Tap dancing has endured for generations as one of the most popular forms of mainstream movement. From the streets of San Francisco to the impressive theaters of Broadway, tap continues to touch hearts and energize souls all over the nation.
The History of Tap Dancing
While it has become so commonplace it would be difficult to imagine the dancing world without it, tap was actually developed in the United States around the nineteenth century. Its popularity has spread all over the world, and the genre's name comes from the "tap, tap" sound made from the plates of metal on the dancer's shoes. Tap dancing is fun because you are able to become your own musician, as trained feet are able to make an impressive variety of sounds and rhythms without the assistance of musical accompaniment.
Nobody knows exactly how the idea for tap dancing came about, but many historians speculate its roots are found in African and Irish dance. Both of these predate the tap dance steps we know today, and also follow the same theme of movement through self-made percussion. In more modern history, we can trace the beginnings of tap to a New York City neighborhood in the 1830s.
Taken off the streets and brought to Vaudeville in the 1900s, tap was on Broadway and in jazz festivals by the 1950s. This of course led to a long stint on television, providing trained dancers with plenty of work and opportunity once this new medium gained popularity.
Today, despite more popular dance forms such as hip hop and ballroom filling our living rooms, many dancers continue to value tap training and realize the importance of being at least adequately skilled in this discipline. You never know where tap dancing will surface next in our entertainment culture, as it has enjoyed several revivals since its New York inception.
If you wish to learn to tap dance yourself, getting started is easy. The first thing you will want to do is find a dance studio or community program offering lessons. Unlike many forms of dance which are best achieved when started as a young child, tap can be picked up at any age, and even senior tap dance classes are popular in many regions. Most likely, you will find that tap dancing opportunities are readily available for your demographic, and if not, there are also many videos and DVDs available to teach yourself.
After you have found a way to learn tap dancing, you will need to purchase a pair of shoes. There are many different types of tap shoes, but the most popular are of the flat-footed black leather variety. Your shoes will have two different taps - a small one on the heel, and a larger one on the ball of the foot. Both are important because they allow you to make the different sounds famously associated with this genre of dance.
Your taps will probably come already attached to the shoe, although higher end brands may require you to have them fastened by a professional. Screws should be tightly in place before you begin dancing, as this will prevent a tap from flying off halfway through a lesson!
Tap dancing is a great form of exercise, as it requires use of the entire body. It's a wonderful cardio workout for those who are growing weary of treadmill life, and it can also provide you with the opportunity to meet new people.
If you stick with your lessons, you can go on to compete or join a tap dancing troupe that performs either locally or all over the world. Of course, for those who reach the elite level, there are always opportunities to audition for the "big time" tapping opportunities of Broadway, London and beyond. Perhaps most importantly, tap renews the spirit, putting a smile on the face of not only the tapper, but everyone who gets the opportunity to see this timeless dance performed.