“And I will also accept this award and dedicate it to the unity and the love and the non-judgemental energy that we have because we do not judge each other. We love each other. If you have a pair of tap shoes on, you’re in! There’s no dues to pay. It’s not one of those things where you have to tap like somebody else taps or you have to tap the way tap must be. If you want it, we want you!”
What do Gregory Hines, love and tap dance have in common? (2:15)
February 14th marks Valentine’s Day, the season of love, but for so many tap dancers around the world Valentine’s Day is a chance to celebrate Gregory Hines who was born on February 14th in 1946. He sadly passed away too soon in August of 2003, but his mark on tap dance still lives on.
The US Postal Service recently issued the 42nd stamp in the Black Heritage series by honoring Gregory Hines with a forever stamp featuring a beautiful photo of Gregory taken in 1988 taken by Jack Mitchell. On the USPS website, it says they honored Gregory Hines “whose unique style of tap dancing injected new artistry and excitement into a traditional american form!”
Gregory Hines: (3:20)
It’s so exciting to see tap dance receive such public recognition in 2019. Gregory Hines brought a beautiful different energy to tap dance and was a part of a movement that transitioned tap dance from class acts to cool and sexy. From when he started performing with his brother as The Hines Kids and later as The Hines Brothers and then Hines Hines and Dad when their father joined the act, to the Broadway stage in Jelly’s Last Jam, to the movies in The Cotton Club and White Nights where he’s dancing alongside Baryshnikov. These are just a few in the long list of Gregory Hines’s artistic accomplishments. I encourage you to take some time to go down the YouTube rabbit hole and enjoy the footage of many of these performances. My favorite video is when Gregory performed on the Arsenio Hall Show with Stanley Clark in 1993.
Gregory Hines was such a free and funky improviser. He was so engaged with the music and his audiences. One of the things that I find so inspiring about Gregory is based on the documentaries that I’ve watched and the stories I’ve heard. Acts of kindness, encouragement, and positivity were always popping up. My understanding from the stories I’ve heard is that he truly enveloped that energy and practiced what he preached. When I watch this video, I feel like this speech was a reminder to all of us that we need to stick with love. I think we can all use a reminder about loving the dance.
Love The Dance: (6:20)
With the world we live in now, we get caught up so easily. Who has gigs? Whose posts have likes? Whose videos are popular? Sometimes there’s that angry voice that pops into your head and wonders “why them and not me?” I encourage you to rediscover that non-judgemental energy that Gregory speaks about. It’s important to remember that no one owns tap dance. No one person is the keeper of sacred information and no one person decides what is legitimate and honorable to the dance.
Love is where it’s at! I have been on the other side of feeling angry, frustrated and cheated in the dance, comparing myself to other people and their individual journeys. When I realized that everybody has a place in this world and it’s all about the love of the dance, I found a new joy that I wish upon every tap dancer in our community.
Tap Dance as a Common Denominator (8:01)
Because of a mutual love and respect for tap dance, I see tap dancers walking in and out of my studio, Grooves Unlimited, who would never be in the same room together under different circumstances and there they are sharing time and space on the wood, together. People of different sizes, generations and socioeconomic backgrounds stand together in the same circle dancing to the same music shouting each other out and supporting each other. Why? Because they all have a mutual love and respect for this amazing art form.
And that is the beauty of this dance and one of the greatest reminders of what we can take away from Gregory Hines on this Valentine’s Day!
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