Tap dancing classes - what do I need?

Tap dancing is a style of dance characterised by a distinctive tapping sound created by metal plates called taps on the heel and toe of the dancer’s shoe. The dancer performs on a hard surface so their tap shoes create a percussive sound which synchronises with the rhythm of the music.

Tap dancing is a very exciting form of dance which requires specialist dancewear. The most important element of this is the tap shoes which are available in many different styles. The soles of your tap shoes need to be firm so they offer the stability required by tap dancers. Tap shoes are available with both a full sole and a split sole. Beginners usually start with full sole tap shoes and advance to split sole tap shoes as they gain more experience. This is because the split sole allows for more flexibility for the foot.

You should try to avoid purchasing rubber sole tap shoes as these can cause unwanted grip making it difficult to execute spins and turns during your dance. Tap dance shoes are often flat but may also have a heel such as a low heel or Cuban heel. Beginners often prefer a lower heel tap shoe or even flat heel tap shoe when they learn their first tap dance steps. Tap dancers tend to progress to heeled tap shoes as they become more advanced.

The tap dancer can choose from a variety of toe taps and heel taps to attach to their tap shoes. The main distinction between different types of taps for your tap shoes is whether they come with a sounding board or whether they fix straight onto the tap shoe itself. A beginner will usually learn their first tap dancing steps with basic taps such as a horseshoe heel tap and basic toe tap. As they become more advanced, they may well choose a pair of taps with a sounding board. Sounding boards allow the tap dancer to adjust the screws to ensure their tap dancing shoes produce the right kind of tapping sound required by the dance.

You need only look to some of the tap dancing legends such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly to see that there is no strict uniform for tap dancers. However, the tap dancer’s clothing should be designed to allow ample freedom of movement. It is advisable for beginners to use a single costume such as a leotard which will help them feel comfortable in the performance and keep tap dancing affordable. If you want a different look, you can choose a leotard in a different material or maybe use a hint of accessories.

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