Learn to Tap Dance with FDS

Tap Time!

By Lorraine Ansell | 03 October 2020

Here at First Dance Studios we are very spoilt as we have not one but two very ahhh-mazing tap teachers!  What did you say? Yes, two tap teachers who make the steps effortlessly simple to learn. Emma and Karen who have been tapping away since Emma was the taller of the two! And now we offer over 10 tap classes for various levels weekly. 

What is tap dancing?

Very simply tap dance is dancing but your feet make the sound! Your dance shoes have steel plates on the toe and heel. But this is more than making sounds. To tap dance is to express yourself physically and with musicality using your body and your feet. Ok and your hands with claps but mostly your feet (does anyone else have trouble with clapping as well as tapping – or is it just me?) So your feet become the music as well. As for its history, it is varied and interesting and culturally fascinating. Tap dance has roots in the USA and started as a fusion of various ethnic percussive dances. These were mostly African tribal dances as well as Scottish, Irish and English clog dances.  Early tap shoes had wooden soles, at times with pennies attached to make that right sound. Tap really blossomed during the Vaudeville era especially the creative efforts known as the Harlem Renaissance. Tap dancers collaborated with jazz musicians working improv and other syncopated rhythms into corporeal movement. With the movie era, Hollywood ushered in tap dance sequences to wow film goers. Our favourite greats include Fred Astaire, Gregory Hines and many more. 

Why we love tapping out the rhythms of life

To tap dance is to use your body, rather more precisely your feet, as a percussion instrument. As a result it is a great way to keep fit, find fun and challenge yourself mentally and physically. We love it because it is fun, brings us joy and yes, we can put a stamp on things. Some of us love that we can keep rhythm with a toe, heel, step and a stamp while others enjoy the challenge of making easy steps more complicated by dancing them at a faster rhythm. Ok and some of us simply love just jumping about making all the noises we can! 

What classes are on offer?

First Dance Studios has a wide range of tap dance classes so whatever your ability and lifestyle you can squeeze some Suzie Qs into your life whenever you like. From classes that are heavy on technical close tap work (yes please – I love me some technical tap drills) to showy tap routines with added jazz hands. Discover what classes you like the tap sound of below!

Beginners Plus – you already have some basic steps and this is reinforcing your muscle memory and working your ankles, feet, legs and whole body. Single Time Steps, tap steps, shuffles you are familiar with. Drills and close work exercises as well as prep work for routines. Check out the classes with Karen here. 

Show Tap – you have an advanced beginner upwards level of tap and would love to join in classes where routines come from musical numbers. Familiarity with steps and ability to recall them either through their names or what they look like. Classes currently working on numbers from Big the Musical. 

Inter Tap – You have already mastered basic steps and close work and are now working on solidifying tap steps and adding to your technical vocabulary. Choreographed routines are more challenging and faster but still easy to grasp. 

Technical Tap – Does what it says on the tap tin. A technical class where you have an intermediate to advanced level of tap. Pick up heels and triplet step combos are areas you want to focus on and develop the skills further. Timesteps involve quadruples, stamp pick ups and pick up breaks. 

Tap Gap – the highest level of tap and you are experienced with the steps. A fast and fun advanced tap class for those with plenty of tap experience.

Tap classes are on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Please have a look at the timetable here. 

Tap Dance Shoes

Which tap class is for me?

Ahhh now, this really depends on when you can fit tap dance into your lifestyle and daily life as well as your tapping level. Please get in touch with us here to ask and also check out studio classes or livestream so you can see which you would be comfortable in. Or have a chat with us and we can advise you which you might enjoy most. 

There are also tap workshops help periodically so keep an eye on these pages especially if you are new to tap and want to gain a good grounding on steps. Keep an eye out on our social media feeds. We also have some top tap steps coming soon. 

Tap dance can be started at any age. Some have started in childhood but I started off when First Dance Studios held a workshop in May 2019. This was the first time I had ever put tap shoes on. I was a mere babe of 38 years old and I loved it so much that during lockdown of 2020 I signed up to as many tap dance classes as I could. They say practice makes perfect and they would be correct! I can now do single leg pick ups and not stick my tongue out in concentration too much! I still go wrong, I still miss steps out and I still forget if I needed to do a step pickup heel or a heel pick up step but it is so much fun that I come back week after week. One day I will master the nemesis steps. Until then I still need to figure out the clapping thing – it is just me right? 

What tap shoes do I need?

Investing in a good pair of tap shoes is a very good idea. However if you are new to tap and unfamiliar with what options there are then come and have a chat with us. We have some tap shoes that you could try and see how you get on with those. For those that are familiar to tap, there are several options. From the low heels, lace up to ribbon tie and also tap sneakers there is a lot of choice. You can also have different heights though we would recommend that you stick to a lower heel especially for starting as it is important practice to develop the ankle, leg and calf muscles as much as possible. 

Is tap dance a full work out?

In a word. Yes! Tap requires stamina and classes focus on warming up the body with emphasis on the ankles and knees so these work for those all important steps like those juicy sounding pick ups and pull backs. There is a major element on bounce and elevation to ensure that steps can be completed. It is a complete body work out and a great way to release built up tension and energy. Pound out the sound through your feet. 

Come along and discover the tap dance craze for yourself. If you want to sign up and be your own syncopated sister or stomping showstopper then join us. Every other year we have a huge show number, this time it is Dames from the show spectacular that is 42nd Street. Along with other featured dances with music from the Greatest Showman and some Shakin’ Stevens. After starting to tap with us, we dare you to look at any floor and not think about tapping on it! 

Everyday is a Happy Tappy Day with First Dance studios. For further information please contact us. Keep tapping!

First Dance, For all.

xx

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