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Tap - Advanced
*kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Mon Jan 07, 2008 08:46 PM

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Aside from being a massive kick to wake up the forum (hopefully), I'd like to pose a question. There's quite a strong movement towards to 'preservation of purity' in a number of dance forums, which all 'reputable' modern styles tend to nod to before going off and doing their own thing.

Is this true in tap? Where do you feel tap came from? Do you feel that the way you tap now has anything to do with 'real' tap? Do you think anyone dances 'real' tap anymore?

In my personal opinion, tap comes from an interesting irish/jazz fusion that started when the irish migrants came to America. It's got a lot of ties to the African American community, but not solely.

Part of this jazz heritage is "the most popular dance style of the era" and I think this is very true of tap. Whilst I don't think it 'evolves' quite as frequently or overtly as jazz, there's not obvious 'root' to it like there might be in classical ballet. It's incredibly open to interpretation and artistic stylisation... just look at the way wings have evolved (although why anyone wants to do a petal shaped wing and give up things like wing kicks and pendulum wings is beyond me - I have strong suspicions that at some point in time, someone just couldn't do wings properly and taught "their" version of wings to their students, and so on).

Side discussion topic: How related do you feel tap and clogging are?
I've done a bit of clogging and although the placement, shoes and structure is kind of different, a lot of the movements are really very similar. I know that historical and cultural origin have a lot to do with shaping a dance form but in this case? I don't know.

I'd be interested to view footage of clogging from say, 50 years ago to see how similar it was to the way it is now, and the way tap was back then. I'm interested to learn what kind of connection there is between clogging and tap, and if so, when it started (I'm guessing it's more of a contemporary thing, but this is pure speculation).

22 Replies to *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?

re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:00 PM
What I find interesting about tap here in Australia is that you've got the lighter, showier style vs the heavier, more rhythmic style. There is some cross-over (as you and I have encountered, Glitters) but most dance schools seem to stick to the one method.

I'm curious as to how these forms originated. Does the lighter style come more from the Irish roots and the heavier from the African roots?

Helen

P.S I DID try and kick this board into action a while back but nobody was game to try amalgamations. :(
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Tue Jan 08, 2008 03:36 AM
I suck at notation, so I was too chicken. Sorry :(

In Australia, it's like the irish and african american roots almost aren't here. The 'lighter' style is very reminicent of that performed in the 50s - with some ballet/light-footed ballroom thrown in. The heavier style seems to be very Dein Perry influenced.

The Americans also have a heavier style, but quite different (it's like their placement is different, or something. Ours seems to be a bit more... linear? Maybe it's also a difference in performance style).
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By dixietessmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1190, member since Fri Mar 26, 2004
On Tue Jan 08, 2008 03:29 PM
This may take this thread on a slightly different path, but this is my 2 cents that I am very passionate about:

In my experience with Tap in Australia (primarily Melbourne as that's where I am based).. Its quite the opposite.. there is a strong pull to try and steer AWAY from what we see as the "traditional" tap.. which is what I would say you are referring to as the light footed style reminiscent of the 50s..

Well.. maybe that is more a personal pull away from that style, but where I am and the competitions I attend, Close to every single person out there is tapping to piano music in a sparkled leotard. Now my teacher had been over that style since I started tapping, and I got used to tapping to upbeat modern music and doing new and different choreography from the beginning.. with a touch of the more modern "Bootmen" style as well.

I began doing solos at about age 11 or 12, and I would never do a "Traditional Solo", eg I had one with an Austin Powers theme that was loads of fun.
But what I would always get on my crit was: "Interesting Concept" "Interesting choice of music".. And I would rarely come out of the competition with anything more than an HM or a Third.
It was like the competition tapping world down here was, in the most part, still resisting anything that might be different.

I also know that this is not due to my tapping technique because each year I would compete in this "Scholarship" Section, which involves a judged technical class taken by a guest artist as well as a stage solo performance, and my marks in the tech class would always be amazing.

In fact... I got quite down on this, to the point where my teacher said to me: look if you want to win and have all the judges like you, I can give you a routine like theirs, but I have moved on from that style.

I completely understand that there are other factors involved but the fact remains that 98% of people at these competitions are still in their sparkly leos with a "slow-fast" piano music solo. I personally see the need for this to begin to evolve with the times, or if not the entire style evolve, then accomadate for some to evolve, even if some stay with the original style, as this definately shouldnt be forgotten.

The breadth and steps available in this "Traditional" Style are just so limiting! there is a wealth of tap out there, and I am fully for exploration of style and steps and whilst I know it's a difficult ask, I would love to see the community down here begin to globally accept these challenges or at least accept it as a reputable concept to explore within student's solos.

....

