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 three 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.
By the 1980s, Goldberg had apprenticed herself to many of the old hoofers, while at the same time, interviewing and documenting their work. These classic jazz men 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.
Determined to prove the two myths wrong, Goldberg began teaching and was only a few steps ahead of her students in her Bleecker Street basement. The experimental choreographer/singer/writer, Meredith Monk, was in her first class, and Monk sent many apostate modern dancers Goldberg’s way. Tap’s universal appeal attracted Japanese scholars, doctors, lawyers and “closet hoofers” to Goldberg’s underground quarters as well. She employed her newly developed “talking feet”, to pass down great steps and secret recipes from the originators.
As artistic director of Changing Times Tap, a non-profit preservation, promotion, and performing entity, begun in 1979, Goldberg began teaching at New York University, and giving workshops and master classes to college and serious dance students. 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.
Some of her archives reside at The New York Public Library’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the Gregory Hines Collection. Her personal archives, “Jane Goldberg’s Wandering Shoes, Tap (h) istory, Tip Top Tapes, Tapalogues, Tapology and Tapperabilia” is living testament to the future of 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.
A Washington D.C. native, Goldberg spent her formative years as an investigative reporter and studying modern dance in D.C., Maryland, and Boston. She lives with the painter Owen Gray in New York City.