Sunday, July 2, 2017

It's a milestone: Nierenberg films on tap at Quad Cinema

The late tap dance great Chuck Green in Harlem
At right, Harold "Sandman" Sims and Bunny Briggs
(still from No Maps on My Taps, 1979,
by George T. Nierenberg, courtesy of Milestone Films)
Two more giants of the art:
Gregory Hines embraces his mentor Jimmy Slyde.
(photo: George T. Nierenberg, courtesy of Milestone Films)

Time has taken from us all of the beloved master innovators and mentors shown in the photos above. But contemporary tap lives and shines in exemplars like Savion Glover, Michelle Dorrance, Jason Samuels-Smith, Chloe Arnold, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Derick Grant, Ayodele Casel, Max Pollak, Roxane Butterfly, Caleb Teicher and a slew of eager youngsters coming up behind them. That torch keeps getting passed and won't go out as long as there are places where people can see and appreciate the riches tap has to offer.

Filmmaker George T. Nierenberg was an early hero in tap's recovery from the rise of television and rock 'n' roll, changes in the nature of choreography for Broadway musicals, and the subsequent loss of tap venues and gigs. His two intimate and beautiful films, No Maps on My Taps (1979) and About Tap (1984), featuring chats and performances by Chuck Green, Bunny Briggs, Harold "Sandman" SimsSteve Condos and Jimmy Slyde, helped revive interest in the art and turned on new generations of dancers and dance educators. In 2014, American Tap Dance Foundation presented Nierenberg with its American Tap Dance Preservation Award.


Film producer/director George T. Nierenberg
(photo: George T. Nierenberg, courtesy of Milestone Films)

At Manhattan's Quad Cinema, Milestone Films will now present the first theatrical release of No Maps on My Taps (58 min) and About Tap (28 min), digitally restored from the original camera negatives, for a week-long run coinciding with ATDF's popular Tap City: The New York City Tap Festival.

I can only say, GO! You cannot fail to enjoy these films and be moved by these artists. If you can, please take some young folks who might think tap has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with musicality, mad skills, collaboration, imagination, feeling and excellence. So, yes, it has everything to do with them.

No Maps on My Taps and About Tap open at Quad Cinema on Friday, July 7 and run through Thursday, July 13. Schedule information and ticketing will be available onsite tomorrow, Monday, July 3.

For Tap City 2017--which, once again, includes everything from shows and screenings to a ride on the Circle Line--click here to see some of what's up with tap today and what's coming tomorrow.

Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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