In tap dancing, every dancer is also a musician at the same time. Metal plates on the soles of the shoes ensure that each step creates its own sound. The possibilities are as unlimited as with drums: fast and slow rhythms can be quilted, loud or quiet, some are spontaneously improvised, others are painstakingly choreographed. Tap dance suits swing and pop music, salsa, waltz, jazz or blues. It can be danced alone or in a group. Everything is possible as long as it is fun.
Who should that be good for?
Tap dance is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. There are films of over 90-year-olds who are still quilting at breathtaking speed. But an hour of tap dancing can be as exhausting as an hour of jumping rope: There are various techniques, for example, in which the feet touch the ground for a few milliseconds and thus produce very specific sounds, which has the effect of a magic trick for outsiders. Some of these jumps have to be trained for years – and after each training session, the dancers are sweaty. According to sports scientists, tap dancing also promotes brain activity and creativity.
What does this cost?
Tap dance studios usually offer a free taster lesson for which you do not need your own quilting shoes. Often thereafter a contract with three months’ notice is closed, per month about 50 Euro course fees are due. Shoes for beginners are available from about 30 Euros, better models cost around 100 Euros. Typical of the tap dance scene is that professionals from all over the world travel around and teach workshops in various studios, for which one can register individually. These usually cost around 70 Euros for four hours of lessons.
What’s fun about it?
To learn new choreographies or sequences of steps, you have to concentrate heavily – which has the effect of forgetting everything else around you. There is only the rhythm, the music, the movement. And the joy when everything finally fits together.
The teacher pretends that the students are completing – this is only part of the tap dance. It gets really interesting when improvising, preferably with a live band. What could be better than dancing at the same time and being part of the band?
Tap dancing is like a language that is understood internationally. Joy, grief, anger – every feeling can be packed into a rhythm. Already in the 19th century, dancers in the US delivered themselves on the streets “duels”. Even today, wordless dialogues are the highlights of every jam session.
Whether in Europe, Australia or Africa – who takes his tap dance shoes, will find like-minded people everywhere. The scene is small, but warm. And not only when improvising newcomers are welcome. There are choreographies that know and dance tap dancers around the world.
Tap dancers make frequent use of syncopation. Choreographies typically begin on the eighth stroke, or between the eighth and first counts. Another aspect is improvisation. This can be done with any music and follow the blows provided or without musical accompaniment, if not known it is danced a cappella. Hoofers are tap dancers, who dance only with their legs, making a louder, grounded sound.
This kind of dancing tap, also called “rhythm tap”, is typically found in poor cities or areas. Most hoofers, such as Jr. by Sammy Davis, Savion Glover, and Gregory Hines, are black dancers. Dancers like Fred Astaire provided a different look, from the ballroom to tap the feet when dancing, while Genne Kelly used his extensive and extensive ballet training to incorporate it and create his own style. There is a wide variety of styles and techniques in the tap that dance different dancers and that is why there are different ways to name their steps and different ways of teaching.
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