Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Tapdancing by Jazz singer and composer William Price King

I am sure like me, there have been times when you have wondered what difference might have been made to your life, if your younger self had been gifted with the experience and knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

I invited several friends from the writing community to share their thoughts on this subject which I am sure you will enjoy as much as I did.

Today jazz singer and composer, and permanent contributor to Smorgasbord, William Price King, explores dancing and its benefits, in particular tap dancing which he wishes his younger self would have taken more advantage of.

I wish I knew then what I know now by William Price King

As a performing artist I have always admired dancers. Their professionalism is unparalleled, and they are forever striving for excellence. In New York I had the pleasure of working with a few choreographers who encouraged me to take dance classes in my search for excellence on the stage. So, I signed up for classes at the Alvin Ailey Dance School

Apparently, I got off to a late start. Back in the 70’s, singers and actors were expected to  “move well on stage”, they didn’t necessarily have to move like dancers, but it would have been to their advantage if they had some semblance of dance technique, especially in musical theater. So, after quite a few classes and lots of hard work, I accepted the reality that dancing was not for me, it was not in my DNA.

As a child I was marveled by the dancing skills of the Nicholas Brothers, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Fred Astaire, all of whom were elegant iconic tap dancers. While living in New York, I saw every Broadway show that featured tap dancing. If I had had the talent to dance I think I would have chosen tap. Tap is a style of dance which requires precise and rapid footwork, and special dance shoes with metal plates screwed into the shoe. When you tap dance, the metal clangs on the floor and makes a sound that’s equivalent to a drum, which creates a beat.

I wish I knew then what I know now about the benefits you get from tap dancing: that tap strengthens your balance and posture, and has long-term advantages for your health; that tap also increases the flexibility in your hips, knees, and ankles. Had I known that way back then, and had been able to do it, I would probably have had less back pain, and the risks of age-related falls, which are more prevalent now at my age, might have been reduced. Had I taken tap classes, the exercises would have loosened my ankles to help prevent ankle sprains and sharpened my coordination. If I didn’t need that sort of help then, I certainly need it now, with all of the mountain climbing I try to do.

When I was in my late 20’s I did a bit of weight lifting at the gym to stay in shape and keep my weight down for the stage. Little did I know then that tap dancing was considered a weight-bearing sport, with the body weight being the load. Had I known that, and had I given myself the opportunity, that would have been a fun alternative to the ennui of lifting weights.

I never thought of tap as being aerobic, and had no idea that the movements from tap dancing could elevate the heart rate. I was also unaware that tap was considered a good cardiovascular exercise and that it was effective in lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. But at that time my focus was on performing. I was not at all preoccupied by health issues.

I remember hearing tap dancers say in interviews that the rhythmic aspects of tap were excellent for the brain, and could increase your cognitive abilities. But I never thought that concerned me. If I had trained as a tap dancer I could have developed communication between my brain, legs, and feet. Learning and memorizing dance patterns would have probably been a better mental workout for me than just memorizing lyrics, which were easy to do with the help of the melody. But I didn’t think of that then.

I also heard that dancing produces positive psychological effects and relieves some of the physiological symptoms of depression, as well as the negative impacts of stress. I guess one could assume that dancing is a natural anti-depressant. Why not? With tap, instead of punching that proverbial punching bag when you’re upset about something, you could strike the floor instead with your feet, create a few steps, and let your creativity alleviate that stress. That would have been a fun way for me to release tension. I wish I knew that then.

But I guess I really can’t complain. I was gifted with the art of singing and was able to make a career out of it without having to dance. I enjoyed being on the stage, and passing the art of singing on to others. If I had to do it all over again I would not hesitate. I would just try to find a little space for tap, just for the fun of it, to stay in shape. However, I’m trying to make up for it now by taking Gyrotonics and Pilates classes, which, at my age is not so bad.

The origins of tap dance can be traced back to the days of slave trade in America when slaves were forbidden by the masters to communicate through their traditional drums because they were afraid that the communicative power of drums could be used for rebellion. Consequently, they transferred their rhythmic messages to their feet. In the mid-19th century, their footwork merged with the jigs and clog dances of Irish and English immigrants, and tap dance was born. It became popular in 1921 in New York City, with  “Shuffle Along”, an all-black jazz tap musical starring Josephine Baker, and had its heyday in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Thanks to Avery O Williams 

©William Price King 2022

My thanks to William for sharing this wonderful look back at tap dancing and also exploring all the amazing benefits of this form of entertainment and exercise. I know he would love to hear from you..

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson 

 

Thanks very much for joining us today and it would be great if you could share William’s response to the prompt… thanks Sally.

