As soon as you hear the sound of the taps hitting the floor, you can’t help but feel the rhythm and energy of tap dance. With its rich history and various styles, tap dance has been a popular form of dance for generations. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting to explore the world of dance, learning about the different styles of tap dance can open up a whole new world of creativity and expression. From Jazz Tap to Rhythm Tap, each style has its unique techniques, steps, and musicality. Join us on this journey to discover the beauty and complexity of tap dance.
History of Tap Dance
Have you ever wondered about the origins of tap dance? This unique style of dance has a rich history that spans back over a century. Tap dance has evolved and transformed over time, but its roots continue to shape the dance even today. From the early days of minstrel shows to its incorporation in musical theatre and beyond, tap dance has a place in the cultural history of America. In this section, we will explore the history of tap dance and its evolution through time.
The Origins of Tap Dance
Tap dance, as its name suggests, involves hitting the floor with one’s shoes in a rhythmic pattern, creating a tapping sound. This dance form has its origins in African American and Irish American cultures. In the early 1800s, African American slaves and Irish immigrants lived and worked together in urban cities. They shared their cultures and dance styles, leading to the birth of tap dance.
William Henry Lane, also known as Master Juba, was one of the first known black performers who contributed to the development of tap dance. Master Juba fascinated audiences with his fast footwork and improvisation skills during the mid-19th century.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Vaudeville era popularized tap dance, and performers like George Primrose, Ben Harney, and Ada Overton Walker continued to refine the dance style with new steps and techniques.
With the introduction of jazz music in the 1920s, tap dance continued to evolve, and performers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers brought it to the forefront of the entertainment industry.
During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, African American tap dancers like Gregory Hines and Savion Glover brought a new style of tap dance called rhythm tap, which focused on creating complex rhythmic patterns with one’s feet.
Today, tap dance continues to be an important part of American culture, and artists are continuously innovating and pushing the boundaries of the dance form.
Whether you’re interested in the history of tap dance or just looking to improve your technique, it’s important to understand the roots of this art form. For more information on the history of tap dance and its cultural significance, visit history-tap-dance/.
The Golden Age of Tap Dance
During the Golden Age of tap dance, which spanned from the 1920s to the 1940s, tap dance became a popular form of entertainment in America. This era is marked by the rise of Hollywood musicals and Broadway shows that featured tap dance as a prominent feature. It was a time when tap dance legends such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Eleanor Powell, and the Nicholas Brothers emerged.
One of the most significant developments during this era was the incorporation of tap dance in musical theater. Tap dance routines were no longer just short interludes between scenes – they became integral parts of the show. Tap dance numbers were made longer, more elaborate, and more dazzling. These performances showcased tap dance as an art form that required a high level of technical skill and creativity.
The influence of jazz music was also evident during this era. Jazz music and tap dance went hand-in-hand, each providing inspiration and energy for the other. Tap dancers began adapting their routines to fit the rhythms of jazz music, leading to the development of jazz tap. The syncopated rhythms and improvisational elements of jazz music allowed tap dancers to push their creativity to new heights.
Tap dance also played an important role in shaping American culture during this time. The black community, which had a strong presence in the world of tap dance, used the art form as a way to express themselves and showcase their talents. Tap dance allowed them to break down barriers and gain recognition for their contributions to American culture.
The Golden Age of tap dance was a time of great creativity, innovation, and cultural significance. Its impact can still be seen in the world of tap dance today. To learn more about the history of tap dance and the famous tap dancers of this era, visit our Famous Tap Dancers page.
Tap Dance Today
Tap dance is still a beloved art form and continues to evolve to this day. With the rise of television competitions and popular movies featuring tap dancing, tap is becoming more mainstream again.
Rhythm tap is especially popular today, with dancers emphasizing complex rhythms and syncopation. This style is heavily influenced by jazz music of the 1920s and 30s.
Jazz tap is another style popular today, with more of a focus on fluidity and improvisation.
Musical theater tap is still widely used in Broadway shows and other theatrical productions. This style emphasizes precise choreography and storytelling through movement.
Lastly, funk tap combines the syncopation of rhythm tap with the funk music of the 1970s for a more contemporary take on tap.
Tap dance has also found its way into other areas of culture, such as fitness and exercise. Many people are beginning to realize the health benefits of tap dance, such as improved cardiovascular health, strength, and balance.
With its incorporation in musical theater and other performing arts, tap dance culture is as strong as ever. For those who want to improve their skills, there are many resources available, including online tutorials, training programs, and tap dance schools.
Of course, proper tap shoes are essential for any tap dancer. The right shoes guide can help dancers find the perfect pair for their style and level.
Tap dance continues to be an exciting and expressive art form with a rich history and a bright future.
