Tap dancing is iconic. Through classic films like Singin’ in the Rain and the work of Gene Kelly, to the beloved scenes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, to modern children’s work like Happy Feet, tap dancing has captivated audiences for generations.
Tap is unique amongst the typical styles you’d find at a dance studio in North America, a rhythmic form of dance involving making sounds with the metal plates on your shoe. With its roots in both African and Irish dance traditions, tap has evolved to encompass many sub-styles and philosophies. If you’re a beginner dancer eager to explore the world of tap, keep reading for first steps on how to get started as an adult tap dancer or young beginner tap dancer.
Buying Tap Shoes
Like starting out in any new discipline, you need the right tools! Finding the right pair of tap shoes will be essential, both for comfort and utility. Tap shoes have metal plates attached to the ball and heel, creating distinct sounds when they come in contact with the floor. There is a large spectrum for tap shoes, where you can scale from cost-effective, lightweight, beginner tap shoes to multi-hundred dollar weighted tap shoes. Start with a more basic pair, like Capezio’s Tic Tap Toe Oxford Tap Shoes while you test the waters in this new genre. Later, you can progress to a pair of the highly lauded Bloch’s Jason Samuel Smith Tap Oxford. The latter shoe has triple stacked wood in the heel, to provide extra weight and improve your tap sounds. Upgrading your shoe is something to look forward to after you master the beginner tap steps.
Tap Dance Studios Near Me
Check out the incredible Tap Dancing Resources studio directory! Navigate easily by country and province, to find the specialty tap dance studios in your area.
Finding Your Rhythm
Tap dance is all about rhythm, and the best way to find yours is by starting with simples steps. Below, we’ll get you started on shuffles, toe taps, and heel drops. In tap, you’ll learn to move and strengthen muscles in your feet you might’ve never consciously engaged before!
Beginner Tap Steps
If you’d rather practice at home (hopefully you’re not in an apartment!) or just warm-up before class, here are some basic tap steps to build your foundation. We would suggest putting your hand on the wall or on a chairback for balance, like a makeshift barre.
The shuffle is the first step you’ll learn in tap class. It involves a quick back-and-forth movement of a foot, creating a 2 syllable “shu-ffle” sound. Practice this step slowly at first, gradually increasing your speed as you gain confidence.
Toe Tap and Heel Drop
Add toe taps and heel drops to your repertoire, they’re the basis of many more complex steps. A toe tap is exactly how it sounds: lift your foot and tap just the toe (or front metal plate) to the floor. Next, experiment with standing on the ball of your feet and dropping your heel, continue lifting and dropping and find your rhythm.
The flap is another essential tap step. In class, you’ll likely hear it spoken as “fa-lap”, because it involves two sounds: a brush forward with the ball of the foot, followed by planting the ball of the foot on the ground. Remember not to let the heel of your foot touch the floor and accidentally add an extra sound.
Learning tap dance as a beginner is exciting and rewarding. Remember to be patient with yourself and enjoy the process, it takes time to master the foundations of tap before you can dance Gene Kelly’s choreography. Tap is kind of like jazz, and once you’ve built your repertoire, you can mix and match to create entire rhythmic sequences. So, lace up those tap shoes and embark on this new creative avenue.