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Independent beats to global feet: the evolution of English tap jams
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training  (IF),  Pub Date : 2022-01-05, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2021.1954078
Sally Crawford-Shepherd

This article maps the evolution of early tap jams in twenty-first century England from twentieth century tap jams in the United States. Tap jams are informal performance events featuring improvised tap dance and live music. Historically, tap jams in the United States provided tap dancers the opportunity to train with mentors and cultivate improvisation skills within a social context to enhance their employability. This article explores how the English tap jams evolved, and how English tap dancers use improvisation at the tap jams to develop their performance skills outside of a Western dance studio environment. While the format of English tap jams reflects the American events, the intention has shifted. Utilising a symbolic interactionist approach, the English tap jams showcase how improvisation is a process of physical and musical interactions that produce constantly evolving relationships between community members, musicians, and the audience. The English tap jams act as both a performance opportunity and social event that allows individuals to shape their onstage identity and their role within the tap community. The article also investigates how the English tap jams are adapting to digital platforms in the current global pandemic.