Tap Preservation Awards

The annual Tap Preservation Award is given to an outstanding individual or organization in the field,

for the superior advancement of tap dance through presentation and preservation.


2014 - George T. Nierenberg is an acclaimed Producer/Director whose career has spanned the worlds of independent features, network, cable and international television. His fascination with the roots of American culture has led to a series of remarkable non-fiction films.  His award winning film, Say Amen, Somebody (released by MGM) explores the lives and works of the pioneers of Gospel music.  Before its theatrical release, Say Amen... was celebrated at major film festivals including Cannes, Telluride, New York, Toronto and London.  It was named “One of the Ten Best Films Of The Year” by People Magazine, Siskel and Ebert and Rolling Stone, among others.

The accolades for Nierenberg continued with No Maps On My Taps, his Emmy-winning film on jazz tap dancing, which received a theatrical release before airing on PBS, cable and international television.  In the film, the spirit of tap in its heyday, shown in rare photos and Hollywood film clips of the 1930s, provides a backdrop for intimate portraits of three surviving “hoofers,” Sandman Sims, Chuck Green and Bunny Briggs.  As was written by Richard Corliss of Time Magazine, “Their story is poignant, their dexterity poetic, their legacy immense”.  The production spawned live presentations of tap dance performances, which toured to over 60 cities around the world.

No Maps… was followed by About Tap, a PBS special featuring Gregory Hines, which, by looking at three tap legends, Jimmy Slyde, Chuck Green and Steve Condos, explores how an artist finds his/her own style.  Mr. Nierenberg made the film to build on what had come before in No Maps… by addressing the artistry of the dance form and how much each dancer’s style in jazz tap comes from that individual’s unique personality.

Mr. Nierenberg also received an Emmy nomination for directing That Rhythm...Those Blues featuring pioneer blues performers Ruth Brown and Charles Brown.  The film tells the story of the early days of rhythm and blues and how the genre helped to break down racial barriers of segregation at a time when Jim Crow laws were the norm in the US.

Mr. Nierenberg’s television experience is extensive.  He has produced, directed and developed projects for MGM, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, AMC, Bravo, Nickelodeon, Cinemax, Sony BMG and Reader’s Digest,  including: Neon Lights, for National Geographic's Explorer and a film on Voodoo in Haiti for ABC’s Day One.  Nierenberg was enlisted as a producer to launch Saturday Night with Connie Chung on CBS.  He also served as a consultant, overseeing the non-fiction programming at Lifetime Television and presently serves as a consultant to the Associated Press, helping to oversee the video production done by their still photographers.

For VH1’s Hard Rock Live, he directed portraits of popular musical artists such as Chicago, Robert Palmer, Cyndi Lauper, Blues Traveler, Sinead O’Connor, and Boz Scaggs.  For American Movie Classics he created Gotta Dance!, a two-part series on ballroom dancing and for Walt Disney and Bravo, Head of the Class: The Lion King. 

Nierenberg’s music interests led him to work with Sony BMG, for which he completed two DualDisc projects: Bill Withers’ Just As I Am and Neil Diamond’s The Jazz Singer.

 

Layered and nuanced, Mr. Nierenberg’s films all tend to cover more than just their apparent subject matter.  Say Amen… is taught in women’s studies departments in universities nationwide.  That Rhythm… is noted for its treatment of the early days of the civil rights movement, as experienced in the music industry.

And so it is as well with Mr. Nierenberg’s films about jazz tap dance. At a time when tap dancers had begun to wax elegiac about the demise of their beloved art form, No Maps and its subsequent tour sparked a resurgence of interest from the general public. About Tap helped solidify this positive trend. No Maps creates an indispensable historical record of the form, told by those who forged that history, telling the story of tap as an expression of black heritage and culture; About Tap furthers the tale as more of those history makers – guided by Gregory Hines –  also examine the question “How does an artist discover his/her own individual style?”  For Chuck Green, character makes the dance performance work: "You have to say something. You give it a personality.”  Both films are widely hailed as critical contributions to this uniquely American art form.

American Tap Dance Foundation

American Tap Dance Center

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