Three years ago, after a giving a presentation I call “My First Tap Dance Teacher was a Tuskegee Airman”, several students came to me asking, “Mrs. Branstiter, do you still tap-dance?”
“Heavens, no!” I answered. “I haven’t tap-danced for 32 years!”
Then, I couldn’t help wondering: Could I even do it anymore? Is age 55 too old to tap-dance?
So, I challenged myself. I got a cheap pair of tap shoes and discovered that I remember all the basic steps: the flap, shuffle, ball-change, etc.! And, I knew that there were students on my campus who would never have the opportunity to take tap-dance lessons at a high-priced studio.
I decided to offer an after school club to teach tap-dance in the second semester. This will be my third year to do so. For the first year, I taught a dance to Stray-Cat Strut– the quintessential tap-dance song. Last year, I upgraded my tap shoes and we danced to Boogie Shoes. This year, I have something special in mind- a song by a graduate of Crowley ISD, Leon Bridges, who has burst onto the music scene with his stylin’ retro rhythm and blues:
It’s gonna be sweeeeeet.
I’m 57 now. I wonder if you can still tap-dance when you’re sixty. I hope to find out!
Here is an extended video interview with Les Williams, my first tap-dance teacher and Tuskegee Airman, recorded just a few years before his death in 2015: