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Islanders tap dance class for fun, healthy alternative

By Staff | Dec 3, 2014

Warmups always precede dancing. CRAIG GARRETT

Cavorting in slippery shoes on a shined floor goes against every mother’s instructions.

But women enrolled in Bobby Logue’s tapdancing class at the BIG ARTS complex appear to be having a ball, sliding and scuffing and doing their shim-sham moves, the typewriter stacco of metal-tipped shoes bouncing off stage walls in the Schein Performance Hall where the students practice twice a week.

Most of the dancers are women, though several men are enrolled.

The motion of tap has certain and obvious health residuals — in balance and stamina — but most of the students are enrolled for the pure enjoyment and freedom of dance, many in the class insist. Tap traces its roots to Irish stepdancing, Broadway, vaudeville and jazz traditions ensuing.

Even as Logue cranks up the speed of the music, the women in the noon class endure, certainly into the cadence of footwork that has defined tap for every generation of Shirley Temple or Sammy Davis Jr. watchers. And while many of the eight women in the class could be classified as seniors, there’s little evidence of such as music and pace quicken, to the uninitiated, to a dangerously silly speed.

Bobby Logue leads the instruction. Practice is at Schein Hall at the BIG ARTS complex. CRAIG GARRETT

“It’s very definitely aerobic,” said Lynn Quigley, one of the women dancing. “But I (dance) because I like it, it’s fun.”

As season unfolds in the islands, dance and other BIG ARTS classes will balloon with fresh faces. But this tap class has consistently held the same core of dancers for a dozen years. Some 30 dancers, mostly women, will be enrolled in the class with full arrival of snowbirds. The class meets twice weekly October through April.

Dancers at the noon session have outlasted several instructors, but Logue seems to have worked his magic with the class, many of the women said. Logue is at the heart of island performance and dance programs at BIG ARTS.

“Bobby is a joy,” said Nancy Goodwin, a BIG ARTS tap student for the last dozen years. “He’s so much fun.”

One of the tap group’s signatures has been so-called flashmob performances, striking up a dance at random locales, mostly to entertain but also to market the class. The class has yet to schedule a flashmob performance this season, however.