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Black History Month


Musical uses tap dancing to celebrate black history

They stole our drums
Now where ’da beat?
… beats be ’da beat singin’
Rhythm to our feet
Makes the sad soul right happy
Be ’da way dat we speak.

— "Somethin’ From Nothin’ " from "Bring In ’Da Noise, Bring In ’Da Funk"

The Tony Award-winning "Bring In ’Da Noise, Bring In ’Da Funk" is a performance of energetic tap dancing that celebrates the history of African Americans in America. Conceived and directed by George C. Wolfe and choreographed by Savion Glover, this breakthrough musical started as a workshop during the summer of 1995 at The Public Theater in New York, where it originally opened. It transferred to Broadway in April 1996 and reopened to nine Tony Award nominations and sell-out crowds. The show nabbed four Tonys that year, including awards for Wolfe and Glover.

According to the show’s Commemorative Journal, Wolfe said he "wanted to see how tap could not just tell stories but how it could really convey really complicated emotion. …With this show, we didn’t want to bang people on the head with history but to explore what history truly is: an incredibly intimate phenomenon. History doesn’t happen to cultures. It doesn’t happen to races. It happens to people."

The production is now touring nationally and made a recent stop in Pittsburgh. Facts about the musical include: Performers go through 40 bottles of water per performance; the life span of a pair of tap shoes is three weeks; number of drumsticks used/destroyed per performance is four to six; youngest tour cast member is 15 years old; each dancer wears microphones on his or her ankles, a total of 10 ankle microphones; the cast has endured 550 hours of physical therapy since the Broadway debut.

— By Alyson Hudson


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