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Growing up as a tap dancer, I had to take all styles of dance. Why? Because I needed to be well rounded. If I ever wanted to audition for something I needed to be able to dance those other styles. I’m so thankful that I had dance teachers and a studio director that made sure she was producing well-rounded dancers. Without being exposed to so many styles of dance at a young age, I wouldn’t be the tap dancer, or dancer, that I am today. So, why are dancers skipping out on their tap classes? If you feel like you don’t need to be in tap class, I’m here to tell you why Tap class is important, and why you should be taking it!
Tap teaches Rhythm and Musicality.
After teaching at numerous studios, and after watching countless hours of competitions, I have found that studios that require their students to take tap classes tend to have a better overall tap program, and their students are better rhythmically with far better musicality. They also tend to have a much better sense for accent, dimension, and shading in their other styles of dance. This is because in tap class, you are learning about music, how to make music, and how to listen to music. Your tap shoes are your instrument, and you are the musician playing your instrument. By learning to dance as both a dancer and a musician, you will start to find your inner rhythm and you’ll have a better sense of the beat of the music. If your critiques are constantly telling you that you’re rushing, or to work on your musicality, taking a weekly tap class is your answer to that problem. Instead of saying “I’m not a tapper”, replace it with the desire to excel in all genres of dance.
Tap class teaches us how to count and how to listen to the music.
Every time I start a new tap class, we count. I know, it sounds silly. We can all count to eight. But what if I told you that not all music is counted in eights? There is a good chance that you are dancing to music in different time signatures without even knowing it. If you understand how to listen and count music, imagine what that could do to the quality of your dancing. Tap class also explores how to count in different notes; quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets, and sixteenth notes. Tap dancing teaches basic music theory, and the better we understand the music, the better we can dance to it!
You want to be a well rounded dancer.
If your goal is to become an employable dancer or succeed in a college dance program, there is a chance that you’ll have to tap dance! One of my former students, Valeria, is currently studying at Pace University in New York City with the hopes of becoming a Radio City Rockette. Growing up, Valeria took tap classes, but then she stopped because it was not a mandatory class. When Valeria got to New York, she realized how important tap dancing is! Valeria wrote me and said, “After years of training as a so-called well rounded and versatile dancer, it is only now in college, studying in Pace University’s Commercial dance program, I find myself realizing that tap dance is truly a foundational style which has helped me further my understanding of dance and music. I wish that tap had not been an optional class growing up in the studio and competition world. I feel like I missed out on
valuable information that tap class offers during a very crucial developmental stage of my life. I have learned that tap technique is so important to know, especially in New York. I find myself surrounded by opportunities to use my (even basic) tap technique to my advantage. My tap knowledge is constantly being tested within the BFA college curriculum at Pace University, during most Broadway show auditions, and of course, it is expected when working with the Radio City Rockettes. I can see that the dancers proficient in tap are the most successful.” I encourage all young dancers that wish to pursue dance as a career to get into tap class!
Tap dance has influenced dance, film, music, and social change in America, and it is an American art form! As dancers, we should want to learn our history in order to understand where we come from, and tap dancing is a part of that history! I encourage all of you to get in a tap class, and learn to love the process of becoming a better, more well-rounded dancer. Tap dancing will teach you rhythm and musicality, how to listen to the music you’re dancing to, and will make you a more well-rounded dancer, which in turn will make you a more employable dancer!
Kelly Krammer has been trained by the American Tap Dance Foundation in New York City and has been teaching dance and choreographing since 2011 at studios across the US. Kelly has won many awards for her choreography at regional and national level competition. She has also taught classes at national dance competitions and conventions and judged several regional and national competitions. Kelly hopes to continue to inspire dancers and encourage the art of tap dancing among young students.