Is Tap Dancing Obsolete?

After watching a 1930s movie with Hal Le Roy, the tall thin tap dancer with the flashing feet, I looked for other tap dancers.  Those old movie musicals always seem to include one – Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bill Robinson, Ann Miller, Eleanor Powell, Donald O’Connor…the International Tap Association lists over 70 tap legends – not many still alive.

In the movie, Le Roy’s character, Harold Teen, learned how to tap dance through the mail.  Today, the Masters of American Dance offer a website  with instructional tap video lessons. You’ll need to have a basic background to learn the dances, but they sure are fun to watch.

My search for more on tap dancing led me to Linda Sue Park’s Tap Dancing on the Roof,  a book of Sijo poems (traditional Korean poetry with a fixed number of syllables like a haiku – but with a surprise at the end).  Park, a Newbery winner for A Single Shard, includes historical information as well as tips for writing a sijo.  The poem “Long Division” gives the book its title…

“this number gets a wall and a ceiling. Nice and comfy in there.

But a bunch of other numbers are about to disrupt the peace –

bumping the wall, digging up the cellar, tap dancing on the roof.”

Final Jeopardy Answer

The game show Jeopardy gave a nod to Poetry Month yesterday with its final Jeopardy question:

Who said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation?”

Answer: Robert Frost

In his 1931 essay “Education by Poetry” – delivered at Amherst College – Frost wrote:

Then there is a literary belief.  Every time a poem is written, every time a short story is written, it is written not by cunning, but by belief.  The beauty, the something, the little charm of the thing to be, is more felt than known.

Rather than dissecting a poem, Frost would have you find its meaning in yourself.

William Wordsworth’s birthday was yesterday (April 7th).  Here’s one of his shorter poems – what does it mean to you?  It reminds me that Earth Day is coming.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us: late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

 

Liu’s book includes Wordsworth’s poems about nature, among them “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud” and “It’s a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free” – with illustrated scenes by James Muir to complement the poetry.