My creative piece is about tap dancing from 1840s to present day with a focus on African Americans and their experiences with the entertainment industry. It represents the theme of progression and regression, which are shown throughout the film Juno, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. The biggest way I bring my point across is through my tap dance presentation. Without it, I'm sure many would feel like it had no thorough application to my life. This project was meant to show something that I've learned through the themes expressed in the texts and films we've seen. Tap dancing has affected my life, and without really understudying where it came from I couldn't really appreciate it.
I've been completely oblivious to how the art of tap dancing has changed over time, and which group of people had the biggest set backs and troubles with it. There are racial, social and economic barriers that made the career of tap dancing hard to obtain for African Americans. Of course, there will be some who couldn't afford a pair of tap shoes, but there are others who had a natural talent but were ignored because of the melanin in their skin. However, if one wanted to peruse tap dancing as a career, that person had to accept the conditions that came with it. That point highlights the theme of progression vs regression.
African Americans could tap dance, but only through Blackface (in certain times of American history). So yes, their talent was displayed but only through degrading and humiliating themselves. For the love of tap dancing or economic reasons, one may trump the other. At the end of the day, an African American person could tap dance, just not in the way that's most morally right. The final product was that there were African Americans performing in front of an audience, and talent was clearly expressed. Yet the general picture was another tactic to defeat the overall success of African Americans.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, there are many characters that show obvious progression and regression throughout the text, due to the course of events. Chillingworth, the ex-husband of Hester Prynne, tries to get revenge on the man that gave way to Hester Prynne's daughter, Pearl. This hunched back Chillingworth spends a great deal of his life trying to find ways to torture the man that fathered his ex-wife's daughter. The man he tries to get revenge on, Dimmesdale, is a minister who tries to redeem himself of the sin he knowingly committed.
Chillingworth progressed by taking complete control of Dimmesdale's life, but lost complete sight of what his purpose in life was. Sure, he was able to slowly torture his enemy, and prevent him from happiness. However, in that process, Chillingworth sacrificed his own happiness and understanding. All of the compassion and drive for life was now put into years of trying to keep Dimmesdale alive - which was really torture for both of them. Chillingworth never fully redeemed himself of the wasted years in spite, so the real progression was gone with the wind.
In the film Juno, directed by Jason Reitman, Juno is a young teenage mother who faces many modern day challenges of motherhood. Specifically, the audience sees the true measure of self analysis, progression and regression. Juno faced her situation head strong, with a plan in front of her to fix the damage she's caused in her life and others. Her self analysis was accurate, she was sure that she didn't want to have a child, and that she wasn't equipped to raise one either. The goal was that her baby would grow up in a household with loving parents. However, her real regression was her way of coping throughout the months of her pregnancy.
One of her least brightest ideas of coping with her pregnancy was spending too much time with Mark, the 'to be father' of her child. Juno found someone who understood her and accepted her even with her scarlet letter growing from under her shirt. The real problem is that a relationship like the one they had cannot exist in a healthy lifestyle. Mark is married to Vanessa, who is so eager to be a mother. In fact, Vanessa believed that's what she was born to do. Juno putting herself in the middle of their relationship instead of like a daughter to both of them caused her to have emotional regression. She began to lose grip on what reality was.
Through it all, Juno managed to develop a new set of visions and beliefs for the life she wanted her son to have. Accepting that Vanessa could be a great mother, even as a single parent was true progression. Juno didn't give up on the dream she had for her son, even if it wasn't a perfect family photo. The emotional progression continued to follow as Juno and Bleeker (father of child and friend) continued to spend time with each other, and heal through music. Time continued to pass, but it was the way she spent the time that passed that made a true difference. Juno made a sacrifice by not being selfish with her decision on the baby. By sacrificing the bond built with her baby, she gave birth to opportunities that she would have never had if she'd raised the baby herself. Another opportunity that grew from the birth of her son was the chance to start fresh with Bleeker. Of course if couldn't be starting fresh in the literal sense, but they both reached milestones in their lives at young ages. Their coping strategies will continue to express progression and regression throughout their lives.
The way progression and regression are measured throughout time will continue to set the standards of society.
The presentation aspect of my project could have been improved if it were shorter, but in my mind that leaves gaps in my knowledge and content. It was hard for most people to sit through it all, which is why I chose a vibrant song to give them hopes that my project would continue to interest them. The hardest part was transitioning from part to part, for there were times when I felt myself that it was a lot of information. Trying to condense them all into one video was difficult, because I’d have to verbally break down each slide.
The research behind the project was very dense, so that’s why I considered other ways to present the information. ‘Softing’ (dancing barefoot) to my tap dance was an idea given to me by my mother. I definitely didn’t want to perform after Savion Glover - that’s just a disappointment to everyone else. However, there were some technical difficulties that I didn’t want to mention while presenting. The floor itself is very slippery, which makes tap dancing even harder. Without the stage, the moves of my taps couldn’t be picked up by the floor. The wooden stage has give, which allows for a more lucid performance. These things my peers may not have understood, and I surely didn’t want to have a list of excuses as to why I didn’t use tap shoes.
That setback for me was progression, because I was able to make more than one connection through tap dancing. My personal regression was simply that I couldn’t find a way to condense it all in an appealing way. Finding evidence of the things I talked about and being on point with factual information was a lot to do at once. However, I am proud to have a final product that says about my talents. Choreographing the dance alone, performing it and following it with a slide presentation was huge for me. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything. The last time I presented in front of a class, I didn’t do so well because of my concussion. Now I’m sure that my problems from before won’t hold me back and that the scale/esteem that I’m held at is level with my peers.