Styles of Tap Dance
Tap dance is a rhythmic and energetic form of dance that has evolved over the years. One of the most fascinating aspects of tap dance is the different styles that have emerged. Each style has its own unique characteristics, and all of them require a high level of skill and precision. From Jazz Tap to Funk Tap, and beyond, every style of tap dance has something special to offer. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned dancer, exploring the different styles can help you improve your technique, expand your repertoire, and deepen your appreciation for this art form. In this article, we will delve into the most popular styles of tap dance and explore their origins, techniques, and notable dancers. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of rhythm in tap dance and how it influences other aspects of tap dance culture.
Jazz Tap is known for its use of rhythm and improvisation. It originated from the fusion of African American dance styles and European musical influences. Jazz tap is often characterized by its syncopated rhythm and its use of improvisation, which is a hallmark of jazz music.
|Jazzy rhythm and syncopated beats
|Fast footwork and intricate steps
|Emphasis on incorporating jazz music
|Use of swing and stride rhythms
|Complex improvisational skills
|Distinctive timing and phrasing
|Loose, relaxed style and posture
|Body isolations and accents
|Interpretation of music through movements
Jazz tap is especially popular in Hollywood musicals and continues to be featured in TV shows and movies. Its incorporation of various dance styles, including ballet and modern dance, makes it a versatile form of tap. Jazz tap is often performed in musical theater and has become a staple in tap dance culture. To maintain its fluidity, jazz tap dancers often practice with tap dance exercises that help them develop strong technique while still maintaining the style’s improvisational feel. Jazz tap is an art form that continues to evolve and grow, remaining a vital part of the world of dance. The importance of rhythm in jazz tap cannot be overstated, as it serves as the foundation for all movements.
Musical Theater Tap
Musical Theater Tap or Broadway tap became popular in the early 20th century as tap dance began to be incorporated into musical theater performances. In this style, the focus is on telling a story and expressing emotions through the dance.
Musical theater tap includes both classic and contemporary styles, and dancers performing this style are often required to be skilled in a range of dance techniques such as jazz, ballet, and contemporary dance. This style is all about performing and entertaining audiences.
Here is an HTML table that shows some of the key elements of musical theater tap:
|Musical Theater Tap
|Telling a story and expressing emotions through the dance
|Combination of jazz, ballet, and contemporary dance techniques
|Broadway show tunes
|Colorful and elaborate costumes that match the character being portrayed
|The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Hamilton, West Side Story, among others
Being able to tell a story through dance is a key aspect of musical theater tap. Dancers must be skilled in interpreting the script and lyrics and incorporating them into their performance. This requires not only excellent dance skills, but also acting skills and stage presence.
The music used in musical theater tap is typically Broadway show tunes. These songs are specifically composed to evoke emotions and tell stories, which makes them the perfect accompaniment to this style of dance.
The costumes worn by musical theater tap dancers are often elaborate and colorful, matching the character being portrayed. They are designed to add to the overall experience of the performance and complement the dance moves.
Some of the most famous musicals that incorporate tap dance include The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Hamilton, and West Side Story.
If you want to learn more about the importance of rhythm in tap dance or the culture surrounding this dance form, check out our articles on the importance of rhythm in tap dance and tap dance culture, respectively. Additionally, you can read about the incorporation of tap dance in musical theater in our article on tap dance in musical theater.
Rhythm tap is a style of tap dance that emphasizes musicality and syncopation. Rather than focusing solely on the steps themselves, rhythm tap dancers strive to make music with their feet. This style of tap originated in the African American communities of the United States, where it was heavily influenced by jazz music and African rhythms.
One of the key features of rhythm tap is its use of polyrhythms. Polyrhythms are complex rhythms that are created by layering multiple rhythms on top of each other. In rhythm tap, dancers often use their feet to create one rhythm while their hands create another, resulting in a layered and intricate sound.
Rhythm tap also emphasizes improvisation. Dancers often create their own rhythms on the spot, responding to the music and to each other in real time. This requires a deep understanding of music and rhythm, as well as a willingness to take risks and be creative.
Here are some of the key characteristics of rhythm tap:
|The use of multiple rhythms layered on top of each other to create a complex and intricate sound.
|The ability to create new rhythms on the spot, in response to the music and to other dancers.
|The emphasis on creating music with the feet, rather than just executing predefined steps.
|The style was heavily influenced by jazz music and African rhythms.
Rhythm tap has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, thanks in part to the work of famous tap dancers like Savion Glover and Jason Samuels Smith. These dancers have pushed the boundaries of what is possible in rhythm tap, incorporating elements of hip hop and other dance styles into their performances.
If you’re interested in learning rhythm tap, it’s important to have a strong foundation in basic tap technique. Once you have a solid understanding of the fundamentals, you can start to experiment with polyrhythms and improvisation. With practice and dedication, you can become a skilled rhythm tap dancer and make music with your feet.
