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Tips on Taps by Carlos | Sheet Music Collectibles

Tips on Taps | Album of Tap Dancing
Carlos, Foremost International Tap Dance Authority

“The Dance is the Thing.” is what Earnest Carlos Gonzales — known to the dance profession and six thousand pupils as just “Carlos” — tells all with whom he comes in contact.

This is how we are introduced to Carlos, Foremost International Tap Dance Authority, in this truly classic booklet. Tips on Taps combines sheet music and tap choreography into one neat little package. Originally published by Edward B. Marks Music Corporation in 1937, Tips on Taps is another piece of tap dancing ephemera that can open a window back through time to the days when everyone wanted to dance like Astaire, Rogers, Keeler and Cagney.

Choreography for Ida, Sweet as Aplle Cider
Click for full size Image

Costing only 60 cents at the time, the booklet consists of 44 pages, about 9x12 inches. There are seven complete tap routines, each with a detailed choreography and corresponding sheet music for a number of popular songs of the day. Selections include: Waltz Clog to the Chimes of Spring, Military Tap for the March of the Siamese, Eccentric Tap for By Heck, Intermediate Tap using Gotta Go to Work Again, a routine titled Truckin' On Down paired with Sugar Foot Strut, Advanced Tap for Lazy Moon and finally Soft Shoe Tap to go with Ida,Sweet As Apple Cider. The choreography for the Soft Show Routine is great fun to review in detail and we've included a high resolution image for your enjoyment. Just click this thumbnail version to get a full size view, Carlos, Foremost International Tap Dance Authority

Poor Carlos, once the "Foremost International Tap Dance Authority", but now a true footnote in dance history with not a single mention on the Internet beyond this page in Tap Wonderland. Yet in 1937, Ernest Carlos Gonzales must have had some decent reputation. The "Brief Sketch" of his life and career includes a list of "some of the stage and screen stars who have studied with him." — Ray Bolger, Dorothy Stone, Gomez & Winona, Eleanor Whitney, Florence & Alvarez, Mitzi Mayfair, Lyda Roberta, (sic, Lyda Roberti) Ann Pennington, June & Cherry Preisser, Mitzi Green, Pat Rooney Jr., Judy Canova, Georgie Tapps, and "scores of others". Well, maybe not all were stars exactly, but take a look at the pages linked to these names. It all adds up to a brief history of show business — from Vaudeville, to Broadway, to Hollywood musicals — all somehow touched by Carlos, Foremost International Tap Dance Authority.

From the "Brief Sketch" of his life: "Carlos was born in Havana, just a few short years after the turn of the century, thus instinctively acquiring the exquisite grace of the Latin and adding the exotic, sinuous suppleness of the African. When a child, he came to the United States, settling at Jacksonville, Florida, where at the age of fifteen he originated the famous "Snake-hips" dance, a sensational routine 'that was later brought to New York. Carlos first performed before the public right on Broadway and he has remained ever since a national figure in the dance world. He started teaching in 1927." ( If this is true, that Carlos originated the "snake-hips" dance, then others that lay claim, like Earl "Snakehips" Tucker, must have picked it up from Carlos after he arrived in NYC. — SM)

Click to view the video.

Here is a fascinating clip from 1961, the DuPont Show of the Week, hosted by Gary Moore. This clip has been posted on Youtube by Lindy Compound. It features Al Minns and Leon James performing among many other styles a bit of that Snakehips dance. Try to imagine a performance like this, today, on American television. Impossible! ... now back to that brief sketch.

“In presenting the album, Tips on Taps, Carlos has spent many hours in working out new and modern routines. These are set to seven of the most appropriate and distinctive standard numbers used by the outstanding tap dancers of today. Many of the current dancing stars appearing in films and Broadway productions show the effectiveness of Carlos' teaching. His enrolled students read like a "who's who" of the theatre and they come to him from all over the world—England. France, Scotland, Holland, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as from every state in the Union. His studio, in the heart of New York, is one of the largest and most complete dancing schools in the country."

My guess is this book may have been thought quite useful in its day, for school activities, student recitals at all those struggling Depression era dance studios and perhaps even at house parties. Imagine a group of young married's, turning off the victrola, rolling up the rugs and showing off their tap skills to the crowd after one or two spiked lemonades. I think selling sheet music with choreography to accompany it was a very slick idea for the Edward B. Marks Music Corporation. Their name and imprint are still around, by the way, part of Carlin America.

— Shinichi Matsumoto