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Learning To Tap, One Day At A Time

July 12, 1985|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

Not too long ago, tap-dancing seemed a lost art. But the revival of interest on Broadway, in concert dance presentations and in such films as "The Cotton Club" has changed all that.

Energetic Bonnie Franklin is contributing to the revival with a videocassette, "Let's Tap" (Karl, $39.95), consisting of 90 minutes of lessons for beginners.

On the cassette, she first teaches the basics and then guides the student though routines like the Waltz Clog, Time Step and Soft Shoe.

What, you're probably asking, does Franklin know about tap-dancing? She's an actress, best known for her role as Ann Romano on the long-running TV series "One Day at a Time." But most people don't know that Franklin started her career as a tap-dancer. At 9, she was good enough to dance with Donald O'Connor on TV's "Colgate Comedy Hour." She's also danced in such musicals as "Applause" and "No, No, Nanette."

When she decided to make this cassette, which was sold to Karl-Lorimar Video for distribution, her problem wasn't lack of tapping skills, but lack of teaching skills. So before making the cassette, she taught some classes to develop her teaching technique.

Who's interested in learning tap-dancing? According to Franklin, her audience is all those people--she insists there are quite a few--who have dreamed of trying it but never bothered to take lessons.

"Now people can fulfill fantasies about tap-dancing," she said. "Maybe they couldn't afford lessons or didn't have the time. Or maybe they're just too embarrassed to go to dance classes. They can make fools of themselves at home practicing with this cassette and no one will ever know.

"My cassette is the easy way for these people. All you need is the cassette and some tap shoes. And you can easily have taps put on a pair of hard shoes."

Franklin isn't just trying to attract tap lovers; she's going after the fitness enthusiasts too. Practicing with this cassette, she contended, beats regular exercise:

"You get exercise without knowing it, because learning tap-dancing is so much fun. Tap-dancing is perfect for me--I hate exercise."

X-RATED CRACKDOWN?: Some local video store owners are nervous about rumors of an impending crackdown on the sale of X-rated videocassettes. Those whose entire business is sex cassettes are particularly apprehensive. Few details are known, because authorities invariably are quiet before launching a crackdown. Authorities in Florida and Arizona are already pressuring and prosecuting video dealers and distributors.

Some owners are now leery about stocking up on X-rated cassettes. If some ordinance is passed forbidding their sale, they don't want to be caught with stock they can't sell.

The manager of a Hollywood adult book store with a large selection of X-rated cassettes observed: "Something's up. The cops and those politicians are cooking up something. That's what I hear from certain people who know about things like this. Maybe nothing will happen, but something probably will happen--and happen big.

"If some tough law is passed, it would ruin my business. I don't like to think about it."

DISNEY II: Last week in Video Log, there was an item about Disney Home Video's new cassette, "Too Smart for Strangers," which teaches children from ages 3 to 10 to avoid suspicious strangers. The instructors are Winnie the Pooh and friends. The item also mentioned that this cassette focuses on dangerous strangers while, in most molestation cases, the culprit is a relative or an acquaintance of the victim.

Linda Capuano, a spokeswoman for Disney's Educational Media, pointed out that her division offers cassettes tackling the child molestation threat from a different angle.

One cassette, "Now I Can Tell You My Secret," is aimed at children between 5 and 10. "This one shows children how to protect against abuse from people in their families," she said. "It's live action with real people. It's not childish and character-oriented, like 'Too Smart for Strangers.' This is good for kids around 10. A 10-year-old would relate better to a child of the same age. The Pooh characters are too childish for child of 10 to relate to."

Another Educational Media cassette dealing with the same issue is "Child Molestation: Breaking the Silence," for adults who supervise kids. One is now being filmed for September release with the tentative title, "Date Rape and Teen Sexual Abuse."

One problem with these cassettes is that they're not available for home video. The market for Educational Media is mainly schools and libraries; consequently the price is high--$225. Capuano said there are no plans to make the cassettes available in the home video market.

NEW AND COMING MOVIES: In the stores this week: "A Soldier's Story," the acclaimed drama about a murder at a black army base near the end of World War II, and the Tom Selleck movie, "Runaway," both on RCA/Columbia at $79.95.

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