Typically accompanied by jazz musicians and characterized by the sounds of tap shoes hitting the floor as a form of percussion, tap dance has roots in Irish dancing and English Clog dancing. It has two different variations including rhythm (jazz) tap and broadway tap. Rhythm tap mainly focuses on the musicality of tap, while broadway tap focuses on dance and musical theater, often incorporating ballet and ballroom dancing elements.
Tap came from a mixture of cultures and people, but specifically from our African American roots where slaves and Irish indentured servants began to create this unique style of “step” dancing in the cotton fields of the deep south in the 1600s. It took a couple centuries in order for people to start performing tap on stage, and since then many different cultures have put their own flare on the style of dancing by adding different moves like hops, and skips, or adding nails to the bottom of their shoes for more sounds. Normally, the sound of the shoes striking the floor comes from a metal “tap” on the heel and toe, allowing a multitude of variations as each part of the shoe can naturally make different sounds.
This classy style of dancing is important to our studio because it forces our students to keep the beat and stay on time, which is essential to every style of dance. Whether they’re following a certain music number or improvising, tap multiplies the importance of focusing on the steps ahead with specific, rapid footwork. As our students master tap dancing, they also learn to express themselves through the high speed beats and typically dramatic performances that are meant to draw attention and create buzz. This is when the spotlight is officially on our dancers.
How our dancers handle the spotlight and pressure of tap can say a lot about their journey at the Miami Dance Project and is why we pride ourselves to be one of the best tap dance studios in all of Florida. We can easily tell which characteristics of dance our youth need to focus on as it requires a lot of confidence, drive, and dedication to really succeed at keeping time with clear, fast footwork. Additionally, many of our young dancers really enjoy tapbecause of it’s high energy and high intensity style.