Introduction to Tap Dance
Tap dance is a distinctive form of dance characterized by creating rhythmic patterns and timely beats with the feet. It’s an amalgamation of African dance forms, British Isle folk dance, accelerated minstrel routines, and a plethora of other influences. This creative dance style has traversed a long path to become one of the most charismatic and entertaining performance forms in the world of dance.
The Evolution of Tap Dance
The roots of tap dance stretch back to the mid-19th century, fused within American minstrel shows. The integration of the ‘juba’ or ‘patting juba’ dance styles from West Africa with forms such as the Irish jig and English clog dance led to the birth of the early tap dance styles.
Techniques and Styles in Tap Dance
Diverse influences have led to the birth of several styles of tap dance, which include Rhythm (Jazz) tap, Broadway tap, and Post-Modern tap. Mastering the nuances of these styles can captivate any audience.
Rhythm (Jazz) Tap
This style prioritizes music over visuals and developed parallel to jazz music. Here, tap dancers tend to stay hunched over and closer to the ground, making sure their steps create a rhythmic sync with the music.
Broadway tap is a more flamboyant style, associated with the American Musical Theater. It complements music using rhythmic, percussive footwork and expressive upper body choreography for a visually stunning performance.
Post-modern tap or contemporary tap redefines the possibilities of footwork and rhythm, often breaking traditional conventions to create innovative movements.
The Personality of Tap Dance: Shoes and Beats
Understanding tap shoes is crucial in mastering this dance style. The unique hard sole fitted with metal taps at the heel and toe creates the characteristic ‘tap’ sound. The pitch of the tap sounds alters depending on the type of metal used which can be either aluminum for a softer sound, or steel for sharper, louder taps.
Tap Dance in Pop Culture
Tap dance made its way into popular culture via cinema, famous personalities, and Broadway musicals. Legends in the field, such as Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly, played instrumental roles in bringing tap dance to the mainstream.
Learning Tap Dance: Steps and Techniques
Learning tap dance involves mastering basic moves like the shuffle, ball change, flap, stamp, stomp, buffalo, Maxie Ford, and the chug. Understanding these primary steps forms the foundation for complex routines.
Benefits of Tap Dance
Along with being a fun, rhythmic, and expressive dance form, tap dance also offers a multitude of benefits. It’s a great way to improve cardiovascular health, coordination, flexibility, strength, and rhythm. It also has mental rewards, helping to improve concentration, reduce stress, and enhance mood.
Tap dance, with its rhythmic complexities, intricate footwork, and irresistible charm, has cemented its place in the world of performing arts. Each style of tap dance adds its unique flavor and allure, keeping enthusiasts and audiences endlessly entertained.
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