As a child, I dreamt of playing professional football. At the same time, my family was always dancing as a way to celebrate. I remember always being drawn to watching classic musicals, and now I see they are filled with amazing tap sequences. Though I was not even remotely interested in dance at that time, I was still amazed at the likes of Bill Robinson, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Donald O’Connor, and so many other great tap dancers that graced the silver screen during the golden days of Hollywood.
When I decided I was going to make dance my life long pursuit, I enrolled in a studio that was managed by a former Fosse student and Broadway performer. After a few weeks of taking classes, he brought me in for a “conversation.” He asked me if I was serious about being a professional dancer. Of course, I said, “Yes!” Then he replied, “You need to learn how to tap.” He gave me my first shoes, and from there, I was all in. I spent hours on my own practicing and trying to get better, as fast as I could. I am sure that I side-stepped a lot of the lower-level process for the sake of “just wanting to get good.” What I have come to realize is that there are a lot of reasons why athletes should take tap.
1. Tap Dance Is Good For The Brain. When you are tap-dancing you are learning rhythms and Patterns. This helps to maintain and build synapsis in the brain medical research has shown that continual stimulation that develops the synapsis has proven to decrease the effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The counting, reversing and rhythms reinforce math concepts that younger students are learning in school.
2. Tap Dance Is A Great Work Out. There is no question that a good combination can get the heart pumping and the lungs heaving. Try to do a bunch of different time steps for 1 5min song and see if you aren’t sucking wind.
3. Tap Dance Can Help Athletes With Their Game: The late Kobe Bryant was known for taking tap class. When asked his reasons he said, “Because it helps with your footwork, balance, timing and strengthens the ankle. (MIC DROP)
4. Dancers NEED It To Truly Be Well Rounded And Employable: I went to a ballet audition at a major company and before the audition began the instructor told everyone to go get their tap shoes. Those that did not have them were excused before the warm-up started. The reason? If you are not ready for anything you are not ready for this program. We are living in a time where no dance style stands alone. If you want to be amazing and contemporary or lyrical you need Ballet and Hip Hop. Both different, but equally important, reasons and if you want to get good at Hip Hop you need tap to help you with your rhythm and timing.
5. Tap Dancing Teaches You How To Count And Hear Music: In tap, we often hit a sound on an accent that people oftentimes don’t hear or realize it there.
6. Tap Dancing Helps To Develop Artistic Quality: When you spend hours and days or even weeks perfecting a step or combination you are like the master sculpture that is creating a masterpiece that will inspire anyone who sees it.
7. Tap Dance Is Cool: There have been so many shows and movies that have put percussive movement into the mainstream and has made it popular to dancers and non-dancer alike; Tap the Movie, Tap Dogs, Bring the Noise Bring the Funk, Dorrance Dance, and Stomp are my personal favorites
8. 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.
9. Tap Dance is Rooted in Tradition. American Tap Dance Masters, like Leonard Reed and Bill Robinson, set the stage for what Tap Dance has become. Tap dance is an oral and demonstrated tradition with skills, steps, and choreography passed from teacher to student for generations. We pay reverence to the masters that came before. As an example, the Shim Sham 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.
10. Tap Dance Can Happen Anywhere, No Shoes Required: You can always peg the tap dancers in a crowd. They are the ones who are moving their feet; regardless of what shoes they have on. You don’t need a special floor, you just need the space that a hula-hoop takes up.
These and many other reasons are why we love Tap and why we created this amazing event. As you can see it goes well beyond just making a sound, just hearing rhythm. The Mile High City Tap Dance Festival events are an amazing way to learn new skills, teaching methods, and history. Ultimately this event will advance your training and connection to the Tap Dance Community.