The Tap Dancing Buddha
New Yorker and tap dancer Andrew Nemr had humble beginnings. Born to immigrant Lebanese parents, with little interest in the performing arts, he joined a dance class for one major reason: it was close to his home, and he liked his teacher. He was then mentored by legendary American dancer and actor Gregory Hines and went on to co-found the Tap Legacy and Foundation and Cat Paying Dues, a tap dancing initiative. He is now a TED fellow who decodes life, keeping in mind the principles of tap dancing. And he dances as he talks! Excerpts from an email interview:
Q. What has tap dancing taught you about life?
A. The main lessons are patience and grace. Through the learning process, I’ve often been frustrated and impatient. The grace I found in learning, trying, failing, being encouraged and corrected, in having second chances. I then share that experience when I dance. Tap dance is about generosity.
Q. You often talk about how your faith (Christianity) and your craft intersect. Give us a brief peek into that.
A. I believe my faith is at the centre of who I am. To be true, my faith must permeate all aspects of who I am and what I do. My craft, on the other hand, is a form of self-expression. If my faith is at the core of who I am and my craft is an expression of who I am, then my craft is fundamentally an expression of my faith.
Q. How does tap dancing relate to love?
A. There is the physical sacrifice the dancer experiences while training and performing. There is the complimentary idea of self-care. There is commitment. There is an openness to share so that the craft may continue. Love has all these aspects.
Q. Do you think people can form an easier connect with you when you talk of issues all while tap dancing?
A. I think tap dance is a novel approach to introduce topics that might otherwise feel too philosophical or distant. It’s harder for minds to wander when there is tap dancing going on.
Andrew Nemr is talking as part of the TedxGateway that includes other speakers such as singer Nicki Wells, musician Nitin Sawhney, social activist Daan Roosegaarde, and poet Melizarani Selva.
Where: Dec 5, NCPA, Nariman Point
When: 7 PM