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Tap - Advanced
What is it about toe stands?
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:58 AM

Thought I'd ask this on here because I'd like advanced tappers' opinions on it.

Since I've been on the tap board, I've seen countless posts about doing toe stands, how to do them, how to improve them, what shoes you can do them in, etc etc.

And here's what I don't get - I have only ONCE seen them done in a pro tap routine (Savion Glover), and I didn't think it added to the tapping or the dance in general. I was pretty much underwhelmed by the inclusion, whereas I loved the rest of the routine. I've also never seen them done by students in my area.

I don't see the fascination. What is it that seems to make people so desperate to do this step?

Is it the novelty of it being a trick? Is it a trick? Is it the fact that you're up there on the tips of your toes? Does it have any real stylistic impact?

Am I just being a sheltered tapper, revealing my ignorance of tap performance? Am I showing myself up to be a fluffy-butt? ;)

17 Replies to What is it about toe stands?

re: What is it about toe stands?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Wed Feb 13, 2008 04:54 AM
I have rarely done toe stands in routines, although Steven McRae uses them well.

I think the 'desperation' is a) a ballet influence ("hey look! I'm on my toes!") and b) teaching style. My teachers preferred to use tap shoes for making sounds, so that's the way I tap. I can pull off toe stands just fine, but would prefer to keep the patter beat (and toe stands kind of break that up).
re: What is it about toe stands?
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Wed Feb 13, 2008 05:23 AM
Phew, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels (and has been taught) that way ;)

Funny you should mention the influence of ballet, though - maybe it's because I'm on pointe that being "on my toes" doesn't really hold any novelty for me? I can do it in pointe shoes, and do a lot more with it, too - why would I want to do it in tap shoes as well? That's just me, though.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Wed Feb 13, 2008 05:52 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-02-13 05:52:18 edit
I think it's just that 'ballet thing'. I reason it out that way because the same thing happens with jazz sneakers ;) I think all little girls have dreams of being 'on their toes' and some grow up determined to make it happen one way or the other, lol!
re: What is it about toe stands?
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Wed Feb 13, 2008 09:27 AM
Lol, you could be right there... the younger ones at my studio would be trying to go up in ballet slippers if you didn't stop them!
re: What is it about toe stands?
By OddSockPremium member Comments: 795, member since Tue Dec 20, 2005
On Wed Feb 13, 2008 05:49 PM
I actually don't like toe stands that much... I can do them, but I'd rather not. I like doing more rhythm work.

My studio at home didn't really use them a whole lot, but I saw them from other studios at competitions. Even toe stand-chainé turns...yikes. I have done them in a few pieces since I've been in college, but they're still rhythmic at the same time. We've done sliding-type toe stands, or hitting the toe stand really quick and coming back down.

I think a lot of people like them because they of the way they look...but I'm more concerned with what sounds good. :)
re: What is it about toe stands?
By Ms_Mel Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 20, 2008
On Wed Feb 13, 2008 08:45 PM
I can do just about any kind of toe stand you can imagine. I even have done single toe stand wings changing feet before (not fun, it was a dare). I think it's one of those "flashy" things that people see and think, Ooooh, that must be SO hard, if I can do that, maybe I'll be as good as so-and-so. Gregg Russel talks about Toe Stands in one of his DVDs and how big they look, and the audience does the oooh and aaaahhhhs over them.

In an advanced routine I am in the middle of choreographing right now, I have the students do a toe stand combination when the music called for BIG accents on the downbeats. It's toe stand, down to center, heel stand with feet wide, back to center, toe stand, center, heel stand, center, jump split and pull back up. The only reason I have them doing those are because of how the music is, not because they are the envy of anyone. Most of the time, the students ask if they can mark the toe stands anyway. Immediately following their recovery, they go into a 16th count riff combination that, in MY opinion, is MORE flashy and much, much more technical than a toe stand any day.

Good question, though, and it's started some discussion other than about the mechanics of the toe stand.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Thu Feb 14, 2008 02:52 AM
I only ever use toe-stands in the context of a cramp-roll variation: toe toe ball ball, instead of ball ball heel heel. Oh, and once I choreographed a jump onto both toes in the middle of a dance, which was held for a few counts, but rhythmically it worked. Actually, in hindsight, only two of the girls could do it, the rest cheated and just did it on the balls of their feet. This was in a funk-tap routine.

I didn't realise they were that commonly used and it was very strange to see so many threads about them.

Helen
re: What is it about toe stands?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Thu Feb 14, 2008 03:10 AM
oz_helen wrote:

I only ever use toe-stands in the context of a cramp-roll variation: toe toe ball ball, instead of ball ball heel heel.