105 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Post – I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now! #Tapdancing by Jazz singer and composer William Price King

    • Oh Sharon, that was the perfect age to start dance classes. Of course it’s very difficult in the early stages, and it’s normal. It takes time to grow into it. Sorry your parents didn’t encourage you, who knows, you may have been an excellent dancer. Thanks for sharing that with us. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi William, That was so interesting to learn about your journey. I’m sure any sort of dancing is fantastic exercise for anyone, but you’re on the right with all the exercise you’re doing now. It’s wonderful that you’ve been able to follow your dreams as a singer. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My parents put me in tap and ballet when I was really young. Sadly, I don’t remember it nor did I last long before they moved me to gymnastics and then sports (they believed I should play everything at least one season). Now, I wish I would have stuck with it. Thanks for sharing William’s piece, Sally! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A lovely post from William, Sally. Now I want to take tap dancing lessons! 63 isn’t too late, is it? 🙂 Thanks, William, for sharing all the health benefits of dancing, as well as some history of tapping, and some great clips. My mom used to take my brothers and me to shows with tap dancing, and I remember being completely mesmerized. I enjoyed this read. Great fun to learn more about you too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you very much, Diana. Please know that it’s not too late for you to take tap lessons and get the health benefits which come from them. And, it could be lots of fun, too. Why not? I am delighted that you enjoyed the post. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would certainly recommend all styles of dance you might do. I’ve just enjoyed a holiday and an opportunity to dance (swing, blues and disco) it certainly brought a smile to my face.
    Indeed, ‘dancing produces positive psychological effects and relieves some of the physiological symptoms of depression, as well as the negative impacts of stress’
    classes shoue be on the NHS – but I doubt I would ever have done the splits at any age.
    Thank you for sharing.
    ‘Tapping or drumming’, beats to make you smile.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Although none of us tap-danced, there was a love of tap dancers in our family. My father played tennis with Ginger Rogers, such a great partner to Fred Astaire! and hubs and I went to a stage show in Los Angeles many years ago starring the great Ann Miller. She was at the end of her career but boy could she dance! Yes, the fastest feet in Hollywood!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve always enjoyed tap dancing but it is limited to watching only! This is a wonderful piece, as it tells so much more than just I wish… Thanks for sharing William, those videos are too good.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Wonderful post, William and Sally. I have never tap danced, but my husband and I used to go dancing all the time in our dating days and early in our marriage. It’s fun and good exercise. Now we mostly dance in the living room, which reminds me of the days before my parents passed of watching them dance in the kitchen, arm in arm, twirling around with big smiles on their faces. 🙂
    I enjoyed the videos, too.
    ~Lauren 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I really enjoyed learning a bit more about William – he’s had such an interesting life and his explanation of the many benefits of tap dancing makes so much sense. I hadn’t heard of the Nicholas Brothers and watched that clip open-mouthed. Many thanks! x

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great post about tap dancing, which I love to watch. Both of my daughters did it and like you, I wish I had learned as a youth. I love the added benefits other than the enjoyment of doing it or watching.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi Sally, it is great to see William sharing a post in this series. I also love tap dancing and would have loved to learn. I never had the opportunity. I wanted to be a singer when I was a girl and I had a very good voice (according to the music teachers). My parents were conservative and would never have allowed me to perform on stage outside of the convent.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Great post, I love that film of the Nicholas brothers. Thanks to YouTube I have seen them before, but that dance got more and more amazing towards the end. I love any old musicals with tap dancing and I would have loved to tap dance, but I never went to dance lessons of any sort when I was a child, preferring climbing trees and dashing around on my roller skates!
    So true, people wouldn’t need the gym or antidepressants if they could tap dance!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, such a fascinating and informative post William. Who knew Tap had so many benefits, and I enjoyed learning about its origins. But no worries Mr. King, you’ve done well with your talents, despite no tap. 🙂 Hugs ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a gift it is to look back and see the blessings of your life. Thank you, William and Sally, for this beautiful share — and all the dances. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  15. William, a fab piece. You mentioned dances I have always admired and the Nicholas Bros…Michael Jackson must have watched them a lot, same as my dear old Fred. I did tap, ballet, and, Hawaiian, when young – loved it. Later my dad taught me a few dance moves. He and The Mater would jitterbug and jive. At school, l we did country dancing and learned the classics, waltz, two-step, and the Gay Gordons, etc. The boys used to throw us girls around in country dancing.. Pans People on TV (Top of the Pops) were a huge influence too. In my music life, one of the female singer/songwriters we managed needed to learn how to move on stage – she was not a natural. We linked up with Madonna/Michael Jackson’s choreographer (Assistant) Michelle Johnson who put her through her paces in LA (Who’s that Girl tour/Capt EO and others). Talk about teaching someone with two left feet! We then placed her with Paula Abdu’s sister, Wendy Abdul,a choreographer, and that was a little better. You gave me such a vivid picture in my mind of you dancing and putting yourself through your paces. I enjoyed this no end. Thanks. Tweeted. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wonderful, William! I have always considered Fred Astaire the best dancer. I’m glad you list the many, many benefits of tap dancing. At school, we know that children’s brains are sharpened and ready to learn after physical activity. I asked my mother once if she had any regrets about something she had always wanted to do but never did. Yup, tap dancing!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – May 2nd – 8th 2022 – Voice of Indie, Hits 1994, Ella Fitzgerald, Guest Posts, Short Stories, Poetry, Health and Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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