Tap dance is a lively and entertaining activity that transforms the dancer from a mere performer into a fully-fledged percussive instrument. Taking its name from the tapping sound created by dancers’ feet, it’s now a popular style around the world, take a look at our guide to tap dancing.
Introduction to tap
Modern-day tap has evolved from a number of different sources to become one of the most distinctive dancing styles in the world today. Although an American theatrical dance, tap originated from 17th Century clog dances in northern England, African foot stamping, and traditional Gaelic jigs.
Tap is as much about creating sound as it is physical performance. The rhythmic tapping noise made by the metal plates of dancers’ shoes is meant to chime with syncopated choreography and improvisation. Tap dancers may perform to music, or simply dance acapella, using nothing but the steady beat of their feet as a rhythm.
After being adopted by a number of early US musicals, tap dancing has grown significantly in popularity and is now enjoyed by a wealth of performers across the globe.
- Boost cardiovascular performance – If performed at a high intensity for 15 to 30 minutes, tap dancing offers great exercise for the cardiovascular system, working out the heart and lungs so they function more efficiently.
- Tone leg muscles – Tap dancing offers a great way of toning your lower-body muscles by optimising the thighs and quads.
- Reduce the risk of high blood pressure – If you suffer from high blood pressure, tap dancing could offer an effective way of bringing it down. Tap dancing gets blood flowing around all the body’s major muscle groups, causing arteries to dilate and contract more effectively.
- Burn fat – If you’ve been trundling on a treadmill for what feels like an eternity, maybe it’s time to try something new. Tap dancing is a surprisingly effective activity if you want to burn calories quickly. Depending on the intensity of your tap workout, anywhere between three and four hundred calories can be burnt off.
The Basic steps
Although tap dancing has grown from a number of disparate sources, modern-day tap is made up of a variety of key steps. These include the following:
Toe dig & heel drop – This move sees the dancer step so that the ball of their foot comes down first, just before the heel. This way, two distinct sounds are created.
The stamp – Here, the dancer puts his or her foot down sharply, with both the ball of the foot and the heel loudly hitting the ground at the same time to create one big tap.
The brush – In this step, the dancer swings his or her leg forwards and backwards, with the ball of the foot brushing the floor during the sweep.
Toe Knock – involves using the top ot our toe, or the end of our tap shoe to knock the floor. You can vary the position of the knock, to cross behind, be parallel or out to the side. Just like with the heel dig, we can switch legs easily, by stepping onto the ball of the foot which becomes our supporting leg, lift the working leg and knock the toe.
Ball Change – In tap, there are several different ways to shift your weight from one foot to the other, but the ball change is by far the most common. In order to pull it off perfectly, make sure that only your toe tap makes the noise. First, stand with your feet side by side but not touching. Now lift your heels, so that only your the balls of your feet are in contact with the floor. Next, place your right foot behind you, and rock back onto the ball of it. As you do so, your left foot should completely leave the floor for a moment. Now switch feet and do the same thing, rocking your weight from one ball to the next.
What to expect from your first class
Tap dance does require some initial investment before you book a place in a class. Buying a good pair of tap dancing shoes is vital to ensure that you don’t do any damage to your feet and so that you can hear the distinctive sounds in the rhythms you are creating. Ask our staff for advice if you are unsure of what to look for when choosing a pair of tap shoes.
Our tap classes at Dance Kix are super friendly, with welcoming teachers able to deal with your initial fears and nerves. They are skilled in breaking down the steps and working with you at your pace, so don’t worry about being left dazed and confused.
If tap dancing is something that tickles your fancy, why not give it a try!