Now hear this

Guest post by Jenefer Miller

Recently, I dragged myself out of my house early in the morning to see a student perform her tap solo that I choreographed at a competition. I was excited to see her perform for the first time. Everyone was. This little 10 year old rocks (truly). I got there just in time. She walks onto stage and performs her routine flawlessly. Adorable. She dances as strong as many 16 year olds. Her smile is infectious. Her sounds? Well, we couldn’t hear them at all. I quickly look around. Sound guy? Check. He’s there. Mic’s? Check. They are there. Power to the mics? None.

I get that it was 8am on a Sunday and there were no other tap soloists, but this tap dancer paid her $140 to be there just the same as any other dancer. What if the contemporary soloist who went on after her had the lights go out on her? What would happen then? Would that soloist get to perform one more time with light? Or would we say- “that’s too bad”?

I’ve seen countless posts about competitions and tap. Flooring. Mics. No mics. Judges who don’t get tap. Judges who do. What tap shoes to buy. The list goes on and on. I did politely ask the staff to make sure those mics were on for the rest of the day so any other student who took the stage could be heard. But fancy me this. If the competition companies are going to offer tap as a category, shouldn’t they also supply the right equipment to make it happen? I propose that comps put all of the tap routines at either the beginning or end of the weekend and allow tap dancers to perform on the floor before the marley is laid out. Allow the tap dancers the opportunity to perform on a stage that truly “lights up” the audiences’ ear. If the comps are going to light the dancers, they need to supply sound for the tap dancers.

By Denise Caston-Clark

Hi! I'm Denise Caston-Clark, a professional dancer, choreographer and dance educator. I am a former Radio City Rockette and currently direct Tap Dance Detroit and the annual Motor City Tap Fest.

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