TAP DANCE FAQ
What is tap dancing? A rhythmic type of dance where dancers tap their feet (in tap shoes) against a hard surface to create sound and rhythm.
What is the history of tap dancing? I'm going to defer to the following sites on this one:
What age should I start tap dancing? Any age. I often hear adults say they are too old to learn to tap dance, but the adults I teach and the ones I talk to who are taking lessons online, universally enjoy it. In fact I find adults learn quite a bit faster than children. Also most adults aren't out to be the best tappers in the world, they just want to enjoy the experience and get a little exercise doing it.
You don't have to start at age 3 to be really good either. Some tappers don't get into it until their late teens or early twenties. With a good amount of practice, practically anyone can be good.
Our Beginner Lessons Below Are a Great Place to Start!
What type of tap shoes should I get? That depends. If you want a really high caliber shoe you might try a Miller and Ben shoe, a Just Tap shoe, a Capezio K540, or a Bloch Jason Samuel Smith shoe. A beginner might just want to start out with a Capezio CG55 or similar. Don't get the bottom of line bargain basement tap shoes. They are cheap for a reason. I would recommend starting out with a mid-
How much should I practice? How good do you want to to be? Two half hour practice sessions a week will yield decent progress. If you really want to get good fast, try a half hour to an hour every day.
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How many classes should I take a week? As many as you can! The more you take, the better you will get.
Who should I take from? Just about anyone. Taking from a variety of teachers will quickly broaden your vocabulary and give you a wide array of techniques to pull from when you need them. Are there bad teachers out there you should avoid? Sure. How do you spot them? Look for teachers who are not specific in demonstrating or teaching a step and who cannot give you clear and detailed answers to your questions. A good teacher usually has a specific way they want you to do steps and a good reason why. Your teacher should be able to explain those clearly to you.
Can you really learn how to tap by watching videos? Yes and no. You can learn steps and technique but if you really want to pursue this art-
What kind of floor should I use? DON'T TAP ON CEMENT! This can do serious damage to your body. I tap on laminate wood flooring laid over top of 2 layers of exercise mat (for cushion). You could get a 4ft by 4ft piece of plywood or particle board (3/4 inch thick or more -
I can't get my shuffles (flaps, brushes, etc.) clean. What should I do? Be patient. Clean sounds take time. Some things you can do to clean your sound include:
1. Imagine dipping your toe tap in paint. Every time you brush, shuffle, flap, etc. imagine painting dots with your tap as opposed to stripes.
2. Flex your foot more and sooner. Immediately after the ball tap hits the floor it needs to be lifted off of it. If it stays against the floor even for a second it can scrape. Getting it off the floor faster prevents it from staying down long enough to scrape. This takes practice.
3. DON'T point your toes. This goes with number 2 above but is worth saying again. Pointing leads to scraping.
4. Adjust the placement of your first sound. For instance if you're doing a flap and scraping the first sound every time, it's possible when your foot first touches the floor during the first sound, it's touching the floor several inches or more behind you. If you try to make it touch the floor either in line with the other foot or slightly in front of the other foot you may have more success. This can only be taken so far though. If you make the first sound too far in front of you, you'll have a host of other problems crop up. This works for shuffles as well.
I can't do pullbacks (pick-
1. Travel backwards more. Even more. Even more. Traveling more results in students getting sounds a lot of the time. Don't lean forward and look down or you'll fall.
2. DON'T point your toes. That will result in scrapes.
3. DON'T lift your feet more than 4-
4. Relax or tighten your ankles. This is different for everyone. If your ankles are too tight/stiff you won't get sounds. In that case relax them more. If they are too relaxed/floppy you might have trouble getting sounds, in that case tighten them. On a scale of 1-
What can I do to get wings? There are different techniques for wings. I'll walk you through mine. First of all when you scrape out (notice I did not call it a brush -
Also, as the feet scrape out make sure your weight is going upwards so that it's not pushing down against your feet causing pain.
The next problem is how/when to get the spank in. I teach my students to try to get the spank sound when their feet are at their furthest outward point. Now technically if you watched me do wings you would see me do the spank a little bit in (say 3-
Next I recommend that IMMEDIATELY after the spank you try to lift your feet UPWARDS as they come in before they finally land. This is VERY HARD to do and there isn't much time to do it. It will keep your spanks and landing separated though. How much should you lift? Probably as much as you can, but an inch or two should make a difference.
How do I get into a tap company / What should I do to pursue tap after high school? Good questions. There are many different perspectives on this so I'll give you mine. First of all you need to be good. Very good. And not just good feet, though that will get you far. People want the whole package: good feet, good performer, good teacher, good choreographer, and versatile (can jazz dance too). If you have all that going for you then you need to get in front of the right people often. Who are the "right" people? I'm actually not the best person to answer that since I sort of do my own thing. Go to all the big tap festivals and workshops you can. The people teaching at those are probably the "right" people. Introduce yourself to them. Be in front of them as much as possible. Tell them you're interested in being a part of any projects they might have going. Ask them what you need to do to get where you want to be. If you are a stand out in their classes, are nice to them, and make it a point to be seen by them, they will learn who you are. Then, when they need a really good tapper like you, there's a chance they will call upon you.
As for tap in college....well it depends. I'm not aware of a college tap program that is top notch and is getting people great tap jobs. There may be one, I just haven't heard of it. As for college or no college that's a tough one. I think college could be used to augment your tapping -
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Choosing the best floor for your personal situation.
Vital info about tap shoe fit.
Choosing the best tap studio for your personal situation.
Tap Dance Dictionary*
Video demonstrations of 315 tap steps.
Steps, definitions, & counts all written out.
Videos organized alphabetically & by difficulty (syllabus).
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