Funk tap is a style of tap dance that incorporates funk music and movements into the traditional tap dance steps. This style emerged in the 1970s and gained popularity in the 1980s. Funk tap is characterized by its groovy beats and syncopated rhythms.
1. Groove-based steps
Unlike other styles of tap dance, funk tap relies heavily on the dancer’s ability to groove with the music. The steps are often based on the beat and rhythm of the music rather than on precise footwork.
2. Upbeat music
Funk tap is typically performed to upbeat music, such as funk, hip-hop, and R&B. The music sets the tone for the dance and provides the foundation for the dancer’s movements.
3. Syncopated rhythms
Funk tap is known for its syncopated rhythms, which are created by emphasizing the off-beat or backbeat of the music. This creates a funky, groovy feel that is unique to this style of tap dance.
Funk tap often incorporates isolations, which are movements that focus on specific body parts, such as the head, shoulders, or hips. Isolations add a funky, hip hop vibe to the dance.
Like other styles of tap dance, funk tap also incorporates improvisation. Dancers are encouraged to experiment with different movements and steps, incorporating their own personal style and flair into the dance.
Funk tap is a fun and lively style of tap dance that combines the traditional steps of tap with the groovy beats and funky rhythms of funk music. Its emphasis on groove and improvisation allows for a lot of creativity and personal expression.
Techniques and Steps
In order to truly master the art of tap dance, one must learn and perfect various techniques and steps. These are the building blocks that allow tap dancers to create complex and mesmerizing routines. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, continuing to develop your techniques and mastering new steps is essential for maintaining your skills and improving your performance. In this section, we will explore the different levels of tap dance steps, from basic to advanced, and the techniques required to execute them with precision and style. So, let’s dive in and explore the art of tap dance techniques and steps!
In tap dance, there are several basic steps that form the foundation for more advanced moves. These steps are the “building blocks” of the dance and are essential to master before moving on to more complex choreography. Some of the most common basic steps in tap dance include:
- Shuffle: This is a basic move that involves shuffling the feet in place. The dancer hops on one foot while brushing the other foot forward, then brings the first foot back down to the floor. This move can be done with both feet, creating the double shuffle.
- Step: The step involves simply stepping onto one foot and then bringing the other foot up to meet it. This can be done on the toes or the heels, depending on the desired sound.
- Toe Tap: This move involves tapping the toe of one foot on the floor while keeping the heel raised. This can be done in a variety of directions, creating different rhythms and sounds.
- Heel Tap: The heel tap is similar to the toe tap, but involves tapping the heel of one foot on the floor while keeping the toe raised.
- Flap: The flap is a combination move that involves brushing one foot forward and then immediately tapping the toe of the other foot behind it.
- Maxie Ford: Named after a famous tap dancer, the Maxie Ford involves a shuffle step followed by a heel click.
These basic steps may seem simple, but they require a lot of practice to perfect. Tap dancers must be precise in their movements and must work to create clear, rhythmic sounds with their feet. As dancers progress in their training, they can begin to combine these basic steps into more complex sequences and add their own style and flair to the dance.
As you progress in tap dance, you may want to challenge yourself with more complex steps that require greater control and coordination. Here are some intermediate steps that you can add to your repertoire:
|A shuffle with a quick change of weight on the ball of the foot on the last step.
|A brush forward followed by a step on the same foot.
|A shuffle followed by a spank (brush back) with the other foot, then a step on the first foot.
|Paddle and Roll
|A series of alternating toe taps and heel digs, executed in a circular motion.
|A shuffle, a spank, a step, and then another shuffle on the other foot (often done in a traveling motion).
|A hop on one foot with the other foot in front, followed by a brush back with the other foot and then a leap onto that foot.
Remember to practice each step slowly and with proper technique before attempting to increase speed or add your own personal flair. With dedication and hard work, you’ll soon master these intermediate steps and be ready to take on even greater challenges in tap dance.
Once you’ve mastered the basic and intermediate steps in tap dance, it’s time to move on to the advanced steps that will take your skills to the next level. These steps require a great deal of practice and dedication, but with time and effort, you can perfect them.
Here are some of the most challenging advanced steps in tap dance:
|This step involves crossing one foot over the other and rapidly taping the toes of each foot alternately. It requires quick footwork and balance.
|Paddle and Roll
|This step is a combination of a paddle, where the ball of one foot taps back and forth while the other foot stays flat, and a roll, which is a series of shuffles. It requires coordination and precise timing.
|This step involves crossing one leg behind the other and tapping the front foot twice, then quickly switching the position of the feet and tapping again. It requires agility and balance.
|This step involves a series of shuffles, stamps, and hops, and ends with a slide onto one foot. It requires speed, control, and strength.
|This step involves a series of taps and shuffles on the ball of one foot, while the other foot is kept in the air behind. It requires precision and balance.
