TAP DANCE RESOURCES
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.
GET STARTED IN TAP DANCE – WHAT YOU’LL NEED
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:
- Tap shoes
- Practice Floor
- Music Practice Tool (For slowing down and speeding up music)
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, which I personally like. A great, very well priced option for Intermediate, Advanced or Pro tappers.
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. 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.
Split sole shoes allow the foot to be pointed freely. While some styles of tap dance may call for this, I personally feel that a full-sole tap shoe is more appropriate for tap dancers of all levels; split-sole shoes can end up feeling flimsy, and unsupportive to the feet. Avoid, friends.
Option 1 —> MAKE YOUR OWN!
While a professionally made tap floor is handy to have, you can easily make your own. A simple piece of plywood (minimum 1m x 1m) purchased from your local hardware store, together with some rubber, foam or even a yoga mat stuck to the underside will do the trick! Keep in mind, tap dancing on wood in a small space can be somewhat deafening, for you and your neighbours.
WHAT I USE:
I call this the ‘noise cancelling’ option; try laying a plastic floor protector (the kind that would go under an office chair) under some carpet, lock-together camping-style foam padding or some yoga mats. This will deaden the sound enough to keep the neighbors happy, but will still allow you to clearly hear the sound of the taps. Bliss.
Option 2 —> COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE FLOORS
There are a few good tap floor options around; I’m fond of FasFoot. Their floors are durable, sound and feel great, are easy to store and come in a range of different colors and sizes, though I find them quite loud in a small space. They’re a US based company, and so the international shipping rates get a bit hefty if you’re outside the US, but aside from that, the FasFoot is a great floor that will last. Tell Eric I sent you, and kindly request that he responds to my email 😉
THE RULE: Never tap dance directly on concrete.
Always be safe and kind to your body.
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!
Give this one a go. It’s simple and straight-forward, and will do everything you need it to.
MUSIC SLOWING DOWN / SPEEDING UP
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 track 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.
The downside? It’s only available on IOS (apple devices). No Android version as of yet.
The second app I go to: Amazing Slow Downer (IOS and Android)
The only thing that Anytune Pro doesn’t seem to have (as of writing) is 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.
Now, heads up…
The app works well on the whole (including with Spotify), but the interface is no-where near the sophistication of Anytune Pro, and in my experience, the app does tend to be slightly crashy. You’ll need an internet connection (or phone data) in order to play and manipulate the music – I haven’t been able to make it work with downloaded songs on Spotify.
But, the simple fact is I need an app that works with Spotify. This is the best I could find, and for the most part, it ticks the boxes for me. Hopefully, with time the app will continue to improve. Check it out here (IOS and Android)
OTHER THINGS TO HAVE HANDY FOR TAP DANCE
- Mirror (the bigger the better)
- Practice Sheet (here’s one I’ve made for you)
- Video Camera
With these tools at the ready, you’ll be all set for a fulfilling tap dance adventure, now and into the future.
BOOKS ON TAP DANCE & TAP 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
Note: Commissions may be earned from the links above.