The origins of Tap Dance - Reigate School of Ballet



We all know what tap dance is - it's a dance style that incorporates sharp rhythms, cross phrasing, accents especially on the off-beats (stressing the off-beats - is called syncopation), balance and flow. The performers wear metal "taps" on the ball and the heel of the shoe which in turn make the distinctive sound. Wheareas other dance styles accompany music visually through movement, tap adds to the rhythms of the accompanying music.

There are two main styles of tap:

1. broadway TAP ("tappers") - these combine elements of ballet and jazz and use their upper bodies and arms into their choreography. Although ballet and tap and very different in their styles, stars such as Gene Kelly managed to combine the gracefulness of ballet with the rhythmic complexities of tap.


2. rhythm TAP ("Hoofers") - make their feet sound like drums and are the choreography is nearly always improvised, using every part of the tap shoe.

Fred Astaire added a ballroom style to his tap routines while the Nicholas Brothers added more acrobatics and wow-factor to their dances:


a brief history

Very brief - a combination of African rhythms transferred to the feet and Irish step-dancing.

During the slave trade, American slave-holders banned the use of drumming, as the African slaves communicated through rhythms. However, the African people held on to their traditional rhythms and transferred all their rhythms to their feet. In the mid 19th century, these rhythms were combined with Irish clog steps to create a unique style called "buck and wing", which we now know as Modern Tap Dance.

Today, tap dance has evolved and is still widely used in many productions such as "42nd Street", "Singing in the Rain", Anything Goes", "Guys and Dolls", "Crazy for You" and "Billy Elliot" to name a few.

tap dance classes in Reigate and Redhill

Both RSB Dance and the Reigate School of Ballet and Commercial Dance have taught tap for a long time. It can be a difficult dance style to master, as it requires a good sense of rhythm as well as loose ankles. However, it can be very rewarding when the sound comes together, and the sense of unity is infectious.

Our teachers are qualified to teach tap to Advanced level, - for more information, please visit our tap page.

In the meantime, let us leave you with one of our young tap classes starting to perfect a short rhythmic exercise (a single time step).

Keeeeeeep Tapping!


#History #reigate #dancenews

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Reigate School of Ballet & Commercial Dance 
20 Clarence Road, Redhill RH1 6NG

Images courtesy of Emma Benjamin, Gareth Jones RSB and © pic-unique, © Alex White, Konstantin Yuganov, tonisalado, martanfoto, Lorelyn Medina, Laurent Hamels, © BlueOrange Studio, Carlush, Hazel Barnes Photography, xavdip, Lorraine Swanson,Alexander Iakovlev, Lorelyn Medina © eranicle - Fotolia.com. Val Liza - Shutterstock.com

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© 2017 by Gareth Jones.