Education Guide: Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs

Tap Dogs

AGE ADVISORY:

This show is appropriate for all ages. 

ABOUT THE SHOW:

Created by Australian choreographer Dein Perry, “Tap Dogs” combines the strength and power of workmen with the precision and talent of tap dancing. Set in the steelwork’s town of Newcastle, Australia, “Tap Dogs” lets the audience experience the thrill of a revitalized genre of dance in an exhilarating show that is part theatre, part dance, part rock concert and part construction site.

DIGGING DEEPER:

“Tap Dogs” was created in Australia, but its roots are firmly in the American art form of tap dancing. Tap dance is an American dance genre that grew out of a fusion of African tribal dances, Irish and British clogging steps and jigs. Through the years, tap dancing evolved as an art form and continued to find and grow its audiences from vaudeville, film and television to the Broadway stage.

Here is a closer look at some tap dancers whose work defined the evolution of tap dance in America:

  • Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
    Bill “Bojangles” Robinson first started performing in minstrel shows, then moved to vaudeville shows in 1905. He was a towering figure whose elegant percussive footwork remains popular even today.
  • Perhaps there is no other name as synonymous with tap dancing as Fred Astaire. With his countless American films, Fred revolutionized the tap world’s presence in movies.
  • Donald O’Connor, Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly and Sammy Davis Jr. all joined Fred Astaire at the pinnacle of the world of tap from the 1930s through the 1950s and beyond. They were theatrical tappers, incorporating jazz, ballet and ballroom moves for sweeping and elegant dances that enthralled theater patrons and moviegoers in such films as “Kiss Me Kate,” “Top Hat”  and “Singin’ in the Rain.”
  • Happy Feet
    Gregory Hines tapped his way into the 21st century as a dancer, actor, musician, director, and the brainchild behind improvised tap choreography. Hines is remembered for improvisational tap in which he played around with tap steps, rhythmic drum beats and tap sounds.
  • Savion Glover was discovered, performed the lead in a Broadway play and was nominated for a Tony® Award all by the time he was 12 years old. His sharp, pounding technique is called “hitting.” He was a child prodigy who starred in “Jelly’s Last Jam,” choreographed and starred in “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk” and choreographed Mumble, the CGI penguin in “Happy Feet.”

FUN FACT:

Dein Perry choreographed the tap sequence “Eternity” for the 2000 Olympics opening ceremony in Sydney, Australia. The sequence featured 1300 dancers!

Tap Dogs

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. In addition to dance, what other forms of expression can you think of that highlight aspects from different cultures?
  2. Dein Perry was inspired by his experiences as a construction worker to create “Tap Dogs.” What experiences have most inspired you?
  3. Why do you think Dein Perry named the show “Tap Dogs?”

LEARN MORE ABOUT “TAP DOGS”

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