Ride of a lifetime

When Josh Johnson laced up his tap shoes and stepped onto the New York City subway to perform for the first time, he had no idea where that train ride would eventually take him.

A freshman at Penn State Altoona, Johnson was simply looking for a way to earn money to pay his tuition bill. Now a junior, Johnson’s inaugural ride has turned into the ticket to not only paying the bills, but to the ride of a lifetime.

If you asked high school freshman Johnson if he could see himself tap dancing to raise money as a college freshman, he likely would have laughed. An avid basketball player, Johnson had never even laced up a tap shoe, let alone thought much of the art. But, when his New York City high school became a performing arts school, all students were forced to participate in some form of the arts. Johnson, along with some of his basketball teammates and a few other “really horrible kids,” simply refused. The rebels were put together in a room for about an hour each day and, to do something to keep them out of trouble, the school hired a tap dancer to come in.

“Everyone thought they were crazy; that’s the answer to our problem?” said Johnson. “But this guy came in, and we were kind of laughing at him, but when he started doing his thing, we were like ‘wow, do it again.’” Getting on their level, the tapper engaged Johnson and some of the others. “It was the funniest thing; we looked around at each other and asked ‘how did we end up tapping?’ But that’s how I got started.”

Read more of Johnson's story at www.altoona.psu.edu/ivyleaf/t.php?v=057001002 online.

Last Updated March 19, 2013