Tap dance lessons are a fun way to get young kids or beginner dancers involved in the artform. The style uses metal plated shoes to create complicated clicking noises. No matter how old you are, you can become an incredible tap dancer with the right training and practice. Before beginning your classes at a tap dance studio, here are some things you should know to help you learn quickly.
Prepare Yourself Before Class
Before you start your class, you should make sure that you buy some comfortable workout clothes that do not restrict your movement. Your clothes should be breathable spandex, or a light airy material that will not pose a tripping hazard or lock your body heat in. You will be doing a lot of different movements, so make sure that you choose the right clothing for your class. If you are unsure what type of clothing to wear, call your dance studio for advice. You should also make sure you bring good tap dance shoes. These shoes should be comfortable, fit well, and have metal plates attaches to the heel and ball of the foot.
Simple Tricks and Tips to Learn Tap Dance
Relax Your Ankles
If you’ve ever wondered how professional tap dancers make each step look natural and clean, it’s because they relax their ankles. Don’t overuse them to perform your steps faster; instead, make a conscious effort to relax them. Use your legs, beginning at the hips, limiting movements from the ankles. This will build strength in your legs, and your ankles and feet will follow along.
Slow Down Your Steps
It’s easy to try to speed through combinations to stay on beat, but rushing will only cause your steps to overlap each other, taking away from the individual taps. If you notice you are skipping combinations, slow down until you get it right. It’s more important that you produce clean sounds than sloppy speed tapping.
Another helpful tip for dancing beginners is to place your weight at the front of your body. Both of your feet must be able to be lifted at any moment, so your centre of gravity needs to be in the middle. Hold most of your weight forward when dancing and keep your balance on the balls of your feet.
Keep the Rhythm
As you dance, remember that you are doing more than just memorizing steps. Tap dancing is a way of making music, too! Keep in time with the music you are dancing to, instead of trying to be the lead. Listen to the music and move in tune with the beat and your audience will be mesmerized.
Take Music Lessons
Having a background in music can help you become a master rhythmic improv. Music, especially jazz, can improve your rhythm and help you to use the emotions in the music to create sounds.
Flex Your Improv Muscles
When learning to tap dance, practice different creative, improvised exercises to hone your skill. Some of these exercises can include the following:
- Imitate another dancer’s steps
- Talk aloud while improvising to show others your personality
- Challenge yourself to never look down at the floor but look straight ahead or at your classmates
- Add an element of surprise by stopping in the middle of your improvisation
- Change a phrase of choreography with your own rhythm
Learn Simple Tap Dance Steps
One of the first tap dance steps a beginner will learn is the shuffle. This step is a combination of two moves that are very simple: the brush and the strike. First, perform the brush by standing on one leg and bending the other, lifting your foot off the ground. Turn both feet outwards, without letting the raised foot touch the floor. Secondly, swing the foot forward and as it passes your standing foot, point it so the ball quickly brushes against the floor. Make sure your heel does not touch the floor at all. Follow it with a strike, which is simply the same movement in reverse. Swing your foot backwards.
There are several ways to shift your weight from one foot to another in tap dancing, but the most common way is known as the ball change. This move is done by making sure only the toe tap (smallest of your shoe’s metal plates) makes a sound. Stand with your feet side by side, not touching. Lift your heels so you stand on the balls of your feet. Place your right foot behind you, and rock back onto the ball of it. As you do this, your left foot should completely leave the floor for a second. Switch feet and repeat the same step, rocking your weight from one ball to the next.
Step-Heel and Heel-Step
The heel-step is the first step you should try as it mimics the natural movement of walking across the floor. When you place one foot in front of the other, bring your heel of your foot down first. Next, bring the ball of your foot down too. Repeat this step with the opposite foot and continue until you get it right. Then, the step-heel. You perform the same movements, only backwards. The ball of your foot should come down before your heel. If you’re used to wearing high heels, this will feel natural, otherwise it may take some practice to get used to this movement.
This step is a helpful way to transition between steps. First, step onto the ball of your right foot. Then, lift your left foot behind you and perform a shuffle. When you return to your original position, hop onto the ball of your foot, placing it behind your right foot and lift your right foot into the air in front of you at the same time. Bend your right knee out so your toe falls on the other side of your left foot.
Sign Your Child Up for Tap Dance Classes at Performance Dance Arts
Learning tap dance is a fun way to get into the artform but practicing these steps before your first class will give you a head start and impress your teacher! If you’re looking for dance classes for beginners, look no further than Performing Dance Arts.
Established in 1986, Performing Dance Arts has become a reliable name for high-quality dance training at both the recreational and competitive level. Our extensive dance programs include jazz, tap, ballet, acro, lyrical, and hip-hop classes that promote coordination, creativity, self-confidence, and a healthy mind and body. If you want your child to benefit from the physical, mental, and social benefits of tap dance classes in Toronto or Vaughan, contact us today at (905) 856-1030 !