Crazy Tap Dance Routines: The Worst & The Best

Any dancer will tell you that there are a handful of routines that either failed, flopped, or were altogether weird. Throughout my time as a tap dancer I can definitely say that some ideas do not translate well into tap dancing. In other words, if its seems unrealistic or dangerous, or downright crazy then it’s probably not a good idea.

I never thought in a million years that I would ever be dancing to a song about Spam, but it happened. And yes, I mean the wartime favorite mystery meat in the iconic blue can that is instantly recognizable. I think I was about ten years old when I learned the routine and I was so shocked that there was actually a song about Spam. I’ll never forget that song it was simply called Spam, and the band was called Save Ferris. The song was so catchy that I sang it for weeks, because when you dance to something over and over again it’s like you have a broken record that rattles your brain.

Make no mistake, it only gets even cringier from here. So I thought ok… It can’t be that bad right? Of course I was wrong! The routine had great structure to it but it was cheesier than a can of fake cheese. But the worst thing of all was the costume: a royal blue sequin skirt with velcro (a throwback to the flashy era of the 80’s), a leotard, and the most obnoxious yellow satin gloves. So, we were basically dancing cans of Spam! It just gets better and better because we also put Spam lunchboxes near the edge of the stage to add to the “Spam theme”

So, if you ever consider dancing to a song about food or the cringiest thing you can imagine, think again!

By far, one of the most memorable dances that I have ever performed was a routine to Disney’s Electrical Parade. But, we don’t just dance to it we perform to it! My dance teacher always has a lot of great ideas and this one is absolutely brilliant! The costume is simple: all black leggings and a leotard. But what makes it unique is the light-up pom-poms that dazzle the audience and leave them wondering how we pulled off a complex routine in the dark. That’s right, we turn off all the lights in the room and the only lights are our pom-poms and a string of lights on the edge of the stage, so we don’t fall) Then when we start dancing its like the whole stage comes alive because you may not see us dancing, but you hear us tap dancing and that is a truly unique experience.

Technically speaking, the routine involves a lot of arm movement with different formations to create cool illusions that wow the crowd. The magic of it is that the audience focuses on the lights from the pom-poms and the sound of the taps striking the floor. It takes a skilled and highly experienced dancer to perform in the dark with ten other people in front of a audience. In fact, we still perform this dance routine and it is my favorite because it’s unexpected yet exhilarating at the same time for both the audience members and the dancers.

Tap Dancing for the Soul

Only a dancer would truly know how one single performance can touch a person’s life forever or move them to tears of joy. As a dancer, you always want a great reaction from the audience because it means your performance resonated with others and put a smile on their face.

I can say that I’ve learned so much about dance, but it’s more than just learning a beautiful art form. It’s about sharing your passion and joy of dancing with others. The most rewarding part of being a dancer is seeing the smiles on people’s faces after you performed an absolutely stunning routine. Dance embodies the mind, soul, and body in a unique form that can’t be compared to anything else in the world.

Many dancers enjoy performing because the stage is often their sanctuary or safe haven. Dance is often interpreted as a story, and the music is an escape from the chaos and stress of everyday life. When a dancer takes the stage all their worries in life melt away and for a few minutes the world stops.

The connection between the dancer and the audience is something that a dancer will never forget. Dance touches people’s lives and when someone dances they leave a piece of their heart on the stage. The most important part of being a dancer is conveying your emotion to the audience.

A Tap Dancer’s Former Best Friend

Every dancer has that one friend who they can tell everything to and they know that they will be listened to. For me, it was my best friend in elementary school and junior high school. I met Jenna in first grade and before that I didn’t really have a best friend. Everyone knew us as Jenna and Avylon, the two best friends for first grade through eighth grade. To be honest our friendship had its ups and downs like any lasting friendship. At the time, Jenna was my best friend forever and ever or so I thought. We made so many amazing memories together that I’ll never forget.

In eighth grade we got into a huge verbal fight near the end of the school year. She didn’t even come to eighth grade graduation and I mentioned her in my speech. The last time I talked to her was the first day of freshman year. After that I called, texted, and no response. I didn’t really know what happened I thought we were best friends despite the fight. She told me that high school would break our friendship and she was afraid that I would forget about her in high school. But I didn’t, and I’ll never forget about her. I’ve thought about writing a letter to her and leaving it on her doorstep but I don’t know what I can say it’s been years since I’ve seen or talked to her.

