George McFadden was a world-renowned tap dancer, especially famous for his innovative tap style mixed with jazz.
George McFadden was born in Bell, Georgia. His family then moved to Maine, where he grew up. After seeing Bill Robinson perform, George McFadden began tap lessons at age 12 at The New England Conservatory of Music.George McFadden began touring with big bands in clubs throughout the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, performing regularly with both Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In the 1960s, after work temporarily dried up in the United States, he moved to Paris and danced in Europe for six years.
George McFadden’s profile in the United States revived noticeably in the 1980s. He danced in the films The Cotton Club, Tap, and Round Midnight, as well as a number of television specials. He collaborated with Steve Condos on a program of jazz tap improvisation at the Smithsonian Institution and performed across the United States and in South America.
George McFadden continued performing and teaching throughout the United States late into his life, stressing the importance of mastering the basics and using sliding cascades of taps close to the floor.
Alexander McFadden is also involve in tap as a instructor he talks about how to tap dance is a form of dance characterized by using the sound of one’s tap shoes hitting the floor as a percussive instrument. As such, it is also commonly considered to be a form of music. Two major variations on tap dance exist: rhythm (Jazz) tap and Broadway tap. Broadway tap focuses more on the dance. It is widely performed as a part of musical theater. Rhythm tap focuses more on musicality, and practitioners consider themselves to be a part of the Jazz tradition.
The sound is made by shoes with a metal “tap” on the heel and toe. Tap shoes can be bought at most dance shops. There are different brands of shoes which sometimes differ in the way they sound.
“Soft-Shoe” is a rhythm form of tap dancing that doesn’t require special shoes, and while rhythm is generated by tapping of the feet, it also uses sliding of the feet (even sometimes using scattered sand on the stage to enhance the sound of the performer’s sliding feet) more often than modern rhythm tap. It preceded what is currently considered to be modern tap, but has since declined in popularity.
In past times the shoes that were used for tap dancing had soles of leather or wood. The taps produced by today’s leading manufacturers are distinctive from one another. Most of the companies that produce tap shoes also produce the tap that comes with it, and each tap has a personality all of its own. Capezio’s Tele-Tone taps are moderate in both weight and tone. Leo’s Ultra tone toe tap is thicker and fills out the edge of the shoe more, but is a little clunky. So Danica taps are slightly convex and produce a bright upper-register tone.The metal used to make the taps varies, for instance Bloch techno heel tap shoes are made of specially formulated and composite alloy to create a distinct and rich sound. A soundboard is a thin, fiberboard that helps keep the metal attached to the sole. When the taps get loose the threads on the screws will catch and become retained in the fiberboard. Taps are usually screwed on to the shoes, and they can be loosened or tightened to produce different sounds. They can also be glued on with a good adhesive to insure that they stay in place. This will cause some tonal shift, perhaps more than the soundboard.
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