Keep in mind that these advanced steps are just a few examples of the many possibilities in tap dance. As you continue to explore and challenge yourself, you may even create your own unique steps and routines. With dedication and hard work, you can become a master of tap dance and impress audiences with your skills.
Music and Rhythm
The soulful and rhythmic sounds of tap dance have always been accompanied by music. The combination of percussive footwork and catchy beats is what makes tap dance so captivating to audiences. The music and rhythm of tap dance play a crucial role in setting the tone, creating an ambiance, and inspiring the dancers to move gracefully and energetically. In this section, we will delve deeper into the world of music and rhythm in tap dance, and explore how it affects the style and technique of tap dancers. Let’s tap into the beat!
Tempo and Timing
In tap dance, tempo and timing are crucial elements that make the dance style stand out. The tempo refers to the speed that the music is played at, while timing refers to the placement of the steps in relation to the music.
Tap dancers need to have a strong sense of rhythm and be able to keep time with the music. The most common time signatures used in tap dance are 4/4 and 2/4, and dancers must be able to match their steps to each beat of the music.
One of the unique features of tap dance is the use of syncopation, a style of rhythm where accents are placed on the off-beat. This adds complexity and interest to the dance, and is commonly used in musical theater and jazz tap styles.
To help dancers maintain a consistent tempo, many tap dance routines use a metronome, which provides a steady beat throughout the routine. This is especially useful for beginners who are still developing their sense of timing.
Below is a table that outlines the most common tempos used in tap dance:
|“Moon River” by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
|Slow and graceful
|“Someone Like You” by Adele
|“Fever” by Peggy Lee
|Fast and lively
|“Sing Sing Sing” by Benny Goodman
|“Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
As dancers progress in their training and become more advanced, they may also be required to perform steps and combinations that are off-tempo or syncopated. This requires even greater precision in their timing and a deeper understanding of how rhythm works in tap dance.
Music Genres in Tap Dance
Understanding the different music genres in tap dance is integral to achieving a complete performance. While tap dance can be performed to a wide range of music, certain genres are more commonly used than others. Below are some of the most popular music genres in tap dance:
- Jazz: Jazz music is one of the most popular genres in tap dance. Its up-tempo beats and syncopated rhythms lend themselves perfectly to the quick footwork involved in tap dance performances. Jazz music is versatile and can be adapted to suit various styles of tap dance, from vintage to contemporary.
- Blues: Blues music is another popular genre that is frequently used in tap dance performances. The slow, steady pace of blues music allows for more intricate and expressive movements in tap dance routines. The emotional depth of blues music also enables tap dancers to convey a strong sense of feeling to their audience.
- Swing: Swing music is a genre that is synonymous with tap dance. The bouncy, upbeat tempo of swing music makes it perfect for fast-paced, lively tap dance routines. Swing music is festive and energetic, and it is frequently used in tap dance performances that aim to entertain and uplift the audience.
- Latin: Latin music has a strong beat and infectious rhythms that make it a popular choice for tap dancers. Salsa, rumba, and cha-cha music all provide exciting opportunities for tap dancers to add flair and character to their performances. Latin music is perfect for tap dance routines that incorporate passionate movements and high-energy footwork.
- Hip Hop: Hip hop music is a more contemporary genre that is often used in modern tap dance performances. The vibrant beats and hard-hitting rhythms of hip hop lend themselves perfectly to the sharp, staccato movements that define modern tap dance styles. Hip hop music is edgy, urban, and encourages dancers to push the boundaries of traditional tap dance conventions.
Having a good understanding of these and other music genres is crucial for tap dancers looking to create dynamic, exciting performances that capture the hearts and minds of their audience. Through the right combination of music, dance, and style, tap dancers can express themselves and their art in new and exciting ways.
The Art of Improvisation
Improvisation is an essential skill for any tap dancer to master. It allows them to express themselves creatively and respond to the music in real-time. Here are some key elements to keep in mind when working on your improvisation skills:
- Rhythm: The foundation of tap dance is rhythm, and the same holds true for improvisation. You need to be able to keep a steady beat and play around with different rhythms and accents to create interesting and dynamic sounds.
- Timing: Timing is everything in tap dance, and it’s especially important when improvising. You need to be able to listen to the music and hit your steps precisely on the beat or off-beat, depending on the style of music you’re dancing to.
- Exploration: One of the great things about tap dance is that there are so many possible ways to approach the music. When you’re improvising, don’t be afraid to explore different rhythms, sounds, and movements. The goal is to find what works best for you and create a unique style that’s all your own.
- Freedom: Improvisation gives you the freedom to express yourself in your own way. You don’t need to stick to a particular routine or choreography, and you can let your body and the music guide you. This sense of freedom can be both exhilarating and scary, but with practice, you can learn to trust your instincts and let your creativity flow.
