Ten Reasons Why Everyone Should Learn to Tap Dance
Everyone can do it! Tap dance is popular among the preschool set and senior citizens…and everyone in between. Whether you are a young child just starting dance lessons, or an adult who has always secretly wanted to try… there is a class and a level for you. Tap dance is not a traditionally “girly” dance form either. Many famous tappers today are men who make tap dance look decidedly masculine. Check out Savion Glover or the hit show “Tap Dogs”. Tap dance can be adapted for every fitness level and skill level. And it still looks and sounds terrific.
Tap dance makes lots of noise! Whether you are 3 or 103, everyone loves to make a little noise now and then. Tap dancing can be a uniquely satisfying physical and emotional release because of its ability to produce sound. For children who are constantly being told to sit down and be quiet, being allowed to stand up and make noise can be particularly cathartic. Tap dance holds the same therapeutic benefits for teens, adults, seniors…anyone looking to find their voice.
Tap dance makes you smarter. Tap dancing consists of learning rhythm patterns. Learning and memorizing patterns is a great workout for your brain. And it’s all math. Repeating, reversing and counting the rhythm patterns reinforces math concepts that younger students are learning in school. And for the adults and seniors… we all know that mental exercise promotes healthy brain activity and can help ward off disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. So get tapping!
Tap dance is a great workout. Learn a few basic patterns and you are off to a great cardio workout. Tap dance gets the heart rate up in a way that’s way more enjoyable than a jog around the block. It tones the major muscle groups in the legs and core and is a super fun way to stay in shape.
Tap dance works the core for improved balance. Knowing where the body’s weight should be and when to shift the weight from one foot to the other is essential for proper tap technique. One of the first things you should learn in any tap class is proper weight placement over the balls of the feet with soft knees and an engaged core. Training the muscle memory in this way improves balance, coordination and control. And the benefits of a strong core are numerous, including less back pain and risk of falling.
Tap dance is steeped in history. American masters such as Leonard Reed and Bill Robinson shaped the dance form into what it is today. Tap dance is very much an oral and demonstrated tradition with skills, steps and choreography passed from teacher to student for generations. There is a certain reverence for the masters that motivates and inspires students even today. The legendary Shim Sham Shimmy has been done by tap dancers for over one hundred years… and still entertains and inspires those who see it as it did in Vaudeville times.
Tap dance is one of the only dance genres you are meant to hear. Learning to tap dance is basically learning to play an instrument. Rhythm patterns and clear sounds make this art form so intriguing to the ear. Couple that with upper body movement and traveling around the stage and you’ve got a feast for the senses. The audience can not only enjoy the visual creativity of the performance, but also the rhythm patterns over the chosen music… or even tap dancing making the music all by itself. It adds a whole new dimension to the art of dance.
Tap dance is portable. While many dance genres would need a wide-open space for performance, tap dance is traditionally quite humble…fitting itself into life and appearing on street corners, in dance halls and anywhere where enthusiasts gather. Tap dance can be practiced literally anywhere. And you don’t need your tap shoes on to do it! The aisles of the food store are great for traveling steps. The bathroom floor is a great practice space while brushing teeth, or in front of the copier at work. Under your desk during math class (quietly) is a great place to practice patterns… any place the feet have a bit of room to move. It’s contagious!
Tap dance is a very social art form. Throughout the history of tap dance, performers have come together for friendly competition, tap offs and “conversations” had through sound. Tap dance has even been used in African and Irish cultures as a way of communicating without words. American tap dance as we know it today is a unique blend of its African and Irish roots that met and merged in the early part of the 20th century in casual settings and even on street corners before moving to the Vaudeville stage.
Everyone loves to watch a tap dance. Tap dance is a crowd pleaser every time! I’ve never seen a somber audience during a tap performance…or a somber performer for that matter. Senior citizens love to watch tap dance…so do preschoolers. Whether we are watching or participating, tap dance is an all-American art form that everyone seems to enjoy.
Want to get tapping? Danceworks offers tap lessons in New Jersey for ages 4 through 104. We have recently added two new tap classes: Beginner adult tap and boys only tap on Wednesday evenings. Please contact the studio at firstname.lastname@example.org to get in on the fun!