Back to the main idea:
Where do I feel tap came from?

To be honest... I have no real clue.. It's like you said, there IS no obvious root. But true to my beliefs, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.. there are soo many styles of tap, each of them with their equal worth, and each should be explored thoroughly, this aspect of the style is one of the things I love most!

There are so many obvious completely separate styles/roots such as:
Latin/Flamenco
Irish
Street
Flapper - Charleston 50's era
Show tap
Rhymic

and there are many I have missed out. which is why I get so frustrated when all of these competition schools are stuck in one single era of tap, which, to be honest to the discussion, isnt even the original roots of tap, just a step along the way.
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Tue Jan 08, 2008 04:40 PM
dixietess wrote:

I completely understand that there are other factors involved but the fact remains that 98% of people at these competitions are still in their sparkly leos with a "slow-fast" piano music solo. I personally see the need for this to begin to evolve with the times, or if not the entire style evolve, then accomadate for some to evolve, even if some stay with the original style, as this definately shouldnt be forgotten.

Girl, you need to move to Sydney ;)

There's still a lot of that here BUT only at minor level. Honestly, I went to an eisteddfod once (where most of the competitors went to one of two schools) and the slow tap section? Was a joke. 14 girls in a row, doing the same routine but steps in different order and in a different coloured costume (leotard and chiffon skirt, feather thing in hair).

The major comps over here are much more fun because we've got a handful of really good, really creative studios. I've only ever seen one 'traditional' slow at City of Sydney - all the others have been 'modern'. One guy did a particularly beautiful waltz in a scarf and long coat (some boy rock band tune) but it was cool.

Consequently a lot of the 'traditional' students and syllabi are beginning to loose their students because they want to try something new (and old ladies find it difficult to change their style).
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Tue Jan 08, 2008 07:51 PM
I think that some people are under the misapprehension that the "traditional" syllabi are the only ones that provide enough of a technical foundation. And this isn't limited to the little old lady studio owners either.

Helen
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By tappingangel Comments: 908, member since Sun Apr 27, 2003
On Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:02 PM
I believe that tap came to play when Al Gilber said "HEY! Let's bore dance teachers and their students out of their minds."

LOL. Just kidding. :D

I agree that tap derives from other forms. I'm based in America, and have never even left the country to go to Canada or Mexico...so, you can imagine that I have only seen tap-around-the-world in videos. As far as America goes, we, too, have the "Broadway style vs. Hoofers." I, personally, am a hoofer. I couldn't tap lightly and "gracefully" if my life depended upon it!!!!!!!

As for the clogging and tap..I've done both as well. There are SO MANY similarities that it's not even funny. I, personally, think that clogging is simply another form of tap...for instance, you could have Broadway tap, Rhythm tap, Hoofing, and Clogging. Also, I've seen clogging done with an Irish influence. If you watch Irish stepping, then tun around and watch a clogging dance, you will see similarities. Maybe someone had the idea of combining Irish and tap.
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 02:15 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-10 02:18:06 edit
tappingangel wrote:

Maybe someone had the idea of combining Irish and tap


I have a similar half-theory (to me, clogging is a bit like tap crossed with line dancing, and a pinch of this and a pinch of that).

Wikipedia wrote:

In the U.S. clogging originates from the Appalachian region and the Ozarks and is associated with the predecessor to bluegrass — "old-time" music, which is based on Irish and Scots-Irish fiddle tunes. Over the years, clogging has developed from aspects of English and Irish step dances, French-Canadian step dance, and tap. It was also heavily influenced by African American dances.


Appalchian region?

Is that in the US, or like, South Mexico or something?

If the latter, that's what I always thought and hence why I'm so confused by the similarity of the dance forms.

If the former, well, that makes a lot of sense. If the ORIGINS of two dance forms are the same, it stands to reason that the two dance forms will have a number of striking similarities.

On a side note, I'm kind of interested to know why and how the old school/traditional/broadway tap is still so prevalent. I think it's slowly on the out (will never die though - especially with things like 42nd St still going, and rightfully so) but will take a long time. Maybe it's the fashions - good for a while, but you've got people who just REFUSE to let go of it...!!! *thinks of 80s shoulder pads*

I do think there's 'good' and 'bad' old school though. The former is nice to look at. The latter tends to just look SO CONTRIVED... "look at me, I have feathers on my butt and a cheesy smile on my face!"
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By dixietessmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1190, member since Fri Mar 26, 2004
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 01:53 PM
Edited by dixietess (88237) on 2008-01-10 13:55:51
Edited by dixietess (88237) on 2008-01-10 13:56:24
Man, i know I need to move to sydney! lol, i have read about your competition and dance experiences glitterfairy since I joined ddn and thought that sounded like such a relief! but unfortunately its not really a realistic opportunity for me.