Remember, improvisation takes time and practice to master. Don’t be discouraged if you struggle at first. Keep working on your rhythms, timing, and other elements, and before you know it, you’ll be able to create beautiful music with your feet.
Costume and Accessories
When it comes to tap dance, costume and accessories play an important role in enhancing the performance and expressing the dancer’s individuality. From the evolution of attire to famous costume designers, the world of tap dance costumes is rich in history and creativity. In this section, we’ll dive into the wardrobe essentials for tap dancers and explore the various styles of costumes and accessories that have shaped the art form over time. So put on your tapper shoes and let’s get ready to dress to impress on stage!
The Evolution of Tap Dance Attire
Tap dance attire has a rich history, evolving as the art form itself has grown and changed over time. At the start of tap dance, attire was usually quite simple, with dancers wearing everyday clothes. However, as tap dance began to gain popularity in the 1920s and 30s, dancers started to develop their own unique styles both in terms of dance and dress.
During this time, tap dancing costumes started to become more elaborate. Women’s costumes featured shorter hemlines and brighter colors, with feathered and sequined accents. Men’s costumes often included wide-legged pants and jackets with tails. It was also during this time that tap shoes began to evolve with metal taps being added to the soles to create a distinctive sound.
The 1930s and 40s:
During this era, the popular style was a more tailored look with long, flowing skirts for women and more sophisticated suits for men. Although the clothes were more streamlined, the shoes continued to develop with different styles of taps for different sounds.
The 1950s and 60s:
Tap dance attire in these decades saw a shift towards more contemporary fashion and included brighter, bolder colors and streamlined designs. Women’s skirts became shorter and less voluminous, and jackets for men featured a more fitted cut. Tap shoes continued to evolve with the introduction of different types of taps for varied sounds.
The 1970s and 80s:
During this time, tap dance costumes took on a retro vibe with colorful bodysuits and leg warmers for women, and tight-fitting shirts and trousers for men. The focus was more on the dancing than the costumes, with dancers opting for simpler designs.
The 1990s to Present Day:
In recent years, tap dance attire has become more eclectic and personal. Dancers often choose to wear street clothes or unique vintage-inspired pieces, allowing them to show their individual style while tapping. Tap shoes continue to evolve with the addition of new technologies, such as heel and toe taps that can be changed out to create different sounds.
Tap dance attire has come a long way from its humble beginnings. From simple everyday clothing to elaborate and modern designs, the attire reflects the evolution of the art form itself.
|Shorter hemlines, brighter colors, feathered and sequined accents
|Wide-legged pants, jackets with tails
|Metal taps added to soles
|1930s and 40s
|Long, flowing skirts, tailored look
|More sophisticated suits
|Different styles of taps for varied sounds
|1950s and 60s
|Brighter, bolder colors, streamlined designs
|Shorter, more fitted jackets and pants
|New types of taps introduced
|1970s and 80s
|Colorful bodysuits and leg warmers
|Tight-fitting shirts and trousers
|1990s to present day
|Eclectic and personal clothing choices
|Street clothes or unique vintage-inspired pieces
|New technologies like changeable taps
Famous Tap Dance Costume Designers
Tap dance costume designers play a critical role in enhancing the overall performance of a dancer. They design costumes that fit the specific style of the dance, complement the music, and showcase the individual style of the performer. Here are some of the most prominent and influential costume designers in the world of tap dance.
|Known for his work in Broadway musicals, Barnes has designed costumes for “Follies,” “Kinky Boots,” and the revival of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” He won a Tony Award for “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
|The legendary designer has created iconic looks for Cher, Carol Burnett, and other celebrities. He designed the costumes for the musical “Tap Dance Kid.”
|Known for his work with the company Tap Dogs, Heuvel has designed costumes for numerous productions, including “Tap Dogs Reloaded” and “Tap Dogs UK Tour.”
|William Ivey Long
|One of the most prolific costume designers in Broadway history, Long has won six Tony Awards for his work. He designed the costumes for the Broadway musical “Hot Feet.”
|Zipprodt was a pioneer in costume design for musicals during the 1950s and 1960s. She designed the costumes for the original Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof” and the film adaptation of “West Side Story.”
Each of these designers brings a unique style and perspective to their work, and their designs have become part of the history of tap dance. From the glamorous and flashy outfits by Bob Mackie to the more understated and practical costumes by David Heuvel, these designers have left their mark on the world of dance.