I think about her everyday because I hope the best for her and her family. I’ve tried to find her social media accounts but I found nothing because I wanted to talk to her about what happened. I was a different person in junior high then I am now. I wish I could tell her that I’m not mad at her and I’ve learned so much from her. I’ve learned that a best friend is the most important person for a junior higher. Yesterday I found a picture of her and me on my computer hard drive and it felt like I was reliving our friendship.

A Tap Dancer’s Favorite Music

Tap dancing is a style of dance that can be accompanied by almost any music imaginable from country songs, a jazzy symphony, a classical tube, and of course an upbeat and lively song. Most tap dancers have a trained ear for music, meaning that they can differentiate different genres and styles of music as well as the different tempos, rhythms, and melodies. After all, tap dancers make their own music so it is very important that they have a deeper understanding of music and the several elements that are involved in one song. Because tap dancers perform to a wide variety of music, they often have a deeper appreciation for numerous styles of music. Tap dancers will typically dance to a blend of old and new music because tap dance was prevalent in the history of America and the culture of American society as a whole. But, everyone’s taste in music is completely different.

When people ask me about my taste in music I usually describe it as alternative rock like Imagine Dragons along with some pop and folk sprinkled in and some oldies like the Beatles. My absolute favorite band is Imagine Dragons because I love the rhythm and beat of their music and it always makes s me want to tap my toe and sing along. I love how their music is so different and original and there is nothing else like it. Also, most of their music has a hidden meaning that is about life experiences or their views on American culture.

I enjoy music that has meaningful lyrics, with an upbeat tempo, and catchy lyrics. which I think is very interesting and unique. I also love One Republic, American Authors, Ben Rector, Coldplay, Train, The Script, Bastille, Mumford & Sons, Twenty One Pilots, The Lumineers, The Score, Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars, Avicii, and the Beatles. I think that for a tap dancer music is like enjoying a day at the beach, it’s so peaceful, fun, and an escape from the daily activities of life. Music expresses our feeling, thoughts, moods, attitudes, and it can tell someone a lot about another person. Music is like a riddle or puzzle, the more and more you listen to it, the more you uncover a hidden meaning or a lyric that makes you think about your life.

My Tap Dancing Family

When you are a dancer for 14 years you meet so many amazing and talented people. My friends that I tap dance are my second family, we not only dance together, we have grown up together. The group that I dance with is not a studio but a service group so everyone has an even stronger bond because we all give back to our community through dancing.

The one thing that I love about my tap dance group is that we work as a team and we all look out for each other. Through dance I have made lifelong friends and unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. I think that dancing is a universal language and it brings a diverse group of people together. Dance is a major part of my life and the people who I dance with are also a huge part of my life.

Through dance I have learned to work together on a team while also teaching other people a unique art form. My dance family is so supportive and loving in everything that I do. They encourage me to be my best and do my best in dance and other extracurricular activities.

My friends at dance are some of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life. I can talk to them about absolutely anything and we can laugh until we cry. The Friday tap dancers are so adorable and it’s incredible to see them progress in dance as they grow up. Saturday class is always a blast and I look forward to it every single Saturday. My friends in Saturday class are amazing and crazy because we have so much fun together. When I’m at dance I feel like I am myself because I can express my creativity through choreography.

When I miss a week of dance I feel incomplete like something is missing in life. I’ve realized that dance is more than just dance its a place where I can be myself and enjoy time with people who I love. It’s a safe haven where I can talk about almost anything at anytime and I know that there will always be someone there to give me advice or support. My dance family is the absolute best thing about dance.

Saturday Class: Tap Dancing

Every single Saturday morning is a new experience, waking up at 6 a.m., getting ready for dance and rushing to the car with my tap shoes and water bottle in hand. We start by stretching and warming up our muscles with some basic tap steps like shuffles, flaps, etc. Saturday class is challenging but fun and I joined it when I was nine years old.