____

oz_helen wrote:

I think that some people are under the misapprehension that the "traditional" syllabi are the only ones that provide enough of a technical foundation. And this isn't limited to the little old lady studio owners either


oz_helen in regards to what you said above.. I couldnt agree more! However.. the strange thing is, one of the main competitions we attend each year is the Southern Federation of Dance Comps.. now these comps are exclusive to studios who study and are examined in the Southern Federation of Dance Syllabus.

But, you know what, this syllabus isn't truly that traditional style either! Well I suppose it may be closer to that than a more modern street/bootmen style, but its none of that cheesy, showy attitude.. and none of it is to piano music, it's all to upbeat modern music (quite a bit robbie williams from memory actually because my teacher had a rather large obsession with his music and was responsible for a lot of the music updates.. anyway thats irrelevant.. lol).. yeah, so even that doesnt fully make sense.

In regards to that style having a technical foundation, in some aspects i really do agree with that, however that style exclusively will not give you a fully rounded technique. my belief on this comes primarily from my two backgrounds - my syllabus training (which I suppose isnt fully "traditional" but for the purposes of this point it is more traditional that some modern styles) versus the training I did with an ex-tap dogs member..

The first probably.. 5 or 6 years of my tap life was syllabus trained, and then i moved onto a heavier, more rhythmic style. But what i found in this.. was that there isnt nearly as much stress on the basic-basics such as posture, core strength, arm placement, and my pet peeve, staying on the balls of your feet.
Now I understand that these things I have mentioned are not fully within the style of modern day, heavy and rhythmic tapping, but without this background i dont believe this style can be exectuted as well. For example, a turning sequence, whilst it may have casual arms and appear "casual" and "effortless", without the basic core placement that is stressed more in the syllabus stle this would be impossible..

I suppose one can relate it to the ballet world as well, ballet is more of the foundation styles.. and without it most dancers would struggle to perform an amazing contemporary or modern routine in which one fully lets the body go with the music..

anyway.. justmy two cents on that as well.. lol

What do you guys think? what is the best style to teach foundation tap? i suppose there are always amalgamations as well, where you can still teach other styles whilst stressing those basic technique forms.. but just in my experience this is often the easiest to start to produce the best results..

____

on a completely different note.. in regards to the clogging discussion.. I have no clue! lol.. i have heard of it, but never done it myself, nor know nearly enough about it to discuss

____


glitterfairy wrote:

On a side note, I'm kind of interested to know why and how the old school/traditional/broadway tap is still so prevalent. I think it's slowly on the out (will never die though - especially with things like 42nd St still going, and rightfully so) but will take a long time. Maybe it's the fashions - good for a while, but you've got people who just REFUSE to let go of it...!!! *thinks of 80s shoulder pads*

I do think there's 'good' and 'bad' old school though. The former is nice to look at. The latter tends to just look SO CONTRIVED... "look at me, I have feathers on my butt and a cheesy smile on my face!"


I also completly agree with this.. lol, it can be nice to watch! but it needs a smile of pure enjoyment! nearly making fun of the style itself.. lol.. and you dont reeaaalllyyy need the fluffy butts! lol
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:29 PM
dixietess wrote:

The first probably.. 5 or 6 years of my tap life was syllabus trained, and then i moved onto a heavier, more rhythmic style. But what i found in this.. was that there isnt nearly as much stress on the basic-basics such as posture, core strength, arm placement, and my pet peeve, staying on the balls of your feet.
Now I understand that these things I have mentioned are not fully within the style of modern day, heavy and rhythmic tapping, but without this background i dont believe this style can be exectuted as well. For example, a turning sequence, whilst it may have casual arms and appear "casual" and "effortless", without the basic core placement that is stressed more in the syllabus stle this would be impossible..

In my opinion, a lot of the tapdogs-style-training skips the basics because most of the students are already advanced - why go over something when you don't need to? ;)

A lot of the 'contemporary' dancers I have trained with and competed against don't have an extensively 'classical' tap background. Any good teacher can teach you how to spot, etc, although it would take a good tap teacher with good understanding of technique in general to pull this of. Sher Robert's school of Modern Dance is a really good example in NSW, prior to her moving to the UK.

In terms of teaching 'foundation tap', I teach the basics. I prefer to pick the best exercises from whatever syllabi or classes I can recall that work well for whatever I'm teaching.

DEATH TO THE FLUFFY BUTTS!
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Sun Jan 27, 2008 04:02 AM
Hmmm... one day I should post some of my "fluffy butt" pictures. I happen to think my fluffy bum is very cute.

