LEVELS: From Beginner through Professional for ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, 16-18, and Adult.*

Pronunciation: ‘tap Function: noun/Date: 1846 1: a step dance tapped out audibly by means of shoes with hard soles or soles and heels to which taps have been added. Tap dancing is considered to be the most American of all dance forms. The two most important cultures that merged to give us the beginnings of American Tap Dancing were the Irish immigrants and the Negro slaves. The Negro, deprived of his drums, turned to using his feet to beat out the rhythms of his tribal heritage and rites. Unlike the Irish clog dancer, who brought with them their rigid and stately jigs and reels.

In the early 1880s, as Vaudeville evolved, many performers of “tap” were brought to the forefront. Many different styles were created which gradually separated into two distinct schools. The Buck and Wing dancer wore wooden-soled shoes, as did the Irish Clog dancer. The Soft Shoe dancer abstained from making any loud sounds by wearing soft-soled shoes. Metal taps were introduced about 1915. Eventually, the two schools of style merged and both used “taps.”

Early tap dance lessons and terminology were mostly a “hand-me-down” affair, one dancer passing his or her knowledge to another. Although Vaudeville produced many “steps” and “combinations” that were recognized and used as technique when giving tap dance lessons, it wasn’t until the late 1930s that a codified set of terms was put down on paper. Physical education teachers in colleges and universities who taught tap class as a physical activity did this. Eventually, they included the musical counts, which defined the rhythm of the movement and made it easier for others to teach tap dance lessons. From the late 1930s and into the 1950s, a fairly standard form of tap notation and terminology had been established. This was due greatly to dance teachers organizations such as DMA, DEA, NADAA, CNADM etc. who held seminars and conventions pertaining to tap dance lessons, thus creating the need for written notes of material presented.


Learn this very American dance style; sign up for tap class with the Robert Mann Dance Centre in Bayside!