Madonna Meagher: Zap & Tap

  • May 1, 2017
  • by Laura Di Orio

Last July 2016, 61-year-old Madonna Meagher bought her first pair of tap shoes – Capezio’s Fluid Tap – after a college friend had been begging her to take up tap lessons. A week later, Meagher was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, a very aggressive, invasive cancer that would require 52 weeks of chemotherapy, as well as six-and-a-half weeks of Monday-Friday radiation treatments and infusions every three weeks.

For a while, busy with medical appointments, Meagher had to put her tap shoes aside. But during her weeks of radiation treatments, her college dance instructor, David Potter, was just 30 minutes away. So Meagher and her friend ventured to their private tap lesson after an appointment. She called it “Zap & Tap”.

“It wasn’t easy to tap,” Meagher says. “At nearly 62 and a woman of a certain girth, it’s really hard to look at yourself in full-length mirrors, but I did it. And when I got tired about 25 minutes into the lesson, I just stopped. Oh, but what fun we had.”

While she only had three lessons, Meagher says she felt such happiness lacing up her black Fluid Tap shoes fresh out of their bright red Capezio box. There, she says, she could “forget about my scars and my burns and my poisoning.”

On March 10, Meagher went in for her 32nd and final radiation, or “zap”, treatment, and again she strapped on her shoes and tapped it out.

“With my three beginner tap lessons behind me, I tried the shim sham but hadn’t perfected it yet,” she recalls. “So I went to the f-lap, f-lap, f-lap and then many small tap-a-taps. The radiation techs were so happy, all smiles, and of course, they gave me a round of applause. After my treatment, I received a diploma!”

She credits Capezio for creating joy in her cancer treatment life, and she is thankful to the company for making a tap shoe that is affordable for a beginner recreational student and one that comes in large and wide sizes.

“I am a rank beginner, but what is special is that tap is just a happy dance,” Meagher says. “Sure, it can be a stomp and a thud and have a mood of solemnity, but for me, the lacing up of the shoes and clicking away and listening to the rhythm is a powerful connection to life.”

Meagher will continue her infusions until this October, but she’s found a tap class at a local senior center and attends once a week. She’s made it into the intermediate level and will perform a routine in a Tap Fest talent show in June.

“I am thankful that for an hour or less once a week, I can transport myself out of my cancer treatments with their side effects and think about something else, something happy, something that connects to the soul,” Meagher says. “The pulse, the tap, the rhythm of life.”

Article produced by Dance Informa.

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