Tap Dance : The Heartbeat of American Dance Culture

Date of Award


Document Type

MSU-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


College of the Arts


Theatre and Dance

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Kathleen Kelley

Committee Member

Claire Porter

Committee Member

Cristina Marte


Tap dance is an American dance form that, even today, continues to evolve and reinvent itself. This MFA thesis project is a thirteen-minute dance film with original music and choreography that examines and explores tap dance through the lens of Afrocentric and Eurocentric dance and cultural aesthetics, and how they have intermixed and been reinvented throughout tap dance’s history and evolution. I conducted research on Africanist and Eurocentric cultural aesthetics, tap dance history with a focus on America’s underlying racial relationships represented in the dance form’s development, cultural contexts of the various styles and sub-genres of tap dance, and technology used in producing creative content in the era of digital media. As an artistic response that is both highly engaging and entertaining, the film successfully represents and celebrates tap dance’s cultural diversity and promotes the cultural common ground found in the art form. In doing so, I aspire to generate a deeper understanding of tap dance’s cultural significance to a broader audience, and showcase how tap dance represents American dance culture.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, which is located at the bottom of the screen, is available to anyone interested in reading it.

File Format


Scacchetti, John_Redacted.pdf (872 kB)
PDF file of thesis

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