Pick up where you left off! At First Dance Studios, be aware that tap is very addictive. Tap dancing definitely needs to come with a “we’re having too much fun” warning. We have lots of tap classes a week for adults of mixed abilities and whether you want to polish your pendulum time steps or be in a show number, tap dance sessions have it all. And over this month and next we have a few masterclasses in tap technique to take you to new tap heights.
What is the best tap dance tip?
Tap dance like the other dance disciplines requires practice, perseverance and patience. By following the shapes and recognising the sounds of the steps, slowly and surely you will be rewarded with the sound of many tappity taps. A top tip for tap is tension.
What is Tap Tension?
A really key notion to have while tap dancing is that of tension. We all know about loose ankles and core strength but foot tension is crucial to wrap your head and toes around. And toes are the top of the tension tree – by imagining gripping a pencil with your toes. Squeeze that pencil too tightly and that foot will be too heavy, too lightly and that foot will flop. So working out the correct amount for you is the key to tap for many of the steps. Which brings us to the principle of the pick up step.
What are tap dance pickups?
This week, Karen talks and taps us through pick-ups. What are they we hear you cry? A pick up is a step that has a few extra sounds to them that give a wonderful rain of taps when used in dance. The pick up is a step which is a hop/jump that has two sounds. Excuse me? How is that even possible? The tap sounds are both done on the ball of the foot. Feet take off and while doing so clip the floor making sound number one. Then the second sound is when you land back on the floor. Da-Dum. The length of time between the first and second sound can be altered. But for a moment you are actually hanging out in the air to separate the sounds. The aim is to get a crisp click of a sound when you take off and land.
When learning to do pick ups as a beginner tap dancer the foot is placed with the toe up and heel down. As an introduction to tap that works well and the brain and body learn the concept. However the next stage is to achieve the sound without taking this foot position. Why? Because that is a step movement that would take a beat too long in a dance and so the step now has a shortcut to achieve that crucial sound. However it takes practice as weight placement, leg muscles, ankles, toes and brain need to work out why they all need to do to achieve that goal of a click and land.
OMG – I have been here for months and months. It has been great doing these classes from home, watching live online, as I can vent out loud, as I can’t land that sound. I follow the shape, I jump up (and more up), I try simultaneously squeezing my core, relaxing the ankle, sticking my tongue out (what-it helps ok!) and allowing my brain to take a walk in the garden else it will over ride my feet. And guess what….no sound. Anyone else feel this frustration? But persevere, you will be rewarded with that sound.
I pick-up promise! It takes time, effort but when you finally hear that clean crisp click as the tap plate strikes the floor, you will feel….ohhhh very accomplished. Because yes, I can finally pick up on the left leg…just please don’t ask me about that right leg…it hops up and down rather nicely though…..yep that foot needs more work! Areas that Karen explores is the tendency to travel with a pick up and also that key knee placement.
Every Saturday at noon online, streaming both live and available as a recording so you can follow along. I like going along to class and then repeating the exercises afterwards and pausing the video to think it through. Come on right leg, you’re up next – work it, pick yourself up!
Easy as this. You contact us here or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the log in details, grab your iPad, phone, laptop and log on! Karen takes us through a warm up, explains the exercises, breaks down visually and aurally the shape, steps and sounds and if you have any questions ask them! We are all likely wanting to ask them as well.
Karen has been taking us through tap techniques every week every time we are in lockdown. So far we’ve covered close work, rolls, time steps and much more. The hour long masterclass has Karen both facing away and to the camera so that the steps can be seen clearly and easily. Please do contact us for further information and to sign up to the classes or the recordings. Check out the link below for a video on time steps.
And after this technique class you have two, yes I said two, tap routine classes to put practice to good use. First straight after technical class we have 1pm Tap Routine class with Karen and then at 2.45pm Show Tap routines with Emma. Check them out here, videos on the dance section.
Double Tap the Screen every Saturday!