Thursdays in Review

On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art or design and study the language used in them. This week’s article is about the importance of tap, featuring dancers Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Jason Samuels Smith, and Derick K. Grant.

Here are three paragraphs from Dance Magazine, in italics.

In the 20-plus years since they’ve known each other, Smith, Sumbry-Edwards and Grant, who interact with the ease of siblings, have emerged as some of their generation’s most passionate tap ambassadors and among the most exciting performers in dance.

Sumbry-Edwards is known for her elegance and precision, Grant exhibits uncanny power and lightness, and Smith is lauded for his suaveness and attack. (Shoe brands have taken note of their reputation and influence: Sumbry-Edwards represents Capezio, Grant is an ambassador for Só Dança, and Smith has designed a tap shoe for Bloch. “I couldn’t even afford tap shoes when I was growing up,” Smith says in disbelief.)

This May, the three co-directed the first annual Tap Family Reunion in New York, a three-day celebration of National Tap Dance Day. Events spanned the city, honoring New York’s contribution to tap and the city’s tap landmarks, like the Apollo Theater, the Minskoff Theatre (where the acclaimed blues, jazz and tap revue Black and Blue ran on Broadway from 1989 to 1991) and the Tree of Hope in Harlem, now a sculpture representing an elm that Robinson used to rub for good luck. “We’re trying to elevate the general tap community’s consciousness,” Smith says.


My comments:

At the start of the first paragraph, we see the phrase 20-plus years, which means more than 20 years. The sentence goes on to say that these dancers interact with the ease of siblings. Siblings are brothers and sisters, so the writer means they are close, like family. The writer calls them their generation’s most passionate tap ambassadors. A generation is a group of people born and living at the same time, so your parents are a different generation than you, and so are your grandparents or children. An ambassador is a person who speaks for their group to others, so the writer is saying that these three tap dancers are some of the most important voices of their age group.

In the second paragraph, we learn more about the dancers themselves. We see that Grant exhibits uncanny power and lightness, which means he shows (exhibits) amazing (uncanny) power and lightness. In this situation, the writer means lightness like the dancer is light on his feet. We see that Smith is lauded for his suaveness and attack. Lauded means praised or celebrated, and in this situation, attack means his dancing style is powerful or has a lot of energy.

Next, we learn that these dancers all work with different shoe brands, and we see the phrase take(n) note, which means to notice something. Reputation means the opinion other people have about you, and influence means the power you have to get other people to do something. Smith talks about designing shoes for Bloch, and the writer says he is in disbelief (he can’t believe it). He feels amazed that he is designing shoes because when he was young, he couldn’t afford tap shoes, which means he didn’t have enough money to buy them.

In the third paragraph, we learn that these dancers directed an annual (happening every year) celebration of tap dancing. Span is a verb that means to cover a large area, so the events happened all over the city. New York City is an important place in this history of tap dancing, and that’s what the writer means when he says the celebration is honoring New York’s contribution to tap and the city’s tap landmarks. The celebration is in New York to honor its place in history. A landmark is a place where something important happened, and the writer gives examples of some of New York’s tap landmarks.

Harlem is a New York neighborhood that is famous for African-American culture, history, and performers. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was a very famous tap dancer that was mentioned earlier in this article, and that’s why the Tree of Hope sculpture was made to remember a tree he rubbed for good luck. In the last sentence, Smith says that “We’re trying to elevate the general tap community’s consciousness,” which means they want the tap dancing community to raise their awareness (elevate their consciousness) and celebrate tap more.

Sometimes it can be difficult to read about and understand a style, or culture, or genre of art that you are not familiar with. A good language coach can give you more context about the culture and history of the art you’re studying to help you understand what you are reading or learning about. This can lead to an even greater knowledge of your medium.


At Artglish, we help artists and designers to describe their work with the best vocabulary and language possible. Every Thursday we study reviews and articles to share useful words and phrases to help you improve your reading and writing skills. If you want to learn more, click here to join The Studio and try some free ways to improve your English, or check out our Lessons page to learn how Artglish can help you succeed.

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

To read the original article, written by Brian Schaefer on May 10, 2018, click the link below:
https://www.dancemagazine.com/best-tap-dancers-2567116098.html

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Jessica

I help artists and designers with their English so they can focus on being creative and changing the world.

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