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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Whenever the audience beholds a tap dance performance, they always marvel at how a dance style also function as a percussive instrument. Thanks to the tap dancer’s agile and rhythmic movements, dance shoes become a source of pure delight. Tap dancing is as much music as it is dance, which falls in two main categories: the Broadway tap and the rhythm or Jazz tap dance.
The word jazz comes up here mainly because of tap dancing strong ties to this ‘50s music and dance genre, one of America’s giant contributions to art and culture. Our first encounter with tap dancing is probably through musical theater, as tap dance became a major feature of plays from its heyday in the ‘30s. Today popular musical theater productions, such as Chicago, continue to incorporate tap dance.
The dancer performs a series of rhythmic let movements bearing a pattern and tempo. Dance shoes are made with metal taps on the toe and heel, creating an infectious, melodic sound when the dancer starts hitting the stage with dance steps.
The main difference between Broadway tap and rhythm tap is function. Rhythm tap puts an emphasis on the musicality of the dance steps, how it’s akin to the free flowing rhythm of jazz music. Broadway tap is big on dance as a component of a bigger theater production.
The equally rousing and charming Irish step dancing is one of tap dance’s forebears. But it is African American dances, like the Juba Dance, that tap dance takes significant roots.
Choreography in tap dance relies strongly in the rhythm unit called beat count as well as a good deal of improvisation, taking its cue from Jazz. Most performers follow musical accompaniment, while others rely solely on their dance shoes to create music and dance simultaneously.
The most basic tap dance steps involve shuffles, flaps and cramprolls, hitting the floor alternatingly with the ball and heel of the foot. Combining more complicated steps such as the paradiddle or triple time steps make for a compelling tap dance, while professionals use a great deal of rhythm changes and improvised step additions to shape the choreography.
When you witness a tap dance performance that produces a louder and firmer sound, the dance is being performed by what they call Hoofers. Their dance is sometimes called “rhythm tap.” Hoofers are among the first kind of tap dancers, combining African influences with Irish step dance, a style that primarily uses the legs. When tap dance developed and became a phenomenon in America, the dance penetrated the stage, and grew into the kind of tap dancing we know today, which also uses arms and hand movements during a performance. This variety is also called “show tap.”
Some of the most iconic purveyors of tap are Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Kelly fused his ballet background to create a fluidly graceful brand of tap dancing. Fred Astaire infused ballroom steps into dap dancing and innovated on style. Their efforts became known until today as Broadway tap. Broadway tap performers wear high-heeled dance shoes and dance to show tunes and musical theater numbers.
If you’re interested in getting started with tap dance, we have just the beginner tap shoes for you. Visit www.alycedancewear.com for info on tap shoes and prices.
A conflation of many dance styles, modern jazz or jazz dance has become a favorite among beginning and amateur dancers who love twisting and turning in their jazz shoes. Modern jazz dance emerged from the golden age of jazz music in the 1950s. Before it was popularized as a distinct genre of dance, modern jazz still belonged to a broader classification called jazz dance, a style culled from African American vernacular dance. Tap dancing, Boogie Woogie, and Jitterbug were some of the other dance styles under jazz dance category.
It was until the ‘50s when Katherine Dunham transformed the genre, and then came modern jazz. Other styles separated and developed individually, while modern jazz became a staple on Broadway shows, incorporating a smoother, fluid style of dance that is practiced today. Shows like Chicago and Cabaret are two of the most famous examples exhibiting the modern jazz dance style.
Beginners need to get acquainted with basic modern jazz knowledge. Performers wear jazz shoes, which usually are split-toe slip-ons with leather soles. Jazz shoes allow for ease of movement, especially when doing turns.
When it comes to technique, modern jazz embraces an array of dance styles, primarily ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, and lyrical. Modern jazz is often performed with a nod to its Afro-Caribbean roots. Many type of dancers find it relatively easy to perform modern jazz, but those with a strong ballet foundation excel.
Center control is highly regarded in modern jazz. This refers to the dancer’s ability to execute movements that seem to rise from a center of balance. Control and balance are important when performing dance moves that normally should disrupt one’s balance. Expect also plenty of fouettés and pirouettes, controlled by a dancer’s excellent spotting. As with ballet, modern jazz values being on point. Dancers align their toes with their legs while performing in jazz shoes.
Dancer wear for modern jazz depend on a given performance piece, but beginners should start with a good pair of tights and leotards. Jazz pants, a lighter and tighter version of sweatpants, is also an option. Female modern jazz dancers can also wear dance skirts with shorts or throw a ballet skirt over their tights.
Beginning modern jazz dancers must possess superb flexibility. The movements that modern jazz commands require you at your most flexible, lest you break our center control. Before starting your modern jazz training, you should undergo some strength training as well. This will prepare your muscles for the strain of performing modern jazz movements. You are required to stretch and use your muscles at maximum. Early on, practice some flexibility exercises, such as stretching your leg muscles until you are able to perform splits, back bends, and lift your leg that it touches the side of your head.
Expressiveness is another element that beginners need to take heed. With its close ties to musical theater, modern jazz requires a dramatic presence. Performers should be ready to project a range of emotions through movement, from desire, apathy, rage, sadness, to joy. The dance requires you to execute the technical complexity inherent in ballet, while also bearing the passion and expressiveness of a theater actor.
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