Tapping Through History

Learn how this specific form of dance has developed over time.

What the eye hears : a history of tap dancing

Seibert, Brian. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
612p index, 9780865479531 $35.00, 9780374536510 $18.00, 9781429947619 $16.99

tap dancing book cover

Although numerous excellent tap dance histories have been published—for example, Constance Valis Hill’s Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History (CH, Jun’10, 47-5557)—Seibert (who writes for The New Yorker and is dance critic for The New York Times) offers another outstanding comprehensive history to the literature. He not only focuses on how tap dance (and related forms such as American clog) emerged and developed in the US but also explores tap dance’s development worldwide—for example, European and Japanese tap dance groups—and how tap dance today relates to street dancing everywhere. Most important, Seibert’s history comes at the subject from the perspective of the sound of tap dance, whether live, on radio, in film, or on television. Scholarship in tap dancing generally neglects the sound aspect of the genre, and part of the challenge is finding ways to express the sounds of tap dance and to describe the steps, in writing, in ways readers will understand. Seibert is successful on all counts. An outstanding resource, particularly for those with a background in music as well as tap.

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
Reviewer: M. Goldsmith, Westfield State University
Recommendation: Essential
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Theater & Dance
Choice Issue: Dec 2016