Scroll down for a bunch of useful information about getting started in Tap Dance (including recommendations for shoes, flooring and other nifty tools). For those keen to read up about tap dance and its history, we’ve also included a list of books that will keep you busy for quite some time.
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You don’t need much to get started in tap dance (not even tap shoes). Just a little space to move around.
But if you’re keen to continue the journey in tap, then you’ll want to start thinking about setting yourself up with a few important items, including:
MUSIC PRACTICE TOOL (For adjusting speed)
I’ve done a lot of research into all of these, and have tried many different options.
Here’s the stuff I use and recommend:
If you’re keen to continue your journey in tap dance, then a quality pair of tap shoes are a non-negotiable investment. They are the tools that bring your instrument to life, and quick become good friends. I’ve tried a lot of tap dance shoes in the past, and have listed some favorites below. If you can, I recommend getting to a dance store and trying some on in person.
MY PICK: STARTER SHOE / ALL ROUNDER: BLOCH ‘RESPECT’ LACE UP OXFORD
A fantastic shoe, worn by both men and women. Comfortable, durable and well priced. I’ve loved my ‘RESPECTS’, and have happily recommended them a lot over the years. A perfect starter shoe, that will last.
Also check out: CAPEZIO ‘Cadence’
Once you get to the Intermediate / Advanced level, you find that something with a little more ‘gumption’ is required, and neither of these options will disappoint. I’ve worn and loved them both.
JSS: I wore the ‘J-SAMS’ for 5+ years, and love the built up sole, the comfort, the style and the deep sound these shoes can pull from the floor. They’re quite heavy – some may find too heavy – but I personally like a heavier shoe. A great, very well priced option for Intermediate, Advanced or Pro Tap dancers.
K360: The global standard of professional Tap Dance shoe. Strong, durable and magical to dance in (especially once they’re ‘broken in’). They’re a little tougher than the J-SAMS, and take a little longer to take shape around your foot, but may well last you longer as a result.
You really can’t go wrong with either, I feel.
Note: All of the above are unisex options. A traditional ladies heeled tap shoe is also a solid option, and many choose these for the specific look. It’s all personal preference and either way is great.
ALSO WORTH A LOOK…
Artefyl – (What I’m currently wearing – my tan Tap Boots). Beautiful custom-made tap shoes and tap boots. The company is based in Madrid, but have very reasonable worldwide shipping rates. Again, tell them I sent you
~ SHOE FAQ ~
Do I NEED Tap shoes?
Not strictly speaking. If you’re a first timer, start off with shoes you already own – ones that have the hardest sole possible.
That said, there is nothing quite like your first pair of Tap shoes. Once you’ve tested the water and are ready to commit to your tap dance journey, then a quality pair of Tap shoes is the next step. Rarely a regretted investment, your Tap shoes will quickly become close friends
Where do I get tap shoes from?
There are lots of great online retailers, but most dance stores will stock Tap shoes (Bloch & Capezio are the most common dance shoe brands, stocked in dance shops all over the world – see above for more options).
Are ‘split-sole’ Tap shoes good for beginners?
The short answer: No. I don’t think they’re good for anyone.
As the name suggests, split sole shoes don’t have a continuous hard sole from the top to bottom of the shoe, and thus allow the foot to be pointed freely. While some styles of Tap may call for this, I personally feel that a full-sole Tap shoe is better for Tap dancers of all levels; split-sole shoes can end up feeling flimsy, and not supportive to the feet. Avoid, friends.
TAP PRACTICE FLOORS
What’s a metronome? A nifty device used to keep time / hold a tempo. A metronome is a great practice tool, and one that I recommend to all my students when getting started. This will help you to chart your progress when practicing, and see that you’re actually speeding up!
A traditional ticking metronome will certainly do the trick, but there are some great apps that will give you some great flexibility and functionality…
A paid option (well worth the small cost):
(Speeding up / Slowing Down)
The first app I go to: Anytune Pro (IOS only)
As Tap dancers, sometimes we need to slow down or speed up our music (without changing pitch) to maximize our practice time. ‘Anytune’ does this and so much more. It’s absolutely packed with features which you can delve into, but it’s also user-friendly if you’re happy to stick with the simple stuff. I personally love that you can put markers throughout your tracks so that you can quickly come back to these specific time-codes, and jump between them.
It’s awesome. Perfect for practicing, teaching or choreographing. I use it everyday.
It’s available for both IOS and Android.
The downside: Anytune Pro (IOS) doesn’t seem to have an integration with streaming music services such as Spotify and Apple Music. As many of us consume music in this way, an app compatible with these services is crucial for the modern dancer. Interestingly, the Android version does seem to have this functionality.
We’re currently on the hunt for an alternative with Spotify and Apple Music functionality. If you’ve found one, let us know!
to have handy...
Mirror (the bigger the better)
With these tools at the ready, you’ll be all set for a fulfilling tap dance adventure, now and into the future.
On Tap Dance and History
These published works will no-doubt keep the avid reader busy, with plenty of amazing tap dance stories, history and reference information to dive into. I’ve found each of them interesting and/or helpful on my journey.
In no particular order:
Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History by Constance Valis Hill
What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing by Brian Seibert
Tapworks: A Tap Dictionary and Reference Manual by Beverley Fletcher
That’s all for now, friends.
Have you found a nifty Tap resource that should be included on this page? Let us know!
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