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.