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.

 

2002 - Steve Condos (1918-1990) was acclaimed for lightning-speed and a phenomenal precision style tap dancing that perfectly suited the tempos and rhythms of swing and bebop. As the only Greek-American to be a member of the Copasetics, the famous tap fraternity named in honor of Bill Robinson, Condos' routines were melodies in themselves that led audiences through an explosive journey of steel-tipped percussion.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he spent his childhood years in South Philadelphia where he absorbed sounds of the streets and alleys behind his father's restaurant that was located across the street from the Standard Theatre, the largest black vaudeville house in town. As a child, his father sent him with sandwiches for the comics and dancers who worked there, and sometimes the dancers would bring him onstage.

By the time his family moved to New York City, he was a veteran street dancer steeped in the tradition of speed, rhythm, and precision that he had gotten in South Philly. As the youngest of three brothers, Steve's dancing style was conceived by his elder brother Frank, who he paired with at age fourteen and perfected with his middle brother Nick in an act billed as the Condos Brothers. During the thirties and forties, they spent most of their time in vaudeville, and then began to work with top swing bands. While brother Nick was expert at flash work (he is credited with inventing the five-tap wing), Steve concentrated on rhythm and surpassed nearly all his contemporaries with his phenomenal precision style of rhythm dance. As a lover of jazz, especially the music of Louis Armstrong but also Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker, Condos insisted that his tap routines be melodious as well as rhythmic.

Dancing with big bands of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, the routines that the Condos Brothers danced together were set but they insisted on improvising their solos so that every show was different and every show was a challenge. As the favorite dance team of Hollywood producer Daryl Zanuck, the Condos Brothers (Nick and Steve) became one of the most sought-after dance teams for films in the thirties and forties and always insisted on dubbing their own taps in such films as Wake Up and Live (1937), Happy Landing (1938), In the Navy (1941), Pin-Up Girl (1944), The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946), She’s Back on Broadway (1953). They were also a sensation abroad, holding the longest record at London’s famous Palladium with the Crazy Gang by playing for an entire year.

As a soloist, Steve danced with Woody Herman’s big band, as well as with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Buddy Rich at the Apollo Theatre. His Broadway appearances include Heaven on Earth, Say Darling, and in 1972, Sugar, where he created the role of Spats Palazzo, the tap dancing gangster; in that show, Gower Champion gave him the unheard of liberty of improvising his steps nightly in his solo spot. Featured in the movie, Tap! (1988), starring Gregory Hines, Steve also appeared with Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. on the Tonight Show, competing in a coast-to-coast tap challenge dance. In 1989, he performed in an historic performance at Carnegie Hall with Hines, Arthur Duncan, Savion Glover, Jimmy Slyde, Brenda Bufalino, Lynn Dally and members of Jazz Tap Ensemble. A stellar performer, Steve was also a superb teacher, and had the unique ability to break down and teach what he had improvised.

 

Unknown Writer & Tony Waag