Must-have Accessories for Tap Dancers
As a tap dancer, it is essential to have the necessary accessories to ensure a comfortable and efficient practice. Below are some of the must-have accessories for tap dancers:
|Tap shoes are the most essential accessory a tap dancer can have. They enhance the sound produced while tapping and provide the necessary support and protection for the feet. Tap shoes can be lace-up or slip-on, and the choice between the two depends on personal preference.
|Knee pads provide protection and cushioning for the knees, which can come in handy during practice and performances. Knee pads are especially important for those who practice tap dance regularly.
|Tights or Leggings
|Tights or leggings are an essential accessory for tap dancers as they provide warmth and ensure that the dancer’s movements are visible to the audience. Tights and leggings come in different materials such as nylon, spandex or cotton, and the choice between the two depends on personal preference.
|A tap floor is a must-have accessory for tap dancers who practice regularly. A tap floor provides a hard and even surface for dancers to practice their moves on and helps prevent injuries.
|A water bottle is an essential accessory for tap dancers as it provides hydration during practice and performances. It is important to have a water bottle that is easy to carry and re-fillable.
|Hair accessories such as hair ties or hair clips are necessary to keep hair out of the face during practice and performances. This allows the dancer to focus on their moves without any distractions.
Ensuring that these accessories are readily available can make a significant difference in a tap dancer’s performance. These accessories help to enhance the dancers’ performance, ensure their safety, and allow them to focus solely on their movements. Investing in these accessories can help a tap dancer achieve their full potential.
Famous Tap Dancers
Few performing arts have produced as many iconic figures as tap dance. Some of the most beloved entertainers of all time have been tap dancers, captivating audiences with their intricate footwork, dazzling showmanship, and infectious rhythm. From Hollywood legends to contemporary stars, the world of tap dance has seen no shortage of talent, creativity, and innovation over the years. In the following section, we will delve into the lives and achievements of some of the most celebrated tap dancers in history, highlighting their unique styles, signature moves, and contributions to the art form that continues to inspire and enchant audiences around the world.
Fred Astaire is perhaps the most well-known name in the world of tap dance. He was an American actor, dancer, and singer who became famous for his stylish and sophisticated dance performances in Hollywood movies during the 1930s and 1940s.
Here are some interesting facts about Fred Astaire:
- He was born in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska, and his birth name was Frederic Austerlitz Jr.
- He started dancing at a very young age, and he and his sister Adele were a famous dancing duo in New York during the 1920s.
- Astaire’s style was characterized by his elegance, fluidity, and impeccable timing.
- He is famous for his dance duets with Ginger Rogers in movies such as “Top Hat” and “Swing Time”.
- Astaire was a perfectionist and would often rehearse his dances for hours on end to get them just right.
- He continued to perform and make movies well into his 70s.
Astaire’s contributions to the world of tap dance cannot be overstated. His dancing was a combination of tap, ballet, and jazz, and he brought a level of grace and sophistication to the art form that hadn’t been seen before. He paved the way for future generations of tap dancers, and his legacy lives on through his movies and the numerous dancers who have been inspired by him.
Gene Kelly is one of the most influential and iconic tap dancers in history. He is known not only for his impeccable tap dancing skills, but also for his choreography and his work in film.
|Early Life and Career
|Gene Kelly was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1912. He began dancing at a young age, and went on to study at the University of Pittsburgh. He moved to New York City in the early 1930s to pursue a career in dance, and landed a job as a chorus boy on Broadway.
|Success in Hollywood
|Kelly’s big break came in 1940 when he was cast in the Broadway musical “Pal Joey.” He soon transitioned to Hollywood, where he starred in a series of hit musical films, including Anchors Aweigh (1945) and Singin’ in the Rain (1952).
|Tap Dancing Technique
|Kelly’s tap dancing technique was unique in that he incorporated ballet and modern dance into his routines. He was known for his athleticism and precision, and his ability to seamlessly blend tap with other styles of dance. Kelly also choreographed many of his own dance sequences, which often included props and elaborate sets.
|Kelly’s impact on tap dancing and dance in general is undeniable. He brought a new level of artistry and athleticism to the dance form, and helped to popularize tap dancing through his work in Hollywood films. Kelly’s legacy continues to inspire tap dancers today, and his influence can be seen in the work of many contemporary dancers and choreographers.
Gene Kelly’s contributions to tap dancing and dance as a whole have left an indelible mark on the industry, and his legacy lives on through his iconic performances and choreography.
One of the most influential tap dancers in modern times is Savion Glover. He began dancing at the early age of seven and was quickly recognized for his prodigious talent. He grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and began his formal training with veteran tap dancer Henry LeTang. From there, he was discovered by legendary tap dancer Gregory Hines, who became his mentor and encouraged him to explore his own unique style.
Savion Glover is known for his unique approach to tap dancing. He emphasizes a more grounded and percussive style, often dancing with his entire body, not just his feet. He focuses on creating intricate rhythms that showcase the intricate timing and syncopation of tap dance. He is also known for his use of technology in his performances, incorporating electronic music and special effects to enhance his already impressive dances.
