FEBRUARY 14, 1946-AUGUST 9, 2003

Gregory Hines was born February 14th, 1946.  Every year in honor of this great man's birthday, Operation:Tap dedicates a week solely to Gregory Hines.  Gregory Hines' Week.  Gregory's career accomplishments as a dancer and artist are very well documented.  But for this year we'd like to look at the inspiration that Gregory was as a person and a performer.  He touched thousands of lives and inspired so many to pursue careers in the arts, especially generations of tap dancers.

I'm one of those people.  I only met Gregory Hines one time. That's it, once.  When I was 16 I took his class at a studio in NYC called Woodpecker's.  He was teaching a master class at one of their intensives and I was thrilled when I was able to sign up.  I had only known who Gregory Hines was for a year or so.  The style of tap that I learned from the ages 3-15 was more of a musical theater style of tap.  Lots of arms and lots of sequins.  When I was 16 the studio I attended hired a new tap teacher named, Susan Hebach.  Susan was the first person to ever teach me rhythm tap.  She also gave me a VHS after class one day and said to go home and watch this.  It was a recording of a PBS special entitled, "Tap Dance In America."  This video changed my life.  Within 5 minutes of watching Gregory Hines dance I was hooked and I started to scream, "Mom, Mom come here and look at this guy!  He's got no arms and no sequins!" My Mom, who was also a dancer, sat and watched the whole special with me.  I must have watched it hundreds of more times after that trying to learn all of the steps.  But it was literally during that video I knew I wanted to be a tap dancer.  The style of tap and the uniqueness of all the performers, most of all Gregory, really had a profound affect on me.  I danced my whole life but never really identified with a particular style until that day.  I became obsessed with tap dancing and I started to shape my training and life to becoming a professional tap dancer.  

I truly doubt I would have ever pursued the career path I did without seeing that video of Gregory Hines that day.  That's how far reaching and inspiring his talent was.  He was like a super hero to me and I'm very grateful to him for inspiring me to become a tap dancer.  After watching Gregory Hines, I couldn't figure out why anyone would ever want to be anything else.