Oh! Me too, me too! Can't remember what it's called in my syllabi.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By tappingangel Comments: 908, member since Sun Apr 27, 2003
On Sat Feb 16, 2008 03:59 AM
I know my girls always struggle with this step (..surprisingly, my boys never had a problem...) so I try to stray away from teaching it. I have before though..I used it in a rhythm tap routine. I had them doing toe-stand changes (one foot, then the next, switching back and forth..ahhh..something I'd rather show than describe). They loved it, and it worked well. Otherwise, I don't particularly care for teaching them. I also agree that the step is like, "LOOK I can stand on my toes!!" like in ballet.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16604, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Sat Feb 16, 2008 06:27 AM
I have done toe stands a lot in routines and when I was in a tap company. I have also seen a lot of professionals do them. I teach them and very few of my students have problems doing them.

I don't use them a lot in choreography, but I use them occasionally as a fun trick to spice up a routine if it fits the music. I have seen some really bad choreography that uses it way too much or at really odd times in music too. What I don't get is doing wings on your toes. I have judged countless tap numbers where people do wings on their toes (both feet starting and landing on their toes) and in my opinion there is no graceful or smooth way to get into or out of that trick.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Sat Feb 16, 2008 08:31 PM
^ I've actually never seen that done outside of American tap videos. It's very much a 'trick' to me... worst example I ever saw was when it was actually one of the more substantial tap movements in someone's tap routine (floorwork? In a tap routine? Makes you wonder what they're trying to cover up).
re: What is it about toe stands?
By Ms_Mel Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 20, 2008
On Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:33 PM
I watched a horrible display of toe stands at a competition today. A group of 11-12 year old tappers attempted toe stand wings in their routine. Out of maybe 8 girls, ONE did them, the rest spent more time trying to get IN a toe stand. It looked absolutely dreadful!

I wasn't impressed with a lot of the tap I saw today, hopefully tomorrow will be better. I'm bound to see at least two more groups or soloists doing toe stands, though.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Sun Feb 17, 2008 02:51 AM
You know, there was a comment somewhere about "It's not ballet unless it has fouettés" - I think that was it, referring to the number of competition dances which insist on stuffing fouettés into their routines, even if they're done sloppily. Reading ms_mel's comments, makes me think that toe stands are tap's fouettés, when it comes to certain competition teams! :D

And glitter - floorwork... I do know a girl who choreographed a routine that started on the floor. But it did fit with the music's intro, and she was up on her feet by the time the real rhythm of the music set in. And the entire rest of the routine was some very substantial tap! Our SO wouldn't have let it through otherwise.

Wow, just managed to hijack my own thread....
re: What is it about toe stands?
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Sun Feb 17, 2008 03:58 AM
It's ok. Hijacking is the culture in this forum, I think ;)

I just remember this one 'Hall of Fame' tap solo. I kid you not, it was a jazz dancer with no tap training. She did some shuffles and those wing things - the rest were kicks and leaps and floorwork and spins. The audience loved it.

Things like that just make me angry.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Mon Feb 18, 2008 01:32 AM
^Things like that drive me insane. It's not a tap routine unless it's at least 95% tapping.

In my old syllabus, the dances were choreographed by the teachers, but were to set rhythms or had to contain specific set technique. There was a wing routine set for several of the grades and the rule was it must be 75% wings. Many teachers tried to get away with doing one wing in every 8 counts, but the students were penalised and the teachers put on notice. I think my routine was about 90% wings! There should be a similar rule that states a tap routine must be at least a certain percentage of actual tap steps to be eligible for the section.

Helen
re: What is it about toe stands?
By DancerTonitePremium member Comments: 518, member since Mon Aug 22, 2005
On Wed Feb 27, 2008 01:58 PM
We do toe pickups in a routine I am in now - and I think that they are absolutely rhythmic and don't break up the tap flow at all. They are brush brush toe toe ball ball, all in the same time as a regular pickup (brush brush ball ball). And I definately never thought of them as a trick - they are in our syllabus and part of what every class learns on the way up.

I can see where wings on the toes would not be graceful - those I definately think of as a trick.
re: What is it about toe stands?
By LilDancerGalmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 269, member since Sat Jan 24, 2004
On Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:59 PM
I think it's also comes a lot from the style.
Toe stands tend to be more "funk".
Personally, I hate them, but I have to do them in my solo.
They do add flash, especially for dances competing in the main stream dance competitions, because there is rarely a judge trained it tap. So they see a well executed toe stand and see it as a difficult "trick". But I think they are also a small part of the funk style.

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