One of Glover’s most famous performances was his portrayal of the lead character in the Broadway musical “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk”. The show, which premiered in 1995, was a huge success and won Glover a Tony award for Best Choreography. He has also appeared in numerous films and television shows, including “Happy Feet” and “Sesame Street”.
Savion Glover’s impact on tap dance cannot be overstated. His unique style has inspired countless dancers around the world to explore new avenues in tap dance. He has also helped to bring greater visibility to the art form, appearing on numerous television shows and in films. He continues to perform and teach, and his contributions to the world of tap dance will undoubtedly continue to be felt for decades to come.
- Savion Glover’s Style
- Notable Performances:
Maurice Hines, born on December 13, 1943, in New York City, is an accomplished American dancer, choreographer, and director. He has made a lasting impact on the world of tap dance, and his contributions are still admired today. Maurice began his career at just five years old as a tap dancer alongside his younger brother, Gregory Hines. The two of them quickly became known as “the Hines Kids,” and they performed on many television shows in the 1950s and 60s.
Maurice continued to dance professionally for many years, performing in various stage productions and even acting in some films. He is known for his captivating performances that combine fluidity, precision, and a unique sense of style.
Throughout his career, Maurice has also made significant contributions to the art of choreography. He has worked on a wide range of productions, including “Jelly’s Last Jam,” “Sophisticated Ladies,” and “Uptown…It’s Hot!” His creativity and artistry have helped to bring tap dance to new heights, and his work is widely renowned within the tap dance community.
In addition to performing and choreographing, Maurice has also directed many productions, including “Eubie!,” “Hot Feet,” and “Sophisticated Ladies.” His skills as a director have helped to bring the best out of his performers, and he has a reputation for creating memorable and engaging productions.
Maurice Hines is a true inspiration to many aspiring tap dancers, and he continues to be a beloved figure in the world of dance. His contributions to the art form are immeasurable, and his legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of dancers for years to come.
Training and Education
For those who aspire to master the art of tap dance, proper training and education are essential. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an experienced dancer hoping to refine your skills, there are many resources available to help you improve your technique and develop your artistic voice. From local dance studios to renowned schools and programs, the world of tap dance education is rich and diverse. In this section, we will explore some of the best ways to get started in tap dance, as well as some of the top programs and schools for those seeking a career in this dynamic form of dance.
Taking Tap Dance Classes
If you’re interested in learning tap dance, taking tap dance classes is a great way to start. Not only will you be able to learn the basic steps and techniques, but you’ll also be able to develop your skills and style over time. Here are some important things to keep in mind when taking tap dance classes:
|Before signing up for a class, do your research to find the right fit for you. Look for classes that are appropriate for your skill level and schedule.
|Get the right shoes
|The right shoes are essential for tap dancing. Look for shoes with a hard sole and a metal tap on the toe and heel. Make sure the shoes fit well and are comfortable to dance in.
|Warm-up and stretch
|Before each class, take the time to warm up your body and stretch your muscles. This will help prevent injury and improve your performance.
|Listen and watch
|Pay attention to the teacher’s instructions and demonstrations, as well as the other students in the class. Listening and watching will help you learn the steps and techniques more easily.
|Practice makes perfect, so make sure to practice regularly outside of class. This will help you improve your skills and develop your own unique style.
Taking tap dance classes is a fun and rewarding way to learn a new skill and express yourself through dance. With the right mindset and dedication, you can become a skilled tap dancer in no time.
Becoming a Professional Tap Dancer
Becoming a professional tap dancer takes a lot of dedication and hard work. It requires more than just mastering the basic steps and techniques; it also involves building a strong foundation of knowledge and experience in the art of tap dance. Below is a breakdown of the necessary steps and requirements to become a professional tap dancer:
|Start Training Early
|Most professional tap dancers start training at a young age, often as young as three or four years old. It is important to start early to develop a strong foundation of technique, musicality, and performance skills. Many professional tap dancers start by taking classes at local dance studios or community centers.
|Take Classes from Top Instructors
|To become a professional tap dancer, it is important to learn from the best. Seek out top instructors who have experience performing and teaching tap dance professionally. They can provide valuable guidance and feedback to help improve your technique and performance skills.
|Consistent practice is crucial to becoming a professional tap dancer. Aim to practice several hours a day, every day, to improve your skills and stamina. As you progress, practice performing with music and work on creating your own routines and combinations.
|Perform in Public
|Performing in public, whether it be in recitals or competitions, is a great way to gain experience and improve your performance skills. It can also help build your reputation and establish connections with other dancers and professionals in the industry.
|Seek Out Professional Opportunities
|As you gain experience and confidence, start seeking out professional opportunities. Audition for local theater productions, join a dance company or troupe, or seek out freelance work as a tap dancer. These opportunities can help you gain exposure, build your resume and portfolio, and establish yourself as a professional tap dancer.
|Continued Education and Training
|Even after becoming a professional tap dancer, it is important to continue your education and training. Attend workshops and classes to learn new techniques and styles, work with different instructors to gain new perspectives, and continue practicing and performing to maintain and improve your skills.
