The Hip-Hop Theater Festival will present Keepin It Moving: The Legacy of Sandman Sims on July 9 and 10 in Washington, D.C., in tribute to the legendary tapper who used to drive unsuccessful performers from the stage—sometimes using a toy gun—on amateur nights at New York’s celebrated Apollo Theater.
Contestants from those amateur nights will be among the performers in the piece, choreographed and directed by Holly Bass and commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in honor of the Apollo’s 75th anniversary. An exhibition, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment,” is on display through August 29 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Henry Sims—known as “Sandman” because he danced on sprinkled sand to accentuate the sound of his taps—was much more than a figure of fun. Sims, who died in 2003 at the age of 86, was a stellar tap dancer whose pupils include Ben Vereen and Gregory Hines.
Keepin It Moving explores black dance traditions from tap to house to hip-hop. The multi-disciplinary presentation will include a range of artists who will interpret Sims’ legacy through spoken word, rhyme, dance, beats, music, and graffiti art.
The performance starts at 7 p.m. both days at Dance Space, 3225 Eighth Street NE. Admission is free, but reserved tickets are required. To order, visit www.danceplace.org