There's no dancer alive better than those of the 1950s and 1960s. It's only the energy that changes. Every now and then, someone like me comes along, and people say, 'Oh, this guy is this new thing.' But that's not so. There is no me without them. The tradition just goes on.
I never really stop and think about should I put my hat on this way or that, not thinking that little JoJo down the street would be copying that. I'm more conscious about it now and tell the kids that it's not about the shoes or what kind of shoes... it's all about the dance.
There are people who take tap class, do a tap dance. And then there are people who know the dance, who know why they take tap classes. Who know why they do 20 shuffles, or 50 shuffles, before they go on.
Frank Sinatra changed people's approach to singing. Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, van Gogh, they were all part of movements that allowed people to think about their craft differently. They changed the game. These people changed the game.
It's as if my left heel is my bass drum and my right heel is the floor tom-tom. I can get snare out of my right toe by not putting it down on the floor hard, and, if I want cymbals, I land flat on both feet, full strength on the floor.
My mom couldn't afford dance shoes, so she put me in these old cowboy boots with a hard bottom so I could get some sound out. I used them for seven months. When I finally got real tap shoes, I was nervous. I kept moving my feet, thinking, 'Oh, so this is how it's supposed to sound.'
Tap dancing is like... it's equivalent to music, not only for the African American community, but also for the world. Tap dancing is like language; it's like air: it's like everything else that we need in order to survive. I'm blessed and honored to be knowledgeable of the art form and to be a part of the art form.
When I'm on TV or whatever, I'm able to bring my instruments, my board, and my sound is intact. But other kids who are on TV, when they're doing tap, sometimes they're just on the regular floor. It's not as safe; it's not as sound-worthy as it should be.
I'm still growing, still learning. I'm still open and vulnerable enough to know there's much more to be taught to me and learned by me. I hope I don't reach my pinnacle on this earth where I think I know it all.
I grew up watching Gregory Hines banging out rhythms like drum beats, and Jimmy Slyde dancing these melodies, you know, bop-bah-be-do-bap, not just tap-tap-tap. Everyone else was dancing in monotone, but I could hear the hoofers in stereo, and they influenced me to have this musical approach towards tap.
I was first introduced to dancing through the TV: I remember watching ballet, jazz and ballroom dancing when I was very little. But I felt no connection with it whatsoever: it was just like watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
I was very happy with the success of 'Noise/Funk,' but of course, there is a lot more that I have to say about the dance, about the history, about the people involved with the dance and their history.