Jane Goldberg: The Tap Goddess of the Lower East Side
If you are looking for a tap dancer who can make you laugh, cry and learn, look no further than Jane Goldberg. She is a comedian, writer, historian and one of the key architects of the tap renaissance of the 1970s. She has been performing, teaching and writing about tap for over 50 years, and she is not slowing down anytime soon.
In this article, we will explore the life and work of Jane Goldberg, who has been called “the Tap Goddess of the Lower East Side” by The New York Times. We will also learn about her book, her company, her museum and her awards.
From Journalist to Tap Dancer
Jane Goldberg was born in Washington, DC in 1948. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in political science in 1972. She started her career as a journalist, writing for The Boston Globe, The Patriot Ledger, The Village Voice, Dance Magazine and The New York Times, among other publications.
But her life changed when she saw the dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on TV. She was mesmerized by their elegance, grace and rhythm. She decided to take up tap dancing as a hobby, and soon became obsessed with it. She studied with some of the legends of tap, such as Honi Coles, Cookie Cook, Bubba Gaines, Bert ‘Gip’ Gibson and Chuck Green.
She also discovered the rich history and culture of tap, which had been marginalized and neglected for decades. She became fascinated by the stories and styles of the African American tap masters who had shaped the art form. She interviewed, worked with and learned from many of them, such as John Bubbles, Baby Laurence, Bunny Briggs, Sandman Sims and Gregory Hines.
The Changing Times Tap Dance Company
In 1979, Jane Goldberg founded the Changing Times Tap Dance Company (CTTDC), one of the first all-women tap ensembles in history. The company was dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of tap dancing through performances, workshops and lectures. The company also featured live music by jazz musicians and vocalists.
The CTTDC performed at various venues across the US and abroad, such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Village Vanguard, Chappaqua Arts Center and Lincoln Center. The company also collaborated with other artists and groups, such as Meredith Monk, Steve Reich and Urban Bush Women.
The CTTDC was instrumental in bringing tap dancing back to the mainstream attention and appreciation. The company also inspired a new generation of female tap dancers who followed in their footsteps.
Shoot Me While I’m Happy
In 2008, Jane Goldberg published her memoir “Shoot Me While I’m Happy: Memories of The Tap Goddess of the Lower East Side”. The book is a collection of anecdotes, photos and essays that chronicle her personal and professional journey as a tap dancer and historian. The book also features a foreword by the late Gregory Hines, who was a friend and mentor to Jane.
The book is a candid and humorous account of Jane’s adventures in the world of tap. She shares her experiences of learning from the masters, performing on various stages, traveling around the globe and meeting celebrities like Woody Allen, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Bill Cosby. She also reveals her struggles with sexism, racism and ageism in the industry.
The book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in tap dancing or dance history. It is also a testament to Jane’s passion, perseverance and personality.
The Traveling Tap Museum
Jane Goldberg is not only a performer and a writer but also a collector. She has amassed a large collection of tap memorabilia over the years,
such as shoes, costumes, posters, books and recordings. She calls it her Traveling Tap Museum (TTM).
The TTM is a mobile exhibition that showcases the history and diversity of tap dancing. It features items from different eras and genres of tap,
such as vaudeville, Broadway, Hollywood, jazz and hip hop. It also displays items from some of the most influential tap dancers of all time,