Since we have tons of Steve Martin content here at ImaSportsphile….we are going to focus on his“song and dance” partner as seen in this video herewith….where the extremely talented Steve Martin joins the equally extremely talented Gregory Hines….in a live stage performance of the tap dance standard,“Ready For Love”…..so, we are going to focus on the life and career of Gregory Hines today.
Gregory Hines (February 14, 1946 – August 9, 2003) was an American dancer, actor, choreographer and singer…..who is considered to be one of the most celebrated tap dancers of all time……as Hines starred in more than 40 films….while also making his mark on Broadway during his lifetime.
Hines performed as the lead singer and musician in a rock band called Severance based in Venice, California during the years 1975 and 1976…..as the group was one of the house bands at an original music club called Honky Hoagies Handy Hangout, otherwise known as the 4H Club….when they released their debut album on Largo Records in 1976.
Hines made his Broadway debut with his brother in The Girl in Pink Tights in 1954….then he earned Tony Award nominations for Eubie! in 1979….Comin’ Uptown in 1980….and Sophisticated Ladies in 1981…. while winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Jelly’s Last Jam in 1992….plus winning the Theater World Award for Eubie!. In 1989, he created and hosted a PBS special called “Gregory Hines’ Tap Dance in America”….which featured various tap dancers such as Savion Glover and Bunny Briggs. He also co-hosted the Tony Awards ceremony in 1995 and 2002….while singing a duet with Luther Vandross in 1986 called “There’s Nothing Better Than Love”….which reached the # 1 on the Billboard R&B charts.
Hines made his movie debut in Mel Brooks’s History of the World, Part I in 1981…..when critics took note of Hines’s comedic charm…..which helped him in appearances in movies such as Wolfen, The Cotton Club, White Nights, Tap,Waiting to Exhale and Running Scared with Billy Crystal…..whereas on television, he starred in his own series in 1997 called The Gregory Hines Show on CBS….as well as in the recurring role of Ben Doucette on Will & Grace. In 1999, he would return to voice Big Bill in Nick Jr.’s television show Little Bill….and in 2000, he starred in The Tic Code.
Gregory Hines was an avid improviser who did a lot of improvisation of tap steps, tap sounds and tap rhythms alike…..as his improvisation was like that of a drummer doing a solo….and coming up with all sorts of rhythms. He also improvised the phrasing of a number of tap steps that he would come up with, mainly based on sound produced. A laid back dancer, he usually wore nice pants and a loose fitting shirt.
Although he inherited the roots and tradition of the black rhythmic tap, he also influenced the new black rhythmic tap, as a proponent. “‘He purposely obliterated the tempos,’ wrote tap historian Sally Sommer, ‘throwing down a cascade of taps like pebbles tossed across the floor. In that moment, he aligned tap with the latest free form experiments in jazz and new music and postmodern dance.'”
Throughout his career, Hines wanted and continued to be an advocate for tap in America. In 1988, he successfully petitioned the creation of National Tap Dance Day….which is now celebrated in 40 cities in the United States, as well as eight other nations. He was on the board of directors of Manhattan Tap, a member of the Jazz Tap Ensemble and a member of the American Tap Dance Foundation, which was formerly called the American Tap Dance Orchestra.
Through his teaching, he influenced tap dancers such as Savion Glover, Dianne Walker, Ted Levy and Jane Goldberg. In an interview with The New York Times in 1988, Hines said that everything he did was influenced by his dancing: “my singing, my acting, my lovemaking, my being a parent.”