Tapilosophy: Gregory Hines to Jane
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A Little of Gregory's 'Future of Tap'
Context: Gregory Hines was 57 when he died on August 9, 2003, and toward the end of his life, he devoted a good part of his emails to the young tap dancers of the future. HE WAS ALWAYS ABOUT KEEPING TAP MOVING FORWARD. He was changing in leaps and flaps towards the end of his life as reflected in his emails.
The following , in no particular order, reflect his inclusiveness.
Subject:Re: Rollin’ to 57
Date:Friday, 15 Feb 2002, 13:42:01
I thought I’d already sent this to you yesterday, but hey… maybe this age thing is getting to me after all!!
As with most trends in the tap world of the young, ‘twas Savion who first coined the phrase “I need to get some Footage”… I think the first time he said it to me was back in ‘93 or ‘94… He wanted to do a show with young dancers dancing in front of “Footage” of as many masters as he could get, matching the masters step for step… I suspect that over the years he's collected a lot of “Footage” and the followers want to emulate him as much as they can… I mean, there's always someone who hoards their pot, but for the most part, the majority of folks are always ready to share the high… I'm sure that's the way it is with everything in life… Most share – some don't…!!
I think this… right now… is the toughest time ever to be a young person… …I'm just so happy they have tap to help ‘em through it… yeah… I know a lot of them ain’t never really heard “Beguine”… so I'm glad they're hearing it now and watching their champion dance on it… they'll learn… and what could be better for them than to hang and feel and steal from Buster and “Phace” and you… It's all good for them to be in the same environment with their shoes on and their ears open…
…As for “Bombing?”… shit… lord knows I've been there… and learned from it every time… I learned that I hated it… But I also learned that even as I knew I was in “Mid-Bomb”… I wouldn't pander to the audience to try to pull myself out of it… Fuck it… I’d just “Full-Bomb” and look for another stage on another night to get my confidence back up… and it always proved well worth the wait Jane…!!
Hey… Kubrick just bombed with this last one…(Eyes Wide Shut) some of his previous stuff’ll make it better for us… not for him… but for us…
…I think he knew, before he left us, that it was a piece of shit… He was a great artist… he knew he'd bombed with “EWS”…!!
Circa:Tuesday, 14 Sept 1999, 21:24:48
tg (tap goddess)–
I wanna know what tappers feel… what they think… and I’ve always liked to listen to folks talk… ‘Cause if they talk long enough, I get a real take on what they DON’T know… I also know that the folks in that piece don't get interviewed all that much… They’re not used to it… so… they all (‘sept Buster) got a bit too focused on themselves and not the art… I have a suspicion that the principals, upon reading their own words, might learn something from the whole thing…
As for the Hilton Als story on Richard Pryor…(the New Yorker) I actually saw that Lily Tomlin special and I remember being so incredibly moved by the “Juke & Opal” skit… It was so powerful Jane… And having long been a fan of Pryor’s work, I found myself blown away by Lily Tomlin… and the great chemistry between the two of them… And the kiss at the end… Pure TV History… Repeated… Because Dinah Shore had already kissed Harry Belafonte on TV about eight years pryor [sic]… (no pun intended)…
Date:Thursday, 1 Feb 2001
I've read and reread your last email to me and I do feel differently now… You're right… This world is so intent on finding a #1… “Who's the best?”… And the Winner is…? …I’ve bought onto it because I've always had strong opinions on subjects I felt passionate about… And because I can be sheep too… And because in my time, I've been chosen by some as a #1 in my field… And that felt good… I can't honestly say in my heart I ever believed it, but it did feel real good to know someone thought it…
But it is true, Jane, what you said about limiting the field… To focus on a #1 dilutes the attention on the whole… It causes everyone who can do any good for the art…(any art)… To chase the #1 and pass right by the many worthy artists who are relegated to #2 on…
Thank you Jane… For helping to turn my shit around and being patient with me around this issue… I love Savion’s dancing… I just love it Jane… And I've so enjoyed watching his growth… And that love has blinded me to a degree… Thank you for helping to open my eyes…
Subject:Re: I’m gonna stop trying to “work my stuff” out on you
Date:Tuesday, 29 Feb 2000, 15:28:11
Those dancers whom Dorothy [Wasserman, the Dorthy Shim Sham] feels are BS (Before Savion), just need to be encouraged Jane… encouraged to learn more about how to express themselves with the art… to grow to the point where they can better see the possibilities inherent in their art… Some are just trying to fool people and “get by,” without the slightest desire to really improve… But there are others who, though in the BS at the moment, just need to be shown a bit of light, a few challenging steps, and exposed to the concept of “woodshedding”… I feel that the more AS (After Savion) dancers we have the more helpers we have for the BS’ers…
My aim is to try to be helpful in bringing as much truth and respect to the family of tap dancers as I can in the time I have allotted to me here… I see us all in a great family Jane… Where we need to give respect to all even while being aware of who the leaders and followers are… Recently, while in Las Vegas visiting my mother's husband…[widowed]… I took him out to dinner at the PF Chang's there;, no sooner do we sit down than Tommy Tune strolls up to our table and gives me a big greeting and a hug… Well…as I hugged him, I felt as much respect and admiration for him as I would for Savion… Or Dianne… Or Fred Strickler… or You… and it felt good to feel that way… it felt right too, and for me, I don't know Jane… maybe it's my mother's passing, but I do feel much more open to and accepting of, what everyone is trying to do or say in Tap Dancing… There’s so much room baby… room for everybody… Some don't need any help… some need pushing… and some need pulling… So, sometimes I leave ‘em alone… sometimes I push and sometimes I pull… but I could give the kind of sensitive, constructive feedback to tap dancers that would serve to boost them in ways they so need to be boosted, so they can grow and find themselves.
As far as conservatism goes… tap dancers take a risk the first time they put the shoes on… from that point on it's more about growing as a person and as an artist and getting the encouragement to take more and more risks… it's a journey… Love ‘em for putting the shoes on Jane and encourage ‘em to get out there and risk something… encourage ‘em to tap fantastically, thrillingly, adventurously, surprisingly, brilliantly, breathtakingly, fantabulously, and unexpectedly… Help ‘em get there and be patient ‘til they get there.
Thanks to Valerie Baloga for help with transcription.Newer Gregory Emails Posts » « Older Gregory Emails Posts