Becoming a professional tap dancer is a journey that requires dedication, hard work, and a love for the art of tap dance. By starting early, seeking out top instructors, practicing consistently, performing in public, seeking professional opportunities, and continuing your education and training, you can establish yourself as a successful and respected professional tap dancer.
Top Tap Dance Schools and Programs
If you’re interested in pursuing tap dance seriously, it’s crucial to find a reputable school or program that can help hone your skills. Here are some top tap dance schools and programs that you may consider:
- Shuffle Along Dance School: Located in New York City, Shuffle Along Dance School is known for imparting traditional tap techniques to its students. The school has trained many famous dancers and offers classes for students at all levels of experience.
- Broadway Dance Center: This prominent dance center is located in the heart of New York City and offers a wide range of dance classes, including tap dance classes. Broadway Dance Center has highly qualified instructors who are experts in tap dance.
- Al Gilbert Dance Technique: This program is based in California and has been recognized as the leading dance education program in the country. The program’s founder, Al Gilbert, developed a comprehensive tap dance curriculum that teaches students the necessary skills and techniques to become successful dancers.
- The American Tap Dance Foundation: This organization is dedicated to promoting tap dance as a unique art form and offers several tap dance training programs. The foundation provides classes for both amateur and professional dancers, workshops, and events that allow students to showcase their skills.
- Boston Tap Company: Based in Boston, this company is known for its innovative approach to tap dance. The company has highly trained professionals who teach tap dance to students of all ages and levels. The Boston Tap Company strives to develop dancers who not only have excellent technique but also the ability to express themselves artistically.
No matter which tap dance school or program you choose, it’s important to do your research and find one that aligns with your goals and interests. Take the time to read reviews, visit studios in person, and talk to instructors to determine which program will best suit your needs.
As we conclude our journey into the world of tap dance, it is clear that this artform has a rich history, diverse styles, and requires dedicated training and practice. From the origins of tap dance in African American communities to its place in contemporary musical theater and beyond, tap dance continues to evolve and captivate audiences.
The various styles of tap dance, including jazz, musical theater, rhythm, and funk, each offer unique techniques, steps, and rhythms. Aspiring tap dancers can start with basic steps and work their way up to advanced moves through training and practice.
Music and rhythm play a crucial role in tap dance, with tempo and timing being essential elements to master. Tap dancers can explore different music genres and even improvise, adding their own flair and style to their performances.
In addition to the technical aspects of tap dance, costume and accessories also enhance the artform. From the evolution of tap dance attire to famous costume designers and essential accessories, tap dance has a distinctive style on and offstage.
Famous tap dancers throughout history, such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Savion Glover, and Maurice Hines, have left lasting legacies and continue to inspire new generations of performers.
For those interested in pursuing tap dance as a career, taking classes and seeking out top tap dance schools and programs can provide valuable training and education.
Overall, tap dance is a unique and exciting artform that requires dedication, passion, and a willingness to keep learning and growing. Whether it’s for personal enjoyment or professional aspirations, tap dance continues to captivate and inspire audiences around the world.
What is tap dance?
Tap dance is a form of dance that involves rhythmically tapping shoes on the floor to create a percussive sound.
What is the history of tap dance?
Tap dance has its roots in African American and Irish American step dances that merged in the mid-1800s. It grew in popularity throughout the early 1900s and became a staple in many dance routines during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
What are the different styles of tap dance?
There are several styles of tap dance, including jazz, musical theater, rhythm, and funk.
What are the basic steps in tap dance?
Some basic steps in tap dance include the shuffle, the flap, the ball change, and the time step.
How important is music in tap dance?
Music is essential in tap dance as it provides the rhythm and tempo for the dancer to follow.
What types of music are used in tap dance?
Tap dancers can use a variety of music genres, including jazz, swing, blues, and even hip-hop.
What is the dress code for tap dancers?
Tap dancers typically wear leotards, tights, and tap shoes. Men often wear dress pants, a button-up shirt, and tap shoes.
Who are some famous tap dancers?
Some famous tap dancers include Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Savion Glover, and Maurice Hines.
Can anyone learn tap dance?
Yes, anyone can learn tap dance with dedication and practice. It is a great form of exercise and a fun way to express oneself through dance.
What is the best way to get started with tap dance?
The best way to get started with tap dance is to find a local dance studio that offers tap dance classes. It is important to start with beginner classes and work your way up to more advanced levels.