My Tap Audition
Inspired by "The Artist"
Whoa Here I Go!
I've been taking tap for about 12 years now after giving it to myself as a birthday present one year. I'd always wanted to learn how to do it ever since I was a little girl, because I'd read Sammy Davis Jrs.' autobiography "Yes I Can!" and it really touched me. My mother didn't know about my dream, however, and took me to ballet class instead. So it remained a secret desire until years later when I saw Tommy Tune do a tap routine in "Bye, Bye Birdie" in Long Beach, California one night.
"You know I've always wanted to do that," I told my best friend who was there with me. "I think I'm going to start looking for a class and pursue it now."
When I Started Taking Tap:
Initially we had planned to take it together, since he's a professional contemporary dancer, but when our friendship ended that changed. I convinced another friend to take it with me instead, but when that fell through too, I decided to continue on alone. The week of my birthday I called Santa Monica College's Dance Department and asked if they had a Beginning Tap class. They told me they did with professional tapper Mark Mendonca.
From the beginning tap was a financial sacrifice because I had to pay for my shoes and classes while working and going to school. If I had to do it over again, I would do everything exactly the same way, since it's given me so much joy and inspired me so much over the years. Personally it's been an investment and psychologically it's been my salvation from stress, so it's more than paid for itself. Besides financial sacrifices I also consider all of the time I've practiced, rehearsed and performed as a sacrifice that allowed me to focus on a positivee activity when more negative ones were available.
My Tap Teachers:
When I first started Mark Mendonca was the dancer I really admired because he not only taught me how to tap but he was my first role model. Now that some people have told me that I'm a role model due to the age I started tap and my triumph over a series of life-altering obstacles, I realize there have been various dancers I've admired for different reasons because of how much they've helped me. For example, I admire Josette and Joseph Wiggans for their style, flair and elegance, and I admire Diane Davisson for teaching me swing tap. Overall the dancer who's definitely helped me the most is Sarah Reich. I've known her since I first met her, when she was a little girl at "Dance Arts Academy" while I was taking Mark Mendonca's class there. Personally she's always been kind and considerate and professionally she's helped me with my musicality and style. She even gave me such an appreciation for jazz I've become a total convert.
When It Came To Tap Nothing Got Me Down:
I've had quite a few obstacles threatning my progress with tap including a stalker, jealous co-workers, and my health issues. Throughout all of my problems and crises I've tapped! That's one of the bestg things the dance has given me-the strength to continue living my dream despite the roadblocks. One of the most significant problems I've had to deal with was getting Stage II A Breast Cancer in 2010. I was so sick because I also had lupus and an ulcer (thanks to the stalker), high-blood pressure and depression that it almost prevented me from dancing altogether. To get through it I'd get up everyday and try to gradually start tapping again whenever I had the strength.
I started with the shuffles, flaps and toe/heels then slowly worked up to the "Shim Sham Shimmy". Over time I was able to create simple routines and practice them in front of my mirror every morning. When the "Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center" had their first Open Mic I felt it was time to debut my comeback to tap. Since that first Open Mic, I've tapped in two others and, later collaborated on a photograph using blue and white LED lights for professional photographer Andrew Hall's photography class, "Shooting The Light".
From the beginning my mother's been supportive and her participation as both an audience member and cheering section has helped me continue when times got rough and I wanted to give up. Her presence in front of me, when I performed on stage in "Katnap Dance Studio's" show "Gotta Dance!" and SMC's "Folklorico" and "Synapse" shows made me feel as if all of the hard work was worth it after all.
When I see how successful movies like "The Artist" and "Happy Feet 1 and 2" are I'm glad tap is evolving enough, as an art form, to inspire filmmakers to feature it prominently. Still I would love to see it become as popular as it once was in its heyday.
Lastly, the reason I love tap so much is that it relieves a lot of stress and I can work through all of my physical and psychological limitations without consciously thinking about them. It's a joyous dance and one that encompasses all cultures, backgrounds, ages and skill levels. Because of that I'm glad to have found a dance that allows me to do it regardless of where I am in my life. It's definitely been the one I've gone back to whenever I've needed a lift, because as long as I can get up and tap I know everything's going to be okay.