5, 6, 7, 8… go break a leg or maybe a toe. Tap dancing is a true art form, but it is more difficult than it looks. Dancers wear special black leather shoes with metal taps attached to the bottom sole of the shoe. The taps shoes have a slight heel which allow for different tones and rhythms. The metal taps can also be adjusted by tightening or loosening the screws, which creates deeper or lighter sounds. But tap dancing is not all about the shoe. In fact, a tap dancer’s most important tools are their feet, toes, and knees.
Tap dancers also have to have an immense amount of coordination and musicality. Timing is the key to unlocking the wonderful world of tap dancing. The audience is more likely to recognize a mistake in a tap routine than a jazz or ballet routine. This is partly because tap dancing is not only seen but it is also heard. Tap dancing is one of few styles that needs no music at all because the dancing is the music.
Tap dancing was formed from a variety of cultures, that came from an array of people with different backgrounds. It all started with Juba, a dance form that was started by African American slaves. Juba later combined with Irish clog dancing, which created a new style of dance that we now know as tap dancing. Before medal taps were placed on dance shoes, people would wear wooden shoes. Since tap was first created, it has taken the world by storm. Shockingly, there was a time period where tap dancing died out. But, it was later revived and once again took the world by storm. Notable tap dancers include Fred Astaire, Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, and Shirley Temple.Tap dancing has also greatly contributed to entertainment and film. Several movies have featured tap dancing which has intrigued many movie-goers worldwide.
Many tap dancers will dance acapella, which means without music. This creates a unique experience for the audience because they concentrate on the sounds of the taps, rather than the sounds of the music. However, this also creates a challenge for the tap dancer, as they must make sure that their taps are crisp and clean, not muffled or inaudible.
To many tap dancers, they only know the numbers 1-8, which is the count for tap dancing. Who said ballet dancers are the only ones who can go on their tip toes? Tap dancers have the unique ability to go up on their toes, by utilizing a part of the tap shoe called the “toe box.” The toe box is firm and strong, hence the name.
There are two types of tap shoes: split or soft-soled shoes and hard-soled shoes. It is recommended that beginners start in hard sole tap shoes because they provide the most support and control. More experienced dancers usually prefer to wear split-soled shoes as they allow the dancer to move their foot easier. However, split-soled shoes are usually more expensive and don’t last as long as hard-soled tap shoes. Tap shoes can range from price between $50-$300 depending on the style, size, brand, and the skill level of your dancing.
Personally, I prefer to buy Bloch tap shoes because they are very sturdy and affordable, and they also provide high quality sounds and have a sleek leather design. I don’t prefer Capezio because of the shape of the shoe and the sound quality. In my opinion, Capezio tap shoes are lower quality than Bloch tap shoes.
It is essential that you buy the right size of tap shoe. The tap shoe should fit snugly like a glove, but should not be cutting off the circulation to your toes. If you buy split-soled shoes, you should buy one to one-and-a-half sizes smaller than your street shoe size. On the other hand, if you buy hard-soled shoes, you should buy one to two sizes larger than your normal shoe size. Socks should also be worn while wearing tap shoes to provide extra cushioning and support.
Tap dancing takes practice, perseverance, and determination. Tap dancers will often practice hours a day or week to perfect their craft. As a tap dancer of twelve years I can definitely say that it is harder than it looks.
Common tap steps include: shuffles, flaps, breaks, wings, irishes, buffalos, shim-shams, time steps, and pullbacks. However, many different tap steps have several names and several ways of doing the step.
There are many styles and forms of tap dancing like jazz tap, classic tap, and Broadway tap. These styles sometimes combine elements of jazz or ballet.Tap dancing can be done competitively or just for fun. Either, way it is truly a unique art form that still amazes people today.