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MAY 25

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As elegant and expert as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly may have been, when it came to dancing they each had a distinct advantage: two feet. And as cleverly pointed as the joke about Ginger Rogers is—she did everything Fred did, but backward and in heels—again, she had a pair of heels to do it in. Now consider Mr. Peg Leg Bates. A star as far back as Blackbirds of 1928, the one-legged tap dancer is still around proving why it’s good to be human. One could prattle about conquering disability or some such thing; the fact is, Bates is a solid artist who asks only to entertain and delivers beyond request. When my brother was born, my father diverted my sister’s and my attention by taking us to see the Harlem Globetrotters. I can’t recall who won that game, but the halftime show has stuck with me: a man with a wooden leg dancing as if he had seven appendages. It was Bates, and I’m grateful to have witnessed his act. In celebration of congressionally mandated National Tap Dance Day (observed on the anniversary of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birth), D.C.’s Tap America Project is bringing Bates to town as part of “The Nine Lives of Tap.” Many other talented performers, including Barry Blumenfeld, Stockton Von Black, and Mya Harrison, will demonstrate multilimbed movements. The show will belong to the man with the pirate stance. At 7 p.m. at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, 6th & Fairmont Sts. NW. $15. (202) 806-7199. (Dave Nuttycombe)