By Annie Reuter
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – On any given night in New York you can stumble into a venue that’s hosting a hip-hop dance party, rappers or a live band. But, have you ever seen a tap dancing rapper that combines all three?
Meet Benjamin Ryan Nathan.
He’s a performer that combines all his skills into one performance, and he’ll hit the East Village Thursday night for a show.
“There’s always that reaction, ‘You tap and you rap? What does that look like?’” Nathan admits. “There’s a lot of intrigue around that because people have had so much exposure to tap as children. And then to see it again as an adult and see it in a different way that’s not in a dance class, in a venue that’s onstage with popular music, it’s interesting.”
Combining rap and tap is a long process for Nathan, which often begins with lyrics.
“I write lyrics whenever it comes to me, a lot of times it’s on the train,” he said. “I create structure of the song first and then once I get together with the rest of the band and they’re writing their musical parts I’ll bring in the beats and see where that fits. It’s an experimentation together starting with the lyrics first.”
As with creating a song, Nathan’s routine is always getting tailored to his surroundings.
“Often I have to bring my own floor with me. It’s about figuring out what the space constraints are, how much I can move around, how it will be audible with musicians. My first question always is, ‘Will they have a wood floor?’”
Nathan didn’t want to audition when the National Dance Institute came to his school in the fourth grade. Today, though, he can’t imagine what his life would be like without dance.
“I definitely wouldn’t have become a dancer or a filmmaker if it wasn’t for this program in particular. It helped me get outside of myself and be able to get onstage in front of a community,” he said.
While Nathan admits there were challenges over the years, one being that it’s never easy being a young boy taking dance classes, he said he has always been an individual.
“I think I’ve learned from a young age that people are going to judge what I do. It’s just a question of really pursuing what matters. To me, I feel like tap is in my blood and I can’t not do it,” he said. “I’m always tapping, whether it’s tapping my fingers, or tapping my feet or tapping in my mind. It’s just how I express myself. I tap because I love it but I also tap because I have to.”
Ben Tap Soul performs Thursday night at Alphabet Lounge at 8 p.m. For additional tour dates in February, visit their Website.
Annie Reuter is a freelance writer and the founder of YouSingIWrite.com.