Helen
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Sun Jan 27, 2008 07:06 PM
Oh, I think it can look cute too (especially on little girls), but when it's in the context of a young woman who has been doing the same time of slow tap with the same kind of costume to the same kind of music with the same kind of choreography from about 8-16, then I think it's a bit sad.
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By Ms_Mel Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 20, 2008
On Tue Jan 29, 2008 07:01 AM
OK, so now that I can post... LOL

I think in some form, tap has been around just as long as all other dance styles. I don't mean that people have always had metal taps on their shoes and danced specific steps, but people have always shuffled their feet to the beat of the music.

My opinions on the roots: A lot of what you see in today's hoofing comes from dancers making their feet act as the drums in a jazz band. While tappers can make noise to any kind of music, you often see great rhythms and syncopations similar to that in jazz music. There is always a definite, steady beat, no matter what time signature tappers are using.

I think the showy Broadway-style tap is just high-society's answer to the common folks' dance style. As tap dancing gained popularity, the big-time money-making producers of dance shows had to include it, but it doesn't look "elegant" to have a Rockette in high heels and a fluffy skirt dancing into the floor. That just wasn't "proper" for the upper-class audience. So they adapted it for the high society, and the Broadway, light-style tapping came out in the limelight. I don't have factual proof of that, just what I've heard and been told and how I've watched tap evolve around the world.

Has anyone seen the movie "Drum Line"? In that movie, there's a part where the two snare drummers are battling it out over who is the best, and they have microphones set up at their drum heads. Everything they tap out on the drums gets translated onto sheet music. I'd LOVE to see what that computer program would print out for dancers like the Tap Dawgs.

And as far as fluffy butts go... now that I've had two kids, my butt is forever "fluffy". That's what I call my built-in seat cushion, my Fluffy Butt! LOL
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:38 AM
Tap Dogs or Tap Dawgs? (Sorry, it's just that I know people who have danced in Tap Dogs so just wondering if that was just deliberate 'creative' spelling, or another group)
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By Ms_Mel Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 20, 2008
On Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:53 AM
Oh that was just me and my brain not working. I just read an article about a football team being the "Bull Dawgs" and how parents were upset for the intentional misspelling... and what do I do, came here and completely typed the WRONG spelling!!!

I meant Tap Dogs, I'm sorry my brain was stuck on rewind from reading the newspaper this morning!
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Wed Jan 30, 2008 04:46 AM
LOL it's ok, Freudian slip! I do those all the time.
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By Ms_Mel Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 20, 2008
On Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:18 PM
HEY! I was just looking for a picture of a split sole shoe for the thread about those, and I found CAPEZIO makes a tap sneaker called "TAP DAWG". LOL My slipup is really a SHOE. HA!

Just had to share!
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Fri Feb 01, 2008 02:09 AM
I've taken class with one of the Tap Dogs (Shane - do you know him, glitters?). It was FANTASTIC!
/hijack

Helen
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Fri Feb 01, 2008 02:19 AM
Heard of, but not taken classes from.

My fav Tapdog so far is Ben Read. His 'left-orientated' footing really threw me, and I had to fight really hard to keep up in his classes, but it was great. He's a stickler for tapping in time as opposed to 'gogogo as fast as you can!', and that gets big kudos points in my book.
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Fri Feb 01, 2008 05:01 AM
^ In mine too. Some of the kids I assistant teach seem to think that faster will impress us more, and it drives me nuts trying to get them to slow down and actually be IN TIME.

How widespread IS the 'gogogo as fast as you can!' mentality, Glitter? I can't say I've come across it thus far (which isn't saying much, considering all my experience in memory has been at a single studio, combined with what I've read on here). Is there a trend among competitive tappers, performers, studios, etc that faster = better?
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Fri Feb 01, 2008 03:46 PM
We actually have a 'Fast Tap' tap section over here (alongside 'Slow Tap', 'Waltz Tap', 'Ensemble Tap') so yes, it's certainly a valuable asset, but so is being able to keep in time. I think it's a show-off mentality when being done without being asked to, though ;)
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By Ms_Mel Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 20, 2008
On Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:50 PM
I agree with the "show-off" mentality. There's nothing quite as awesome as a whole group of "fast tap" dancers who are ALL together and ALL in time with the music. But when you have one who is just going and going and not following any particular rhythm or pattern, it looks REALLY obnoxious in my opinion. It's like a drummer who can bang-bang-bang, but has NO idea how to play anything other than bang as fast and hard as he can.
re: *kick* About "roots". What's legit, what's not, is it even worth discussing?
By dixietessmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1190, member since Fri Mar 26, 2004
On Sun Feb 03, 2008 07:30 PM
offtopic: can you believe this thread has actually gotten to 22 replies!! haha.. this board hasnt had that many posts in the last 6 months combined

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