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Tap - Advanced
Define traditionalism in tap
By oz_helenmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 11196, member since Sat Aug 10, 2002
On Fri Dec 19, 2008 05:43 AM

How do you define traditionalism in tap?

Is it to do with the steps or the style? Something else entirely? Give examples!


2 Replies to Define traditionalism in tap

re: Define traditionalism in tap
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Fri Dec 19, 2008 05:53 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-12-19 05:55:57
To me, it's the overarching style. A favourite analogy I say to my students is that tap is like a piano - there are x amount of steps. Due to the anatomy of our instrument, there are limitations in the way tap dancers can move, and limitations on what kind of steps we can produce using tap shoes. There are an infinite number of variations, but in terms of base steps... I'd say there are limits (I do not include volume or tone level based on density of tap or tap shoe here).

I personally feel that it's the way in which tap steps are used that can push it either into classical (aka 'traditional'), contemporary, or something else entirely. Just because the piano has a 'history' of being used as a classical instrument does not limit its use for contemporary music - obvious examples are Alicia Keys, Imogen Heap, Evanescence, Maroon 5, Coldplay and Sara Bareilles who are all clearly contemporary artists who use the piano.

Just in the same way piano music is written for opera, blues, folk and rock, tap steps can be used to convey the stylised form of the 40s/50s, something more industrial a la Tap Dogs (who occasionally perform without tap shoes at all - they do entire numbers purely with axle grinders), or something purely auditary where the tap shoes are used as a higher-pitched percussion instrument. In the latter instance the 'tap dance' wouldn't be aesthetic so much as functional.

In all of the above, common steps like 'shuffles' and 'drumbeats' would be used - and yet, the mere use of these does not, and can not in my opinion be used to automatically categorise a genre of tap. Similarly, the use of a chasse or chaine turn (both of which I've used in tap routines) does not automatically categorise my tap routines as ballet routines performed in tap shoes.
re: Define traditionalism in tap
By adageacemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3982, member since Thu Sep 01, 2005
On Fri Dec 19, 2008 06:58 AM
Good question. I think it's predominantly style (almost overwhelmingly so) for me - pretty much as glitters has already covered.

However, I know there are occasionally steps that come and go out of fashion (one example springing to mind being the straight-legged style of flap), and so obviously using these steps is likely to contribute to the overall style. Some steps do kind of lend themselves to certain styles, even if it is possible to dance them in other ways.

But even so, an "old-fashioned" step can be used in a very modern routine, either without standing out or even as a counterpoint. And I'd argue that the vast majority of steps (if not all) can be made to fit whatever look a good dancer wants.