What is Tap dancing?
Let’s start off with the basics … what is tap dancing?
Tap is a style of dance, where you create rhythms with your feet while simultaneously forming patterns and shapes with your body. The sounds are made with specifically designed shoes that have two metal plates on the bottom, known as ‘taps’. By wearing these shoes and making small, intricate and precise movements with your feet, you can make unusual and interesting rhythms – just like a musician!
1) Did you know that dancers can be musicians too?
Honestly, it’s true! When you tap dance, you create rhythms with your feet that seamlessly blend in with the music you are dancing to, almost like an added instrument or drum beat. Alternatively, you can compose your music using your feet! Just like Ed Sheeran, you can grab yourself a loop pedal, record your feet making a variety of rhythms, listen back and you will have composed a multi-layered rhythm. For many this an exciting way to express your musicality and sense of rhythm at the same time as performing like the true dancer you are.
Many athletes learn how to tap dance because it helps with their timing and rhythm – it can really help if you are trying to develop your boxing, running or athletic skills for example.
2) There are a mixture of styles to get your teeth into
From its roots in North America, tap dance has grown into a vital part of jazz and musical culture throughout the world. Since its increase in popularity, it has developed into many different styles, but the two most popular you see today are ‘Jazz/Rhythm Tap’ and ‘Broadway Tap’.
In the UK we are traditionally ‘Broadway Tappers’, which is the style you would see in musicals such as ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘42nd Street’ or old Hollywood movies, like ‘Top Hat’ and ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. However, in the last 10 years or so, we have become much more influenced by the Rhythm tap scene. This style is more about creating unusual and exciting rhythms, and making your feet go really fast! While this style is more about the rhythm rather than the performance and patterns, it is still really engaging to watch.
Learning a mixture of all these styles is amazing, because it means you will never get bored and you will always be able explore and enjoy new ways to make rhythms with your feet – you could even develop your own hybrid style!
3) It’s a lot of fun and relieves stress!
Have you ever seen a tap dancer perform and thought “They are having the time of their life!” – well that’s because they are!
Tap dancers are very passionate about their craft and I think this is because ultimately it a really fun and relaxed hobby. Yes, it takes strength, practice and stamina to do the really challenging steps, but you can start at any age and everyone finds it a pure joy to learn.
To pick up the intricate details of tap dancing you need to concentrate, therefore, during the class you are only focused on learning the steps or routines the teacher gives you. This means you forget about all of your other stresses for that moment in time. Plus there’s something about letting your hair down and dancing to your favourite music that completely relaxes you and releases endorphins, so tap dancing can absolutely help to reduce stress and increase positivity.
4) It improves your balance
What you might not realise about tap dancing, is it requires a lot of balance. One of the first things you will learn in a tap class is that you need to be on the balls of the feet 90% of the time – just like a tennis player! This helps you to move, transfer your weight and change direction quickly and easily, which help you in turn make faster and more complex rhythms.
You also have to practice standing on one leg, because while one foot is making the interesting sounds, the other leg is holding you up or is getting ready to jump and/or turn!
Don’t worry though, this will all come with time and will be practiced in class. So if you struggle with your balance don’t let this put your off, tap dancing is a fantastic was to improve and develop this!
5) It helps with your fitness
While tap dancing looks fairly calm, it actually burns a lot of calories. It is mostly aerobic exercise, especially when you get to learn the more complicated steps and routines. There is a lot of jumping and fast footwork that gets your heart pumping during a tap class, alongside the toning of the legs as a result of all this hard work.
If you ask me, it’s a great way to exercise that is fun and engaging – I hardly notice I am burning calories because I am having too much fun!
And there you have it, 5 reasons we love tap dancing! There are so many more and we will definitely delve into those in a future blog. For now, we’d love to hear some of the reasons why you enjoy tap dancing, so please go ahead and comment below!
Don’t forget to let us know what other themes or thoughts you’d like us to chat about on our blog. We will be writing much more regularly on our blog this year, so keep an eye out for our posts!