McRae rehearses the role of the Mad Hatter in Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (photo by Gautier Deblonde)

Happy National Tap Dance Day! (Trust Us, There's a Ballet Connection.)

In the spirit of honesty, we'll just come out and say it: Here at Pointe, we're not exactly tap dance experts. But that doesn't mean we've never taken tap, nor that we're immune to the beauty, technicality and historical importance of tap dance. It's just that the dance world doesn't often see crossover performers showing off both their ballet and tap expertise.

Fortunately, Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae is here to show us what that expertise looks like. McRae was tapped (sorry) to play the Mad Hatter in Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland—a part that involves seriously fleet footwork. In this video from World Ballet Day 2015, he displays his prowess:

There's a lot going on here: McRae, an Australian, is a principal dancer in the UK's largest ballet company. He's combining a uniquely American dance style with the music and historical mannerisms of a specific Hungarian folk dance—which itself derived from Romani music.

But that's the beauty of dance: Its ability to communicate across languages and cultures—even across time. So from one group of ballet devotees to another: Happy National Tap Dance Day!

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Liam Scarlett with Marianela Nuñez and Ryoichi Hirano during a rehearsal of his Swan Lake at The Royal Ballet. Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH

Choreographer Liam Scarlett Has Died

Over the weekend, news broke that 35-year-old choreographer Liam Scarlett, a former artist in residence at The Royal Ballet, died suddenly at his home in England. "It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic, untimely death of our beloved Liam," Scarlett's family said in a brief statement. "At this difficult time for all of our family, we would ask that you respect our privacy to enable us to grieve our loss."

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks