Tap is a surprisingly rich and affecting blend of dance and story that transcends its respectful deference toward the great hoofers of a bygone era to deliver plenty of glowing contemporary entertainment.
Impassioned by the twin personal commitments of writer-director Nick Castle (whose father choreographed Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly) and star Gregory Hines (whose tap career began at five at Harlem’s Apollo Theater), project benefits from a dream cast and crew.
Hines plays Max, an ex-con torn between the high style and fast money of his former career as a jewel thief and the more deeply felt pleasures of tap dance, learned from his dead father. Trying to spark up an old romance with a dance teacher (Suzzanne Douglas), whose father, Lil Mo (Sammy Davis Jr), was his dad’s pal, Max gets pulled unwillingly into the world of the oldtime hoofers, who occupy the exalted third floor of Sonny’s, a dance studio and shabby shrine to the all-but-forgotten form.
Much like blues music, the dancing in this pic seems a heartfelt and exuberant response to urban struggle. Another big asset is pic’s introduction in final dance seg of Tap-Tronics, a blend of tap and electric rock in which dancer’s taps are connected with synthesizers that allow him to make both rhythmic and melodic music.