MELANIE MINTY: Surrey should back tap dancing, like other cities (with video)

SURREY — May 25 is International Tap Day. In the U.S., National Tap Day was declared by the senate in 1989 in recognition of the unique place of tap as an original American dance form and its impact in American culture, notably in Vaudeville, Broadway and film. May 25 was chosen for the date, as it is the birthday of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the recognized grandfather of tap. It didn’t take long for National Tap Day to expand to international levels, and now celebrations can be found worldwide. Pretty impressive.

West Coast Tap Dance Collective, a Vancouver-based organization, was founded in March 2003 – Small beginnings, with a handful of dedicated tap dancers. My dancing daughter was one of the founding members, and it didn’t take her too long to convince me to join the board of directors. After 10 years, I am still on the board. It is a privilege to mix and mingle with professionals and gifted amateurs.

The collective, in just a few short years, has been successful at having tap day officially recognized in New Westminster, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Vancouver and the province of British Columbia. It should be recognized in Surrey, too – don’t you think so, Linda, Judy, Barbara, and Judy? Call me.

One of the goals of West Coast Tap Dance Collective is to get Tap Day nationally recognized in Canada. We are working on it, and the collective’s annual Tap Day celebration is becoming so well known, it is just a matter of finding a government official who sees tap dancing as an important art form.

Currently in Canada, tap dancing is not recognized as an art form, which means funding from the government to the arts is not available for tap dancing. Seriously. Well, moving on.

The 2015 Tap Day Celebration hosted by West Coast Tap Dance Collective is this Sunday, May 24, at Massey Theatre in New Westminster.

Every year, the collective honours a Canadian who has made a significant contribution to the art of tap dancing. This year’s honouree is Canadian tapper Ruby Keeler. Are you too young to know who Ruby Keeler is? Or, if you know, did you know she was born in Halifax on Aug. 25, 1910?

At a young age, Keeler moved with her family to New York. She started taking dance lessons at age 10 and learned to tap dance. At 13, she began her show-business career in the chorus line of the George M. Cohan Broadway production of The Rise of Rosie O’Reilly, in 1923. Keeler travelled to Hollywood, made some films and married Al Jolson.

In her 1933 debut, 42nd Street, Keeler played a chorus girl suddenly sent onstage to replace the ailing lead dancer, the director urging her on with the immortal lines, “You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” 42nd Street has hit Vancouver stages many times, and is, for most of us, the iconic tap dancing show.

(column continues below video of Ruby Keeler)

 

The collective’s Tap Day show is a must-see this year, with MC Teryl Rothery and top Canadian tap dancers, including Aaron Tolson. Also, Keeler’s daughters will join us for the celebration. Us. Yes, I did say us. For the first time ever, I will actually be on stage performing with my tap group. So, buy tickets to the show – I want a full house. Tickets can be purchased online at Masseytheatre.com. I will know if you are there or not. I have friends.

One my tap friends is Margaret Sampson. She is also a member of Westcoast Harmony Chorus. She will be on stage with me, so I wanted to salute her choral group. Westcoast won two gold medals at the recent Sweet Adelines regional competition held here in Surrey. They received their best score ever: 650. They are currently in first place worldwide for mid-size choruses – not bad at all. Congrats. The next regional competition is in Saskatoon.

Westcoast, by the way, holds weekly rehearsals in North Surrey, at Parkland Fellowship Baptist Church, 9574 160th St., every Wednesday from 7:15 to 10:15 p.m. For details, email membership@westcoastsings.com.

melminty@telus.net

 

Just Posted

Team BC’s having fun, ‘feeling good’ about back-to-back victories

A junior curling team, based out of Langley, has yet to lose a game in the national championships.

Dr. Lipjob avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Surrey farmers taking stock of revamped Canada Food Guide

Products that were once big at the table — like meat and dairy — have been put on the back-burner

VIDEO: ‘The dog picks the job’: Meet the newest member of the Surrey RCMP

Cambria, a labrador-golden retriever mix, is the first victim services dog at the detachment

Cloverdale’s Dan Gibbons remembered for his devotion, humour

Longtime local served with RCMP for more than 35 years

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Teravainen’s 3 points lift Hurricanes to 5-2 win over Canucks

Vancouver heads into all-star break on losing note

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Richmond businesses struggle to hire and keep staff because of high cost of housing

Chamber of commerce calls for diverse housing options, redevelopment of George Massey corridor

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

Most Read