Dance is often perceived by people as an art form that seems so graceful and effortless, yet a lot of hard work and hours of practice create an astounding and breathtaking routine. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned or one slip or fall can cost a dancer their entire career. Other times, being on the stage is extremely nerve-racking and the lights and music almost seem to add to the anticipation of a performance. On the other hand, some things that happen on stage or at dance practice are absolutely hilarious and unpredictable.
I remember one time in particular when I was dancing my heart out at practice and I didn’t tie my shoes really tight like I always do. I was doing this one particular step called a Cincinnati with a grab-off and it was extremely fast, with multiple in a row. I went for it knowing that my shoe had been falling off for about half of the dance but I had managed to slip my foot back in whenever there was a time-step. Everything was going just ok until my shoe was literally halfway off of my foot. In that minute the dancer within me took complete control and I made the conscious decision to kick the shoe off.
I just kept dancing like nothing happened because no matter what happens the show must go on, even if it was just at dance practice. So there I was tap dancing with one shoe on my foot as I laughed uncontrollably at my split-second decision to kick the shoe off. I finished the dance with a big grin on my face as my fellow dance family laughed with me in astonishment at what had just happened. Trust me when I say, when you tap dance for 13 years, a shoe falling off midway through a routine is not the worst possible scenario so you just keep on dancing.
Whenever you dance to music, there is always the possibility that there will be technical difficulties or errors, so you have to be prepared at all times. At this particular show, it was extremely hot in the room that we were tap dancing in and we were missing about three people in our dance routine. We tap danced to the song, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” a classic tap dancing song by Benny Goodman. My dance teacher has always said that if you could dance to “Sing, Sing, Sing,” you could dance to just about any other song. It is actually a challenging dance routine with a lot of ripples and frequent parts that were offbeat. Because of this, the dancers in the routine had to be skilled with musicality and precision. Of course, this dance was a challenge, but it was absolutely exhilarating.
The show was going very well and the audience was cheering with delight. Before we knew it, the ending of the dance seemed so close in our minds as we looked out at the sea of audience members. Then all of a sudden the music came to an abrupt stop right before the ending of the dance. Nut as show business says the show must go on so we continued dancing without the music because this is what we had practiced for so many times. Our dance teacher always told us that if the music stopped we should keep dancing. So there we were dancing acapella for about six counts of music and the noise of our tap shoe echoed towards the audience. We had nailed it perfectly with no music and we stood there looking scared but proud that we had just pulled it off.
So when in doubt you keep dancing even if the music stops. The truth is, you may hear the music you dance to, but the real instrument is your feet because they sing their own song of choice. No two tap dancers sound alike and that is the beauty of the music that is made with the feet. One mistake can ruin a whole dance, but being prepared can make all the difference in the world.