It is an amazing experience because I got to create a stronger bond with my fellow dancers and friends. We do so many fun activities besides tap dancing like sleepovers, going to the movies, having a fun beach day, and going out for breakfast together. We also have an annual field trip where we spend a whole day together usually at the San Diego Zoo or the Great Wolf Lodge.

Saturday Class changes people because it helps them perfect there technique in tap dancing while also teaching them how to work as one cohesive team. The one thing about tap dancing is that you work as a team and if one person fails the whole team. The craziest part of Saturday class is definitely technique and choreographing dances. Technique can involve something that my dance group calls drop-off. Many of us dread this but it is a great endurance builder. Five people stand in a straight line and the first person goes up to the mirror and back and on the way back the other dancer joins in and they up to the mirror and back with a step and they pick up another dancer. This continues until everyone has gone up and back to the mirror then the first person stops or “drops off” from the line. The last to people have to do the step double time. Drop-off is usually done with railroads or irishes, or other traveling steps. At the end we are all sweaty and gross, but it challenges us to persevere and build endurance while we are dancing.

Another fun part of Saturday class is choreographing dances to great music. We usually choreograph with about two people so we have more ideas and it will take less time. It’s always interesting trying new steps to new music and adding your own unique steps and elements.

A Tap Dancer’s Guide to Babysitting

Babysitting takes a lot of commitment, experience, and organization just like tap dance. The most important traits a babysitter can have are responsibility and patience. Little kids can be a handful but they are so much fun. Whenever I babysit it’s the best thing in the world because for two hours out of the day I feel like a kid again and I sit have to worry about school or homework. In a way, babysitting is definitely a stress reliever because I only have one responsibility to make sure the kids stay safe and happy.

Any good babysitter knows that the number one rule to follow is also the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared” You never really know what will happen when you babysit so always have a first aid kit in your babysitting bag. Being prepared for babysitting is like being prepared for dance. If you forgot one costume piece for a dance routine or one of the kid’s favorite toys the whole thing becomes a disaster.

NEVER EVER EVER let the kid out ofyour sight for even a second it can be disastrous.

ALWAYS ask the parents if they have food allergies or any other health concerns. Keep the poison control number and the parent’s number on speed dial at all times.

Make sure that you know if they have any pets and the rules regarding whether the pets are allowed inside it outside. One time when I was babysitting I lost track of the cat and I freaked out and almost started crying. But it was ok the cat was in the backyard the whole time.

Make sure you know the house rules and how the parents discipline their children. Time outs are ok and kids should be rewarded for being good.

Remember to have fun and be kind and get to babysitting on time all of the time. Punctuality and responsibility are key to developing trust when babysitting.

The best items to include in a baby sitting kit are:

  • I keep all of my babysitting stuff in a kid friendly pink backpack
  • Fun toys like plastic dinasours, action figures, legos, and toy cars.
  • Coloring books, colored paper, crayons, markers, etc.
  • First aid kit and emergency contact info
  • Stickers for rewarding kids
  • Fun games or puzzles that are age appropiate
  • Playdoh is great because it allows kids to be creative and artistic
  • Bracelet making crafts are also a fun hands on activity
  • Games like Twister and Connect Four are also fun

Choreographing Tap Dance

Choreographing any dance is an art form that takes patience, dedication, musicality, and creativity. Before you even began choreographing a dance you need to choose a song that will highlight a dancer’s capability while also intriguing the audience. In tap dance, a song with a good beat it rhythm is viral for a cohesive and interesting performance.

Music is so important to tap dancing because the music must be in time with the dance. This is because the audience is not only watching you dance, but they can best you dancing as well which means there is an even greater chance of someone hearing a minor mistake.

The level of difficulty in the dance is also important because you may be choreographing a dance for dancers of all skill levels and experience levels. Technique plays a key role in perfecting the steps and improving technique. Tap dancing is a bold and energetic style if dance so choreography most often includes a blend of both tap and jazz.

Choreographing with another person is extremely helpful because you can bounce ideas back and forth and have someone count while you choreograph. Choreograph ing can take anywhere from 30 mins to a few hours, depending on the level of difficulty and length of the song.

