhouse Lane, Appley Bridge, WN6 9DJ.
If you need tap shoes, they’re available from SK Dance Studio for just £10. Toddlers can join up at any time.
“Percussive dance styles like tap dancing are really engaging for little ones” explained Susan. “The sound of your own taps on a dance-floor is something truly exciting and helps children to develop rhythm, coordination and of course, burn off some energy. Tap dancing is fast and fun for both boys and girls, so come along and try out class”.
Like all our dance classes, Tiny Tappers is taught by a fully qualified dance teacher (registered with Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing I.S.T.D. and the Allied Dancing Association A.D.A.). For more information on Tiny Tappers, Ballet Babies or any of the other classes on the SK Dance Studio schedule, don’t hesitate to contact Susan on 07952 864 084.
Gene Kelly grew up in a working-class neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where instead of playing out with his mates, spent his free time in dancing classes. Trained in Classical Ballet and after working as both a dance teacher and a successful Broadway musical actor, Gene Kelly hit Hollywood with a bang in the 1942 film “For Me and My Gal” opposite Judy Garland.
Perhaps reflective of his working-class roots, Gene was famous for his distinctively relaxed dance style and favoured regular clothes and every-day settings for his routines over extravagant costumes and fancy sets. This common-man’s approach to choreography created some of the most memorable movie dance scenes of all time, like the unforgettable puddle-splashing, lamppost-swinging sequence in “Singing in the Rain”.
Gene was also the master of dancing with props which added technical complexity and humour to his choreography in equal measure. Take the amazing scene from the 1943 movie “Thousands Cheer” for example, in which Gene dances with both a mop and a broom. And you don’t get more complex than his outstanding tap dancing on roller-skates routine from “It’s Always Fair Weather” released in 1955. OK, so dancer and regular co-star Donald O’Connor may have tap-skated on film first, but Kelly’s interpretation a couple of years later completely blew it out of the water IMHO.
His technical brilliance, combined with comedic delivery and a knack for connecting with the audience, underlines Gene’s genius and puts him (now I’ve had chance to think about it), right at the top of the SK Dance Studio Top 10 Dancers of All Time list.
As you may have gathered from some of the other choices in the SK Dance Studio best dancers of all time list, we just LOVE percussive dance styles so there’s plenty of tap dancers in our top 10 list. And when it comes to tap-dancing in particular, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson was the absolute godfather.
Bill’s signature dance style was so relaxed and understated, it was virtually horizontal. Apart from a natural swing of the arms and the odd tilt of his hat, the upper-body hardly featured in his choreography at all and to be honest, why would you want to take the focus off your feet when you can dance like Mr Bojangles?
Born in 1878 as Luther Robinson (a name he apparently didn’t like so swapped names with his brother – strange I know), Bill was dancing from a very early age. As a child, he worked as a “hoofer” – a sort of dancing busker, then dropped out of school to pursue his dance career with a travelling company, which eventually led to huge success on Broadway.
Bill’s career was propelled to the big time thanks to the ingenious “stair-dance” routine he created for the 1928 Broadway revue, Blackbirds. And if you needed justification for Bill’s number two spot, then watch this routine for yourself. With no set, no costumes and no big band to distract you, all you can focus on is the quality and rhythmic brilliance of the tap dancing. I mean, how many beats can you possibly cram into a riff or wing? It’s ridiculous and absolutely, utterly mesmerising!
Bill was still amazing audiences in his fifties thanks to a successful screen pairing with Shirley Temple in a series of smash-hit musicals. Through this endearing partnership, Bill got to recreate his famous stair-dance routine in “The Little Colonel”, as well as make social history by becoming the first African American male to ever dance with a white girl on film.
With Ginger Rogers at number 7, you don’t get any prizes for guessing that Fred Astaire must feature near the top of the SK Dance Studio Top 10 Dancers of All Time list. Although most famous for his pairing with Ginger, Fred’s primary partner in his early career was his older sister Adele and together, they enjoyed much success on the Vaudeville circuit and on Broadway. But the siblings went their separate ways and Fred set his sights on Hollywood.
Big screen success wasn’t instant though and not everyone appreciated his talents. One movie executive famously knocked him back with the summary: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little”. A little? Are you kidding? In 1933, Astaire managed to land a small role in a Joan Crawford movie which gave him a foot in the door at RKO. There he was matched with Ginger Rogers and the rest is history.
Fred was well known as a perfectionist, in terms of both his choreography and the way in which his routines were executed. With Fred, nothing was left to chance, with every last detail of every single move carefully thought out. This was proved in the 1952 film “The Belle of New York” in which he filmed a solo dance number called “I Want to Be a Dancin’ Man”. Some time after the film was completed, movie bosses decided that the stage set and Fred’s costume needed upgrading, so had him film the dance sequence again. Watch these two versions side-by-side and you’ll see exactly how well rehearsed Astaire was – it’s like dancing with a reflection!
Fred insisted that his dance sequences were shot from a stationary camera which held the dancers in full view. This meant limited cutting away, no camera trickery and no fancy editing to help make the sequence more engaging for the viewer. Combine this with Fred’s preference for filming routines in one single take and you’ve got proof of both his technical brilliance and how utterly mesmerising he was as a dancer.
As well as the snappy tap routines and stunningly smooth ballroom numbers for which Fred and Ginger were famous, Astaire’s capacity for mastering a wide range of dance genres allowed him to continually re-invent himself and keep his choreography super-fresh. With Rita Hayworth for instance, he fused his signature tap style with Latin-inspired moves, whilst with Cyd Charisse in the “The Band Wagon”, Astaire performed an all-together more avant-garde piece in the “Dem Bones Café” scene with enormous flair. It’s said that Michael Jackson was heavily influenced by Astaire – kind of obvious when you compare this sequence with the Smooth Criminal video.
