The U.S. Postal Service has just unveiled a new series of 'forever' postage stamps that honor and commemorate the unique American art form of tap dance.
The collection of five different stamps went on sale at Post Offices nationwide July 10 following an unveiling of the series in New York City's Times Square. The stamps were created by Broadway theater photographer Matthew Murphy, who photographed five professional dancers to create iconic images for the collection, in collaboration with the project's art director Ethel Kessler.
"The amazing thing about it for me was that I come from a family of tap dancers," Murphy told Broadway.com in an interview. "My sister and brother-in-law are professional tap dancers, and my mom was a tap teacher. I've been immersed in [the dance] community for as long as I can remember."
"Today, we are celebrating the American art form of tap dance with these vibrant stamps in the heart of Times Square as the Postal Service recognizes one of our nation's greatest contributions to the world of dance," said Lorraine G. Castellano, U.S. Postal Service New York district manager and executive in charge, during the July 10 ceremony - according to a USPS press release.
Tap dance is closely correlated with jazz music - another original American art form. According to the U.S. Postal Service background material and history for the stamp series, "the deepest roots of tap dancing date back the trans-Atlantic slave trade, especially to contact between enslaved Africans and Irish and Scottish indentured servants on Caribbean plantations in the 1600s. In Colonial America, a wide range of dance elements with African origins — including a relaxed torso, hip movement, improvisation, using the body as a percussive instrument, and the rhythmic shuffling, gliding or dragging of the feet — became intertwined with the rapid footwork of the Irish jig and the percussion of English clog dancing."
Tap dance routines became popular on Broadway and in film during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s - with their popularity fluctuating between mainstream and nostalgic over the next 50 years. The Tap Dance series are being issued as 'forever' stamps in 20-stamp packets - with the value always equivalent to the current First-Class Mail 1–ounce price.
The Tap Dance stamps are being issued as a Forever stamp in panes of 20. These Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1–ounce price.