Tap dancing combines movement and music through dance and makes for a delightful form of entertainment. Since its rise from the ‘30s, tap dance has been a staple of musical theater and staged dance performances. Kids and adults alike can learn tap dancing for fun and maybe even find a true knack. Choosing tap dance costumes is not that hard but you need to pay attention to certain details in order for your performance to go smoothly. We’re giving you some pointers on how to choose your tap dance costumes.
First thing you have to know is that tap dance costumes should be made of comfortable material, usually made of stretchy fabric like Lycra, enabling you to move as freely as possible. Wear light clothing when you rehearse and perform on stage. Many tap dancers prefer dancewear that is tight and snug. Not only that that they’re able to move with ease, the audience get to focus on their movement. Baggy clothing such as oversized pants and balloon skirts get in the way of those tap combinations. Footwork is the foundation of tap dancing. You should wear dance clothes that highlight the movement of your leg and feet.
Once you’ve covered function, you can move on to style. Women tap dancers can wear flapper dress, reminiscent of the vaudeville era where tap featured prominently. Jazz costumes can also be worn, as well as cabaret. Tight fitting pants called unitards are usually paired with sequined tops that accentuate the part of the body that moves less when tap dancing. Leotards are also popular, along fringe, and shorts and skirts that show off the dancer’s legs.
Men can wear comfortable shirts that are snug around the arms. Tight, collared vests can also be an option, while trousers have to be the right length. Pants shouldn’t be baggy or too long, otherwise the fabric would get caught on the tap shoes. Tap dancers look good wearing suspenders over a plain white shirt and black slacks. A bow or tie would also be a charming touch. Dancing accessories may include top hats, beret, gloves, light headpieces, armbands and canes.
Perhaps the most important component in tap dance is the shoes. Most beginners wear black leather shoes. While more experienced dancers go with high-heeled tap shoes or ordinary footwear, such as cowboy boots sneakers, with metals attached to the heel and soles. Tan colored tap shoes are easy to match with any outfit. When dancers want to accentuate their legs, they match the color of their shoes and pants. Tap shoes also come in silver, white, beige and other shades of brown and gray.
Tap dancers can adapt their costumes to the storyline or theme of their dance numbers. From the classic Fred Astaire dance suit to the more unorthodox outfits on the stage like a policeman’s attire, a chef, a construction worker, a cowboy, a fairy or other fictional costumes. As long as these character costumes were made with comfort and freedom of movement in mind, tap dancers are sure to rock it on stage.
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Movement is everything in dance. But equally important is a dance costume that shouldn’t only go with the music’s theme but should also complement the choreography. Before you pick or create costumes for your next dance presentation at school or a public performance, we’ve gathered a few pointers for you to consider.
As a dancer you understand the visual importance of good dance attire. You may already grasp a few ideas on what to wear while making the early parts of choreography, or perhaps after hearing the song or music several times. That’s why it is important to know your music. If you’re not a dancer but is tasked to create or prepare dance costumes, then you should know that you can’t possibly make anything without getting acquainted first with the song.
Ask the choreographer to give you a copy of the dance music they’ll be using. Listen to the song or track and determine what kind of movements the dancers will be making—are they slow and graceful, or choppy and quick. You’ll have an idea when you listen and absorb the music. Loose and diaphanous skirts are usually paired with leotards for slow to moderately paced songs. Hip-hop doesn’t have command baggy clothes. The dancers must be able to move freely in their urban-inspired costume.
Once you have a particular song, you’ll be able to trace what genre it belongs to. Pop ballads, classical, blues, alternative or disco—all these musical genres have corresponding looks you should be able to reference for your dance clothes.
Studying the song lyrics, knowing what it’s about, helps a lot in picking dance clothing that fits both the dancer and the dance. If you can’t understand the lyrics, rely on the mood or tone the song tries to convey.
You also get ideas for colors, fabric and texture. Jersey stretches and bounces, while satin flows. See how a fabric’s movement matches the music and choreography. Gold lame is great for disco-inspired modern jazz, while neutral and earthy colors are perfect for moody contemporary.
You should then consider the physicality of the dancers. It goes without saying that you need to get their measurements, but it would also help if you have an idea how old they are. Meet the dancers and take note of their prominent physical features. Be sure they look their best while also able to move without restriction.
Some songs, especially with classical music, feature characters. Are your dancers romantic figures like Tristan and Isolde? Or heroes from mythology like Siegfried. Or maybe your dancer is inspired by the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s Magic Flute. Or the blood-speckled madwoman bride Lucia from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor? Do a quick bit of research so you’ll if you need to create dance costumes for characters. Just make sure the accessories you add don’t inhibit the dancers movement. A cardboard sword for a Viking warrior dancer is a good detail. But unless the dancer will be holding it during the entire dance, the sword will only get in the way.
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