Jane Goldberg is a “rara avis”: a dancer who is also a writer. She has been one of the most prolific voices in the field of tap dancing for the past four decades.
In 1972, after graduating as a political science major from Boston University, she saw the dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and was soon studying tap dancing. She began ferreting out many of the remaining entertainment greats of the 20th century. She became good friends with the late Gregory Hines, the actor/singer/tap dancer, as well as his chronicler.
This was a totally unique period of tap history where some of its originators and veterans in their 60s, 70s and 80s had not been documented and Goldberg started with small grants for her “By Word of Foot” festivals and performances throughout the United States and Europe to preserve their work, reconstruct their original routines and catch them on video before they died shortly after.
By the 1980s, Goldberg had apprenticed herself to many of these old hoofers, while at the same time, interviewing and documenting their work on audio as well as video. These classic jazz dancers were at the time living virtually “underground,” considered practitioners of a “dying,” or at best, “lost” art form. At least, that was the official lore Goldberg heard about this uniquely American art.
Tap’s universal appeal attracted Japanese scholars, doctors, lawyers and “closet hoofers” to Goldberg’s underground quarters on Bleecker Street. She employed her newly developed “talking feet,” to pass down great steps and well-kept recipes from the originators.
As artistic director of Changing Times Tap Dance Company Inc., a non-profit preservation, promotion, and performing entity, begun in 1979, Goldberg began teaching at New York University for twenty years. She also brought tap for the first time to Jacob’s Pillow and the American Dance Festival, where tap hadn’t been seen in 37 and 18 years, respectively. Her company produced the first international festival, By Word of Foot in 1980, at the renowned NYC Village Gate. Her acclaimed memoir, “Shoot Me While I’m Happy: Memories from the Tap Goddess of The Lower East Side” with introduction by Gregory Hines, comes with a bonus DVD which highlights this celebration of teaching.
Her archives now reside at The New York Public Library’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; its full name is “Jane Goldberg’s Wandering Shoes, Tap (h) istory, Tip Top Tapes, Tapalogues, Tapology and Tapperabilia” is living testament to the future of tap. It is also listed under Changing Times Tap.
Known as “the hoofer with angst”, Goldberg has performed her comedy/tap act, Rhythm & Schmooze, “topical tap with running commentary over the feet,” in countless jazz, contemporary, and experimental venues throughout The United States, such as The Village Vanguard in NYC, The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and Harvard University in Boston. She is the recipient of two Fulbright Scholarships to India where she performed her highly idiosyncratic program throughout the subcontinent.