Good morning on this sunny-then-stormy Tuesday.
Honking cars and screeching subways are among the city’s most notable sounds.
But centuries ago, it was tap dancing.
New York was the tap capital as early as the 1800s.
The dance form’s origin is not well documented, according to Brian Seibert, the tap historian, New York Times dance critic and author of “What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing.” But over hundreds of years, he said, the genre developed as slaves’ traditions from Africa mixed with immigrants’ traditions from Europe (Ireland and Britain, in particular).
And from there, our city became what Mr. Seibert called a “petri dish” for the evolution of tap.
In the 1800s, tap appeared along the East River at Catherine Market, where slaves from Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island would congregate. “They were coming in to sell herbs and roots on their days off — they were allowed by their masters to do that — and they also had their dancing skills to sell,” Mr. Seibert said. “They’d put down pieces of wood they called shingles and do a jig and a breakdown for money.”
In the 1840s, tap moved to underground cellars around the Five Points area on the Lower East Side, “where people gambled, had liquor and danced,” Mr. Seibert said, “and that’s where a lot of the cultural mixing that produced tap dancing was happening.”
(It was there that the tap virtuoso William Henry Lane, known as Master Juba, got his start.)
The dance form became theatricalized in the decades that followed, moving gradually from minstrelsy to variety shows to vaudeville to Broadway musicals.
By the 1920s and ’30s, tap had moved with the African-American population from Five Points to the Tenderloin District (around what is now Hell’s Kitchen) to Harlem, Mr. Seibert explained. “Harlem becomes a center of African-American culture and the development of jazz, and tap is alongside that as a sibling form,” he said — “a dance form of jazz.”
But tap dancing lost momentum after the Second World War and never fully recovered. “There was a kind of renaissance or revival in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which it became something a bit different — more of an art dance or concert dance — and found a niche in the culture to survive,” Mr. Seibert said. Gregory Hines brought tap dancing back to movies and Broadway; more recently, his protégé Savion Glover and the “it-girl of dance festivals” Michelle Dorrance have given it new life, Mr. Seibert said.
“It used to be in every show in the 1920s to 1940s — you couldn’t escape tap dancing — and that’s nowhere near the case anymore,” Mr. Seibert said. “But it’s not anywhere near dead, and it’s still a thriving, changing form.”
Tap City, a tap dance festival with classes, public performances and other events, is taking place this week; “Fred and Ginger,” a retrospective presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is this weekend; and a new feature documentary about tap will debut at the Dance on Camera Festival next week.
Mr. Seibert can also be seen tapping along Seventh Avenue’s F-train subway platforms.
Here’s what else is happening:
A storm is brewing, but it won’t cool us off.
Until then, the sun will be out in full force.
In the News
• In light of new charges, prosecutors asked a judge in Manhattan to put Harvey Weinstein under house arrest. The judge declined and Mr. Weinstein was released on the $ 1 million cash bail he had already posted. [New York Times]
• President Trump’s former personal driver of over 20 years is suing for more than 3,000 hours of unpaid overtime wages. [New York Times]
• Traffic deaths are the lowest the city has seen in a six-month period. [New York Times]
• Leonard Lopate, the disgraced former WNYC host who was fired last year amid allegations of inappropriate behavior, is returning to radio. [New York Times]
• New York’s emergency food program received more funding. But some worry, will it be enough? [New York Times]
• Dean G. Skelos, the former majority leader of the State Senate, flatly contradicted the testimony of witnesses who accused him of abusing his power in office. [New York Times]
• The Walt Disney Company announced that it had struck a $ 650 million deal to move its New York operations from the Upper West Side to Lower Manhattan. [New York Times]
• An inmate died on Rikers Island after being choked by another inmate, marking the first killing at the facility since 2012. [New York Times]
• Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city inspectors would check all New York City Housing Authority apartments where lead paint may have been used. [New York Times]
• A New Jersey utility company cut off the power to the home of a woman in hospice care who used an oxygen tank to breathe. She died hours later. [New York Times]
• After less than a year on stage, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical” is set to close. [New York Times]
• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is revisiting the idea of a hurricane barrier stretching across New York Harbor to prevent future storm surges from flooding parts of the city. [WNYC]
• The city ordered the removal of a parking lot in Brooklyn where a 4-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run last month. [Bklyner]
• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Off the Menu”
• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.
Coming Up Today
• Learn how to create your own podcast, television show or film at an orientation session at the Media Center at BRIC House in Downtown Brooklyn. 6:30 p.m. [Free]
• The Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman discusses voting rights, race and redistricting at the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights. 6:30 p.m. [$ 5]
• The Live at the Gantries evening music series kicks off with an evening of jazz and pop music at the Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens. 7 p.m. [Free]
• Erik Bergstrom, a comedian and New Yorker cartoonist, records an album with the comedian Sean Donnelly and Phoebe Robinson, the host of “2 Dope Queens” at the Cutting Room in Midtown Manhattan. 9:30 p.m. [$ 15]
• Mets host Phillies, 7:10 p.m. (SNY). Yankees at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (YES).
• The World Cup semifinals begin with a match between France and Belgium at 2 p.m. Here’s where to watch.
• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until August 15.
• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.
Who is the New York woman?
The Quad Cinema is exploring her complexities — “from a nurturing parent to a fickle mate to a bohemian relative” — in its largest retrospective of films yet.
“The New York Woman,” a series of films that span a century and all five boroughs, serves up portraits of “shopgirls, party girls, working girls, funny girls, unmarried women, society dames, mad housewives and ladies about town trying to make it big or simply get by in a city of glass towers and glass ceilings.”
Here’s a sample of what’s showing this week:
Today: “I Like It Like That,” Darnell Martin’s first feature film about a Bronx housewife who takes a job with a high-powered record executive is a “terrifically buoyant debut feature” that “is as scrappy and alluring as its heroine,” wrote The Times in 1994. 9:20 p.m.
Wednesday: “Walking and Talking,” Nicole Holofcener’s first feature film explores the friendship between two childhood best friends, Laura and Amelia. “A date movie so enjoyably prickly it will seem funniest if you don’t have a date,” wrote The Times in 1996, it “goes straight to the heart of the friendship between these women.” 4:45 p.m.
Friday: “Crossing Delancey,” follows an Upper West Side bookseller on her frequent trips to her grandmother, who lives in the “old-world Jewish culture on the Lower East Side,” wrote The Times in 1988. “What makes ‘Crossing Delancey’ so appealing is the warm and leisurely way it arrives at its inevitable conclusion.” 4:50 p.m.
The retrospective runs through July 19. Here’s a full list of the films. Tickets are $ 16.
New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.
For New York Today updates throughout the day, like us on Facebook.
You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.