By Maquette Reeverts | Alberta Art Works
Tap dance is an indigenous American dance genre that evolved over 300 years. In the 1700s, the Irish jig fused with the West African gioube to become “jigging.”
When slave owners took away traditional African percussion instruments, slaves turned to percussive dancing to express themselves and retain their cultural identities. Jigging was later refined for public entertainment and called tap.
The form of entertainment is honored with “National Tap Dance Day” on May 25, signed into law in 1989 by George H.W. Bush.
Twenty-eight-year neighbor Michael Conley, known as MC Shoehorn, is our very own tap master. As an exchange student in Peru his Peruvian “brother” played banjo and guitar while he played harmonica.
“I always listened to my footsteps when I would practice.” That led him to purchase an old pair of shoes at a thrift store and add taps.
MC Shoehorn now plays 12 instruments, has recorded 10 CDs and invented an electronic instrument that allows him to play additional instruments with his feet while he plays his saxophone and taps.
Performing spontaneously with no set routine, he improvises through blues, jazz, rock, world music and his own compositions.
MC Shoehorn started out busking on the streets of New Orleans and performed at Alberta Street’s very first Last Thursday in 1997. He plays at festivals and fairs, with local bands, school assemblies and other events, and he has toured Russia and Austria to share his passion for rhythms.
MC Shoehorn teaches his craft and is planning outdoor lessons for all ages this summer. Find out more at ShoehornMusic.com.
Michel Reeverts, aka Maquette , holds a master of arts degree in art education, serves Alberta Art Works as director and Alberta Street Gallery as a board member. She is also a practicing artist. Contact her at Maquette@AlbertaArtWorks.org.