Mini-interview with Tap Committee Member, Dr Nathan James
27 March 2019
From our series of ISTD mini-interviews
How long have you been with the ISTD and how did it start?
I have been a member of the ISTD for 21 years after gaining my Associate Ballet at college. I went to on to complete my Associate Tap and FDI/CDE Modern Theatre before working towards the Licentiate and Fellowship exams.
What is your favourite style of Tap?
My background, and love, has always been musical theatre. 42nd Street was the first West End musical I saw in 1987 and I never looked back after that. However, as my knowledge and experience of Tap has grown, especially since training in the US, I have learnt so much more about the different styles of Tap. As a result, I have merged elements of rhythm Tap and theatre Tap into my teaching and choreography as I don’t always think Tap styles have to stand alone.
Can you briefly describe a typical day?
I’m an early bird so I’m usually up between 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. If I am in college I will be in my office by 7.30 or on some days I can switch between university in the morning and teaching children in the evening. Like most dance teachers I can often have my Tap shoes on eight plus hours a day. I can never complain, no day is ever the same or ‘typical’ so you never get bored. At various points of any day you will find me with a keyboard attached to my hands as I respond to the ever increasing emails we all receive.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Completing my PhD in May 2018. It took five years of writing and research and another six months to write it up. In all 119,500 words were submitted, 500 under the maximum limit. The focus of my research was choreography in musical film and theatre and I was arguing that the choreography is essentially the long-lost hero of musical films, as they received no Academy or Union recognition. It brought together my passions of dance, musicals and research, and I got to meet and talk with some of the last surviving dancers from the MGM musicals and several Broadway choreographers.
Why did you decide to join the Faculty?
I’ve always been extremely proud of the work of the ISTD Tap Faculty and believe it to be one of the most forward-thinking Tap syllabi currently on offer. Tap is a great passion for me and I am looking forward to working with the committee to continue to promote and develop the Tap work of the Society.