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Your First Tap Dance Class

tap dance

Photo Credit: Antonio Diaz | Shutterstock

Are you ready to tip-toe into your first tap dance class? Here’s what you need to know:

What does that mean for a tap dance beginner?
In tap dance class, you’ll be training your musical ear as well as your body. Tap dancers use the metal taps on the toes and heels of their shoes to produce an endless variety of sounds and rhythms that differ in dynamics and even pitch.

What will I do in tap class?
If this is a first tap lesson, it is likely your teacher will demonstrate a few ways the toe and heel taps can be used to create different sounds. After introducing you to your new “instrument,” the teacher will begin by warming you up. In a tap class, warm-up exercises usually focus on the ankle and lower leg, and feature repetitions of simple tap movements. This practice teaches you how to shift your weight, how to listen and create clear, distinct sounds.

These basic tap sounds make up the fundamental tap steps upon which all other tap steps are based. You will learn and drill some of these fundamental steps in your tap dance classes.

Once you start getting the hang of tapping, you will build on this foundation by combining tap steps into short combinations that sometimes have their own names. The vocabulary of tap dance can vary by region, but most tap terms come with quite a history, which can make learning about them fun. Your tap teacher may then use these new steps and combinations you’ve learned in a short routine. Like a jazz dance class, it’s hard to know what to expect when it comes to music played during a tap dance class. There are different styles of tap dancing and each has unique characteristics and its own musical flavor.

What should I wear to my tap dance class?
The dress code in most tap classes is casual. Sometimes dance studios will expect specific dancewear but in many cases even street clothes are acceptable. If you are aren’t sure which level of casual is cool, you can’t go wrong with a comfortable, but form-fitting, top and a pair of jazz pants. Pant legs should never be so long or baggy they get caught under your heel.

Whether you need character shoes or a pair of oxfords, be sure to do your homework and invest in a good pair of tap shoes, especially if you know you are into tap dancing for the long haul. If your first tap dance class is just a trial run, a less expensive pair will do!