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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Let’s dance - Tap dance

Learn about the intricacies of tap dance and showcase some fancy footwork
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - July 8, 2010
By: Goh Mei Yi
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Let’s dance - Tap dance

Tap dance is a style of American dance distinguished by footwork that creates precise rhythmic patterns. You can recognise it by the characteristic percussive sound made by small metal plates attached to the ball and heel of special tap shoes as they are struck against a hard surface, like the floor.

Tap dancers are like musicians. They use their feet like drums to produce rhythms by tapping, sliding and clicking the metal plates on their shoes. Dancers can perform alone or in groups, with or without musical accompaniment.

A good tap dancer is able to produce clear, clean sounds, with various levels of tone. Beginners focus on learning basic single steps like the brush, flap, shuffle, and ball change. Advanced dancers combine basic steps to create new moves.

The roots of tap dance are a bit obscure, because several cultures have dance traditions similar to tap dancing. It could have started with African slaves in early America who used their feet to create their traditional rhythms as drums and other instruments were forbidden. Other traditional dances like Irish clog dancing utilise movements similar to those used by tappers.

The most common style of tap dancing is called classical tap. Classical tap dancers, known as tappers, use their arms and upper bodies to blend movements of ballet or jazz into their routines, often in very showy, stylised movements. Broadway tap is a highly formalised version of classical tap dance. It often involves high-heeled tap shoes and show music, and is usually the first type of tap taught to beginners.

On the other hand, hoofers are tap dancers that focus on footwork, making a louder, more grounded sound with very little upper body or arm movement involved. Hoofers try to use every part of their shoes to make their feet sound like drums.

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