International Tap Dance Hall of Fame

 

The International Tap Dance Hall of Fame is the only tap dance hall of fame exclusively focused on tap dancers. It features founding and innovative

20th and 21st century professional tap dancers. With a collection of photographs, biographies, and videos, the Hall of Fame

is becoming a colorful and diverse retrospective of America's seminal tap dance personalities.

 

2016 - The Copasetics, the tap fraternity of largely African-American tap dancers, were organized on December 5, 1949, in the wake of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who died in New York City on November 25, 1949. The Preamble to the Copasetics Club stated itself as a "social, friendly, benevolent club," its members pledged "to do all in their power to promote fellowship and to strengthen the character within their ranks." The name of the club was taken from Robinson's famous catchword, "Everything's Copasetic," meaning everything's fine, or tip-top. The original twenty-one members included Cholly Atkins, Peg Leg Bates, Paul Black, pianist Paul Branker, Ernest Brown, Charles Honi Coles (who became the organization's first president), Chink Collins, Charles Cook, Emery Evans, fraternal twins Francis and Frank Goldberg, trumpeter Milton Larkin, LeRoy Myers, Pete Nugent, Luther Preston, Henry Phace Roberts, John E. Thomas, James Walker, Elmer Waters, Eddie West, and composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn, who was president from the early 1950s until his death in 1967. The Copasetics remained a vital social force in the Harlem community with boat cruises, annual balls, and charitable performances. In large part, they remained in isolation from a world that, in the 1950s and 1960s, had turned its back on tap dance and turned its attention to ballet and modern dance on the Broadway stage.

 

Subsequent members included Louis Brown, Louis Simms Carpenter, Leon Collins, William Chink Collins, Harold Cromer, Steve Condos, James "Stumpy" Cross, Billy Ekstein, Albert "Gip" Gibson, Norman Gilliam, orchestra leader Milton "Tippy" Larkin, Chink Lee, Jan Micken, Charles Pendleton, Timmy Rogers, and Charles "Chazz" Young. Honorary members of the Copasetics included Peg Leg Bates, Sammy Davis, Jr., Redd Fox, Dick Cavett, Chuck Green, and the Nicholas Brothers (Fayard and Harold).

 

With the reemerging popularity of tap dance in the 1970s and 80s, the now veteran Copasetics were suddenly in demand as teachers and performers throughout the United States and Europe, and the club began performing as a group. As a result of their excellence in performing and technical skills, future tappers inherited standards by which to define what tap dance had been and set foundation for tap's future. The group became the living repository of tap history, and from their ranks came most of the teachers of the next generation.

Constance Valis Hill

Sources: Constance Valis Hill, Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History (2010); Tap Dance in America: A Twentieth-Century Chronology of Tap on Stage, Screen, and Media, by Constance Valis Hill (Library of Congress http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/html/tda/tda-home.html.