Thomas Maupin (born 1938) of Murfreesboro, Tennessee was raised in the small town of Eagleville, Tennessee at a time when community square dances were still common and his family was known for its dancers.
Maupin himself was an exceptional dancer from an early age and had a
special love for the flat-foot steps, but it wasn't until middle age
that he gained notoriety for his buck dancing talent when he began
entering dance competitions in the 1970s. After he was
married and began raising a family, he was employed in an aircraft
factory; the result was a 15-year hiatus from dancing. With his
children grown and with the emergence of regional old-time music
contests, Maupin returned to dancing and became an active competitor.
When he began dancing in the mid-1970s, he became a mainstay at music
contests and was a favorite among the old-time string bands who
worked with him.
Over the next 30 years, he won over 60 championships throughout
Tennessee and the South. More recently he has been concerned with
inspiring more appreciation for his dance heritage through exhibition
performances, workshops, and teaching, often accompanied by his
grandson, banjo player Daniel Rothwell.
He is a recipient of the Tennessee State Governor's Folklife Heritage
Award, Old-Time Herald Heritage Award and the Uncle Dave Macon Days
Trailblazer Award and has won over 60 first place titles including
the National Championship which he has won 6 times as well as State
Championships in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
He has been the subject of the film Let Your Feet Do The Talkin,
which has been shown on The Documentary Channel.
When performing Maupin is most animated from bent knees to shoe
soles, his form firmly anchored at his waist as his upper body
swivels as he gracefully balances on his toes and heels.
Distinguished by his impressive crisscrossing and scissor steps,
Maupin is known to dance at times without instruments.
In the 2000s, Maupin began a musical partnership with his grandson
Daniel Rothwell, an award-winning traditional banjo player. Their
relationship was portrayed in the 2010 documentary Let Your Feet Do
the Talkin’. In 2009 Maupin was given the Trail Blazer Award from
the Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival and in 2011 he earned the
Tennessee Governor’s Folklife Heritage Award.
Maupin has evolved a deceptively simple artistic philosophy: follow
the note of the tune, dance the music that you hear, and make your
feet say something.