The core of tap dancing is the rhythms you create and the way you create them. You are free to choose the complexity level of your rhythms. As a beginner, it may be a good idea to start with nursery rhythms. The process works the same way as for drummers. Beginning tap dancer can be under great confusion and frustration as they sometimes can hear the rhythms in their head but unable to tap them out in a coordinated way with the feet.


This is where it is important to recognize the other component in tap dancing, weight shifting. As toddlers we learn very quickly how to walk and then to run. But once we master those abilities and are able to get to where we want to go, we typically stop “teaching” our feet. Think about it. When we walk we are usually going in a forward direction while stepping right, left, right, left, etc. But in tap dancing we may move forward, backward, sideways, up and down, or not in any direction at all! We often make several sounds while standing on one foot before shifting to the other foot. In other words, the tap dancer must become very aware of where he/she needs his/her body weight to go to in order to help create the step! Children who skip, jump rope, or play the game of hopscotch learn this at a basic level very quickly.


Although the majority of the action in tap dancing rests at the feet, the truth is the entire body needs to be involved. With this in mind I suggest a game. Think of a rhythm. You can listen to your favorite song to help you find one if you like. Or you can simply use the happy birthday song. Now that you have your rhythm in your head, see how many different ways you can think of to tap out that rhythm with your feet. Do not worry about “looking good”. This is just an exercise in different ways to shift your weight.


When the music moves you, move to the music. Pretend the floor is a big drum and your feet are the drumsticks! The possibilities are endless and so is the fun. Once you get the sense of what tap dancing feels like, you are ready to learn specific steps that will lead to combination’s. Pretty soon you are doing routines and having the time of your life. So do not be afraid to pick up some tap shoes and join in!


Cleve Asbury is the Owner and Director of Broadway Performing Arts located in Bloomfield, New Jersey and serving the greater New York City area.

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