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Tap
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Tap Maven Jane Goldberg's Forthcoming book "Shoot Me While I'm Happy" Provides Eyewitness Account into Living the Tap Life

by Jane Goldberg
September 2, 2008
For more information, or to order the book, go to www.janegoldberg.org.
The world of tap dance has never been explored more thoroughly—nor in such an intimate, witty, and astute style—than in the pages of Shoot Me While I'm Happy (Woodshed Productions), by New York writer/dancer, Jane Goldberg, set for international release October 1, 2008.

Jane Goldberg offers an insider's view of a truly American art form. Her deep connection with tap comes from years of performing and talking with such luminaries as her late friend Gregory Hines (a moral force throughout the book), Sammy Davis, Jr., Savion Glover, Ginger Rogers, Honi Coles, Cookie Cook, Buster Brown, Sandman Sims. She draws on interviews conducted over thirty years, illustrating her book with photos from her vast archive, many of which have never been published before. Her chapter titles leap off the page: "Years Ago It Was Heel and Toe," "Ginger Rogers: Dancing is Just Dessert," "Hollywood and Trading Eights," "Sammy Groupie," "Comparaholics Anonymous," "Miami Danny Rose," and "A Cutting Session with Gregory Hines," to name a few. Her writing is infused with the rhythm and force of a triple time step.

But Shoot Me While I'm Happy is not simply a history of tap; it is a report from the frontlines during a time of transformation and creativity, when new ideas redefined what was once considered "a lost art." Goldberg's interest in the subject grew out of her coming of age in the 1960s, when tap was emerging from the decline it experienced in the years after World War II.

A key player in the revival of this largely unrecorded style of dance, Goldberg examines what caused tap to languish and how the countercultural demand for art that was "real" fueled a revival in the1970s. The book also explores tap's relationship to jazz, and its modern-day emergence in the popular culture, highlighted by Savion Glover's choreography for the hugely successful Academy-
Award-winning movie, Happy Feet. A DVD of Goldberg's 1980 festival By Word of Foot and excerpts from her act "Rhythm & Schmooze" is included as a bonus.

Part memoir, part essay, with an introduction by the late Gregory Hines, the book embeds tap in an eyewitness account of bohemian life as it was lived in a New York City that no longer exists. For questions and interviews with Ms. Goldberg, please contact Woodshed Productions via phone: 646-334-5726 or email woodshedproductions@yahoo.com.



An introduction to the book:

This is not a history of tap dancing.

It is a personal story of what it was like tracking down, studying and performing with some of the tap greats during the 1970's and 80's and then creating my own take on the art. The writer Molly McQuade once told me the contemporary history of tap dancing is the history of individual dancers. We don't have a vaudeville circuit or nightclub-booking agents to set up our gigs. It has been up to each of us to forge ahead, inventing our own venues, performances, and stories.

For the most part, tap has been passed down orally and aurally, voice to voice, feet to feet, sound to sound. In 1973, 30's dresses, brass beds, and Twyla Tharp dances were all the rage. I began going to movie revival houses to see the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals. Tap, it seemed to me, was the most direct route to finding a partner like Astaire.

It's been almost forty years since the Summer of Love. Journalist Todd Gitlin writes about nostalgia meaning homesickness, how the celebration of the past becomes a way to express opposition in the present. When I was taking up tap, like my sixties cohorts, I didn't view it nostalgically. We were searching for something genuine.

I was a journalist coming off the anti-war movement writing about Cesar Chavez' lettuce boycott and women's issues. The most profound influence on my life at that time was my professor from Boston University, Howard Zinn, who told me, "If you can't liberate the world, you must liberate the ground upon which you stand."

I forever gave up my rollers, let my hair go naturally curly again, and looked up "tap" in the Boston yellow pages. Soon I liberated the ground upon which I stood and began to study tap dancing.

Photo © & courtesy of Jane Goldberg

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