Dancers will usually choreograph after years of experience in dance and teaching others dance. Choreography can include turns, poses, dance steps, etc. Formations are extremely important in dance because draw the audience member’s eyes directly to the dancers. Some common types of formations include: a V, a Modified V, Columns, Rows, and Diagonal lines.

Ripples are when dancers do a turn or dance step at a specific time usually based off of a traditional eight count. Costuming helps depict a message to the audience while also providing colorful and exciting elements to the dance. Choreographing is a great experience for many dancers because they have the opportunity to showcase their artwork, while also learning leadership skills that can help them become a better dancer. Dancers work as a team, so choreography can be done in a group setting or individually.

Dancer or Musician?

As a young child I was always dedicated to dance my heart out even if it meant giving up my time, energy, and maybe missing out on another activity. I always told myself that above all other hobbies dance would always be number one because it means the world to me. None of the other hobbies I had as a child captivated my interest except for tap dancing. There was just something so special about it that I knew I would become a tap dancer for life.

Then, in 5th grade I decided to start playing the trumpet because I have always wanted to be in a band and make music for other just like tap dancing. But, I was not a skilled trumpet player and I rarely practiced because it didn’t captivate my interest in the same way that tap dancing did when I was three years old. The truth was that I felt so unhappy because I never wanted to play the trumpet, and it had been my dream to play the saxophone.

I was born with a hand deformity called syndactyly, which means that I am missing a bone in my left hand that affects my ring finger. So, I have very little movement in my ring and it is shorter than my pinky. That was the main reason why I played trumpet, becasuse it only had three valves that were played with the right hand. I never saw trumpet as something fun and I was too afraid to play the saxophone for fear that I couldn’t do it or I wouldn’t be good at it. Everyone told me that it was impossible to play the saxophone or that I simply “couldn’t” do it.

After about two years in trumpet I quit because it just wasn’t right for me. I realized that you will get nowhere in life if you let people tell you what you “can” and “can’t do.” If I could go back to 5th grade I would tell my past-self to play the saxophone instead of the trumpet. My brother had played the saxophone and I wanted to play it too to follow in his footsteps, but I chose to listen to other people so I never played the saxophone.

After that, I devoted myself in every way to tap dancing because I knew that it was even more of a dream to me than playing saxophone. I even told my mom that I would chose dance over both band and Girl Scouts.

Now, I realize that life is too short to limit yourself to what you “can” and “can’t do.” So I choose to do what makes me happy and that is tap dancing. I don’t let my hand deformity limit me anymore and I’m even taking ASL despite the fact that many people told me it would be next to impossible or too difficult. But I was up for a challenge and I began playing ukulele even though I can’t hit some of the notes perfectly. So, never let anyone else dream for you simply because you are the only one with your head in the clouds.

The Adult Tap Class

Every Friday night, for about 4 or 5 years I have helped teach the adult class in my tap group. It is such an amazing feeling to know that you can share your life passion with other people of any age. I have watched so many adult dancers learn one step after another until they have perfected a dance routine.

The unique thing about tap dancing is that you can learn it at any age without any prior dance experience. Teaching adults is different because it is almost a reversal of roles, meaning that an adult usually teaches you new skills or life lessons. But, by teaching the adult class I have learned so many new things like how to teach tap steps in a different way and how to help someone who are struggling to understand a new tap step.

Teaching the adult class had ultimately made me a better tap student because I can understand both point of views as a tap teacher and student. I think that teaching the adult class with other students is a great experience because I can practice tap while also sharing my knowledge of tap dancing with a different generation of people who have had many more life experiences than me.

I have also learned that teaching an adult class is extremely different from teaching a tap class to kids. Adults seem to have a better understanding of the music and the overall structure of the steps. In addition, adults often have more input in the choreography of their dances. Adults may also have a different taste in music than the kid tap class.

By teaching tap dance to the adult class, I have had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes in dance while also becoming a better teacher. Being both the teacher and the student is a great way to learn new techniques in dance while also improving your skill level.

I truly love teaching the adult class because they are so funny and they are not afraid to have fun dancing. I think that more adults should try tap dancing because it is a great interactive hobby and it gives people the chance to perform for others and have fun all at the same time.