Whilst not quite in my number one spot, Fred Astaire is a complete dancing legend and totally warrants a high ranking place in the SK Dance Studio Top 10 Dancers of All Time list.
Born Virginia McMath in 1911, Ginger Rogers was best known as the beautiful and graceful dance partner of Fred Astaire. Alongside Fred, she demonstrated her versatility in 10 smash hit Hollywood movies, showing us everything from the romance and liquidity of a perfectly executed waltz, to the highest of high energy tap routines.
Ginger was an accomplished dancer in her own right long before she ever met Astaire. She’d been a state champion Flapper dancer, had a very successful Vaudeville act, achieved critical acclaim as a Broadway performer and appeared in several Hollywood movies in the pre-Fred years. But it was the pairing with Astaire that gave Ginger the platform to show the world her dancing mettle.
Although Astaire was the creative force behind the pairing and commanded control over the choreography, Ginger did often contribute to the process. And when it came to the performance, she proved herself more than a match for Fred’s technical brilliance and that’s no mean feat given she was dancing his steps, backwards – and usually in high heels!
The thing I most love about Ginger was her ability to make the complex, look really easy – and that’s the mark of a truly accomplished dancer. And because she was a great actress too, she helped to boost the appeal of her famous dance partner. Dance critic John Mueller once said that “the reason so many women have fantasised about dancing with Fred Astaire is that Ginger Rogers conveyed the impression that dancing with him is the most thrilling experience imaginable”.
Thanks to a Eurovision win in 1993 by Niamh Kavanagh, Ireland got to play host to the famous song contest in 1994 and in line with tradition, was expected to put on the ‘half-time’ entertainment. Keen to impress, the organisers wanted to create a show that people would really remember, incorporating the very best of Ireland’s musical and cultural heritage.
Enter Michael Flatley. Although born and raised in Chicago, Flatley had already made a big name for himself in Irish Dance circles, having become the first non-European ever to win the Irish Dance World Championships in 1975. He even broke a Guinness World Record in 1989 having knocked out an incomprehensible 28 taps per second.
The seven minute Irish dance spectacular created for Eurovision was the catalyst to global success for Flatley, showcasing his undoubted talent as both a choreographer and dancer. Audiences simply couldn’t get enough and flocked in their droves to see the full length Riverdance show that spawned from the Eurovision number. Flatley went on to create and star in many other amazing shows including Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames. These shows were so big that in many cities, they played in arenas instead of theatres to meet the demand. All this made Flatley a multi-millionaire who reportedly insured his dancer’s legs for a whopping forty million dollars.
Flatley’s brilliance completely re-invented Irish dancing, taking it from the twee domain of mop-haired little girls, to the hottest, most exciting ticket in town.
Anyone who’s ever watched an old Shirley Temple movie will surely appreciate why she makes the SK Dance Studio Top 10 Dancers of All Time list. OK, so the corkscrew curls and fru-fru outfits may be a tad on the precocious side, but it can’t take away from the sheer brilliance of dancing displayed by this child star of the 1930s.
And she proved herself over and over in film after film… a stonking 43 of them in fact by the time she was twelve years old in 1940 (yes people – that’s FORTY THREE movies).
The quality of her tap dancing could run rings around many professional adult dancers, yet astoundingly she was infant school-aged in her first full length Hollywood Movie “Carolina”.
Shirley’s image and style was perhaps best epitomised by the number “Good Ship Lollipop” from the 1934 movie “Bright Eyes”. This sugar-coated ditty became Shirley’s theme tune and ever since, cute ‘baby class’ dancers have been delighting proud parents with their own renditions in dancing school shows across the land.
As she grew from a child and into a teenager, Shirley’s enormous box office pull gradually weakened. It seemed audiences simply didn’t want to deal with her inevitable adolescence – such a shame given her later films achieved critical acclaim despite their poor box office receipts.
Susan and the SK Dance Studio team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to watch our performance of “Star Spangled Showtime”.
Commenting on USA-inspired show theme, SK Dance Studio Principal Susan Kielb said “Being Friday 4th and Saturday 5th July, the dates of our show this year coincided with American Independence Day. There’s so many fantastic USA inspired dance numbers to choose from that we just couldn’t resist the temptation to go with it”.
The show, which was held at the Preston Playhouse Theatre, was a glittering bonanza of a performance with amazing costumes, uplifting music and of course, fabulous dancing from all our students.
Like all Susan’s shows, every dancer got their big opportunity to really shine on stage and with such an amazing back-catalogue of US themed dance numbers to choose from, there was really something for everyone in the show.
“Our tap numbers got the audience’s feet tapping along with those of the dancers, whilst our modern and street-dance routines gave us the chance to incorporate a range of well known US musical styles into the programme. And for the classical ballet lovers in the audience, our talented ballet students wowed us with a collection of beautiful dances” said Susan.
As well as a huge thank you to everyone who bought tickets, we’d also like to thank all the parents and helpers who supported behind the scenes, providing much appreciated support with everything from costume making, to chaperoning, to making the tea! We couldn’t put on such a great show without all your hard work – and we appreciate it so much.
But the biggest thank you has to go to all our dancers who were amazing, from the littlest tots in our baby classes, through to our students. “You all performed brilliantly” said Susan. “I am so proud of each and every one of you. Huge congratulations!”.