On Tap

Leonard Reed's Shim Sham Shimmy - Tap Level: Beginner+

Regular price $30.00


Leonard Reed's Shim Sham Shimmy

Tap Level: Beginner and up

The Original Shim Sham (1927)
The Freeze Chorus (circa 1930)
The Shim Sham II (1994)


In 1927, two song and dance men, Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant, took four popular steps of the 1920's, strung them together with a break and created the now legendary "Shim Sham Shimmy." At the time, Reed & Bryant were touring in the South with The Whitman Sisters show, and the dance was originally called "Gofus." The dance was designed to be so easy that members of the audience could be taught one step a night (getting them to come back to see the show three more times to learn the rest of it!). The dance travelled quickly up north and was renamed in the 1930s when it was performed in New York's Shim Sham Club and the chorus girls added the shimmying of the shoulders on the opening step. The second chorus, "The Freeze," is the same as the first, but dancers freeze in place of the break step.

In February of 1994, at age 87, Leonard decided it was time to create another chorus -- "The Shim Sham II."

Leonard Reed lived to be 97 years old, and, to his utter delight, he saw his dance become the official "National Anthem of Tap."

If you've been tap dancing for years or are just putting on your first pair of tap shoes, you'll be able to learn the Shim Sham Shimmy. On this video, you will see a demonstration of the dance by a group of talented and ageless (7-75!) tappers and hear an introduction by Leonard Reed himself. Next, tap dancer and preservationist Rusty Frank breaks down the Shim Sham Shimmy, the Freeze Chorus, and the Shim Sham II, using the same accessible methods she's used in hundreds of tap classes.

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