Tap: What is there not to love?

Let's talk about a style of dance that we think is very important...

Quick history:

Over 300 years, tap has evolved from the blending of British and West African step-dance, which was considered sacred and ceremonial. Tap came to the Southern United States around the 1700s. Back then, the shoes were hard-soled shoes, clogs or hobnailed boots. It wasn't until the early twentieth century that the shoes transformed to include metal plates on the ball of the foot and the heel. At that time, tap was called "jigging" and it was performed by minstrel-show dancers.


Early tap shoe - hobnailed boots


Modern day tap shoes (These type of tap shoes first made their debut on the Broadway stage)

The Passage of Time

In the 1940s: Tap absorbed Afro-Caribbean and Latin American rhythms.

In the 1980s and 1990s: Tap absorbed hip-hop rhythms.

Tap continuously grew and evolved by people listening and watching and trying new rhythms, timing and steps. Technique in tap was, and still is, passed on by mimicry, and by listening to teachers, musicians, and rhythms of the world around you.

Tap has a strong history, shared and created by both white and black communities, that bring everyone together to create and challenge growth.

Tap History Celebrities:

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson - Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1878, he made money by singing and dancing in the street. By the 1920s, he had become a headliner in New York. Dancing to different tones, pitches and rhythms, he is known as the "King of Tap Dancers." Even Langston Hughes described his dancing as, "human percussion."

John Sublett Bubbles - Credited with inventing "rhythm tap," which involved the dropping of the heels for accents. Bubbles teamed up with Ford Lee "Buck" Washington, and the two worked together in shows revolutionizing tap dancing with over-the-tops and new rhythms. Before Bubbles and Buck, tap dancers danced on their toes or balls of their feet.

However, in the 1950s, tap suffered a decline in popularity. Part of this was because vaudeville shows stopped. Tap simply became... looked over, neglected, practically put on the shelf to collect dust and be forgotten. Between 1960 through 1980, tap slowly began to find its momentum again.

Dancers like Gregory Hines and Savion Glover brought tap back into the popular domain, making tap "cool" again.

Why Tap is Important:

1. You will understand rhythm far better once you understand tap.

2. You will feel music differently.

3. You will experience the world and dance differently.

4. You tap into a world of rhythms, tones and expressions.

5. Your balance will be stronger and more secure.

6. You learn to use your feet and ankles as tools to manipulating sounds.

7. Tap is a window to creation: You can create what you hear, and uncover what is hidden underneath.

8. You build confidence in your ability.

9. You learn patience, as tap requires patience and hard work.

10. You feel the history in every move: where a move came from, and the path it took to reach your feet.

Tap + Education

Learning math is difficult. But learning tap is fun & math related!

1 = step

2 = flap or shuffle

3 = shuffle step or flap heel

You can learn to manipulate different combinations using either the ball of the foot, the toe or heel, or side of the shoe... the combinations seemed endless!

Then speed, speed, speed, focus, focus, focus. Free the ankle, use the leg muscles, breathe. Go.

Tap, in a way unlike any other dance form, challenges the dancer to push their limits, both physically and mentally, while constantly creating new rhythms. What is there not to love?

Ivory Wheeler and Dianne Walker

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

Tap will always carry on, regardless of how popular or unpopular it may become. It'll always be there, living and breathing in the background of all music and all dancing.

For more information on Tap's History

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Design & Development by Shane Jeffers