Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Tap dance is steeped in history. American masters such as Harold Nicholas (The Nicholas Brothers), Chuck Green, Jimmy Slyde, Sandman Sims, Leonard Reed and Bill Robinson shaped the dance form into what it is today. Tap dance is very much an oral and demonstrated tradition with skills, steps and choreography passed from teacher to student for generations. There is a certain reverence for the masters that motivates and inspires students even today. The legendary Shim Sham Shimmy has been done by tap dancers for over one hundred years… and still entertains and inspires those who see it as it did in Vaudeville times.
Tap dance is music making. It makes you smarter. Tap dancing consists of learning rhythm patterns. Learning and memorising patterns is a great workout for your brain. And it’s all math. Repeating, reversing and counting the rhythm patterns reinforces math concepts that younger students are learning in school. And for the adults and seniors… we all know that mental exercise promotes healthy brain activity and can help ward off disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. So get tapping!
Tap dance is one of the only dance genres you are meant to hear. Learning to tap dance is basically learning to play an instrument. Rhythm patterns and clear sounds make this art form so intriguing to the ear. Couple that with upper body movement and traveling around the stage and you’ve got a feast for the senses. The audience can not only enjoy the visual creativity of the performance, but also the rhythm patterns over the chosen music… or even tap dancing making the music all by itself. It adds a whole new dimension to the art of dance.
Tap dance works the core for improved balance and is a great workout. Knowing where the body’s weight should be and when to shift the weight from one foot to the other is essential for proper tap technique. One of the first things you should learn in any tap class is proper weight placement over the balls of the feet with soft knees and an engaged core. Training the muscle memory in this way improves balance, coordination and control. And the benefits of a strong core are numerous, including less back pain and risk of falling. Sometimes we have to dance for 10+ minutes without any break!
Tap dance is portable. While many dance genres would need a wide-open space for performance, tap dance is traditionally quite humble…fitting itself into life and appearing on street corners, in dance halls and anywhere where enthusiasts gather. Tap dance can be practiced literally anywhere. And you don’t need your tap shoes on to do it! The aisles of the food store are great for traveling steps. The bathroom floor is a great practice space while brushing teeth, or in front of the copier at work. Under your desk during math class (quietly) is a great place to practice patterns… any place the feet have a bit of room to move. It’s contagious!
Tap dance makes lots of noise! Whether you are 3 or 103, everyone loves to make a little noise now and then. Tap dancing can be a uniquely satisfying physical and emotional release because of its ability to produce sound. For children who are constantly being told to sit down and be quiet, being allowed to stand up and make noise can be particularly cathartic. Tap dance holds the same therapeutic benefits for teens, adults, seniors…anyone looking to find their voice.
“I started my tap dancing lesson with Anthony shortly after my 73rd birthday. It was so much fun that I immediately bought shoes and practice board to seriously go on this tapping journey.Alas, my body took on a turn and I had to give it a break.As soon as I get over the pain in my legs (from detox) Tapping and Drumming are the two lessons I shall resume immediately.Anthony is a great teacher not only for tapping, but he truly has the knowledge of a person's anatomy and the exercises we did in class is remarkable.“
Everyone loves to watch a tap dance. Tap dance is a crowd pleaser every time! I’ve never seen a somber audience during a tap performance…or a somber performer for that matter. Senior citizens love to watch tap dance…so do preschoolers. Whether we are watching or participating, tap dance is an all-American art form that everyone seems to enjoy.
Tap dance is a very social art form, a way of communication through sounds and rhythms. Throughout the history of tap dance, performers have come together for friendly competition, tap offs and “conversations” had through sound. Tap dance has even been used in African and Irish cultures as a way of communicating without words. American tap dance as we know it today is a unique blend of its African and Irish roots that met and merged in the early part of the 20th century in casual settings and even on street corners before moving to the Vaudeville stage.
Everyone can do it! Tap dance is popular among the preschool set and senior citizens…and everyone in between. Whether you are a young child just starting dance lessons, or an adult who has always secretly wanted to try… there is a class and a level for you. Tap dance is not a traditionally “girly” dance form either. Many famous tappers today are men who make tap dance look decidedly masculine. Check out Savion Glover or the hit show “Tap Dogs”. Tap dance can be adapted for every fitness level and skill level. And it still looks and sounds terrific.
Pure joy. Swinging and flapping is such a simple joy of life. Breathing through those rhythms and practice improvisation is a fundamental of tap dancing.
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