Forum: General / Tap / Tap

What is a "hoofer?"
By Tappercise Comments: 289, member since Sun Jul 08, 2007
On Sun Jul 19, 2009 02:17 PM

I have two questions: (1) How do you define the term “hoofer?” and (2) Is there a difference between being a “hoofer” and being a “new-style tap dancer?”

Here are some of the common definitions for “hoofer” by some well known experts:

Savion Glover: While tap is a dance style; hoofing is a lifestyle. I'm a hoofer because I live and breathe tap dancing. I live the dance every second of every day—whether I'm on-stage, walking down the street, or trying on clothes in a store.

Let’s get it straight. It’s not hip hop tap. It’s not rap tap. It’s hoofing.

Rusty Frank: Tap dancing with no other dance influence.

Mark Knowles: A tap dancer. This usually refers to one who focuses more on the rhythmic percussion of the sounds, rather than one who incorporates upper-body movements.

Al Gilbert: A slang term for “TAPDANCERS.” Most associated with the “close to the floor” style of tap dancing, using mostly footwork and very little body and arm movement.

Tommy Sutton: A tap dancer who dances close to the floor and puts emphasis on Stamp and Stomp accents, executing primarily in one spot….In contrast, a tap dancer executes up on the balls of the feet and more or less covers the state. However, most professional tap dancers combine some hoofing techniques in their routines and choreography.

6 Replies to What is a "hoofer?"

re: What is a "hoofer?"
By tappingangel Comments: 908, member since Sun Apr 27, 2003
On Sun Jul 19, 2009 06:55 PM
Ahhhhhhh I love this question.

Tap dancing has its many forms and styles just like..say, hip-hop. In hip-hop, you have popping; locking; breaking; krumping...the list goes on. This also varies from place to place. East coast hip-hop, when first started, involved mostly breaking; west-coast hip-hop involved mostly popping or locking.

Tap is also this way. Take, for instance, New York tappers versus Los Angeles tappers. New York tends to have a more "lightweight" feel-it's mostly done on the balls of the feet. This is taught in most studios as the basis of tapping, and is known as "Broadway". Here on the west coast, you find this alot as well...but then you get to the street dancers. We tap with a more.."hardcore" feeling, for lack of better terms. We really tap INTO the ground, rather than "on top" of it. This is what's known as "hoofing."

Prime example: Fred Astaire versus Gene Kelly. While Fred taps "on" the floor, if you watch Gene, he taps INTO it.

Hoofing is better explain as being tapped INTO the floor. Also, hoofing doesn't always focus on the use of arms...usually, there's an emphasis on the footwork, rather than the entire body.

Since I lack the wording to REALLY explain hoofing, and when I teach the differences to my tappers, I show them while explaining so that they understand, just run a good search on tap dance history. Most sites will probably have a wonderful explanation written in the history of the different types of tap, and will have hoofing listed.

I hope this helps at least a little bit!! I'm sorry if it doesn't.
re: What is a "hoofer?"
By Tappercise Comments: 289, member since Sun Jul 08, 2007
On Mon Jul 20, 2009 06:29 PM

I really like the way you explain hoofing.

When you talk about “street dancers,” are you talking about tap dancers who perform on the street the same way break dancers or hip-hop dancers perform on the street? What struck me as interesting is that many of the early hoofers started their careers by tap dancing on street corners.

If I remember correctly, Savion Glover did some street dancing in the movie titled “Bamboozled.” He used a portable tap surface of some type and had what looked like bottle caps on the bottom of his shoes instead of taps. I guess bottle caps were better than what he had when he started tap dancing. According to his book titled “Savion,” he took his first tap lessons wearing cowboy boots.
re: What is a "hoofer?"
By tappingangel Comments: 908, member since Sun Apr 27, 2003
On Mon Jul 20, 2009 08:17 PM
Yes, it's exactly like that. Here in L.A. you can walk the streets, and on one corner you'll have the bboys (break dancers is an incorrect term, most people don't know was coined by MTV..the true word given to these dancers is b-boys and b-girls, also stands for "break" boys and "break" girls...oh man enough with the hip-hop history, sorry!! Haha.), and on the next corner you'll have some street tappers (hoofers =]), and then across the street you'll have a group of both. Haha. Savion Glover is a prime example of today's hoofers. Compare him to Fred Astaire, and you'll definately see the difference.
re: What is a "hoofer?"
By tappingangel Comments: 908, member since Sun Apr 27, 2003
On Mon Jul 20, 2009 08:30 PM
Oh, and hey sorry to double post here, but I totally just noticed your second question.

It's debatable-some people will argue until theyre blue in the face that hoofing and "new style" is the same thing but it truly isn't. Hoofing is what I described before, and new style incorporates alot more of the hip-hop flavor, and is usually done to more modern music, stuff you hear in hip-hop classes and on the radio. I hope this helps too!! Lol.
re: What is a "hoofer?"
By Tappercise Comments: 289, member since Sun Jul 08, 2007
On Tue Jul 21, 2009 02:14 PM
I think it’s great that tap dancers are taking it to the streets. If you want to see what people really think about tap dancing, take it to the streets and let the public decide what’s good or bad.

Do hoofers form “crews” and “battle” with others hoofers or with other street dancers? I have always believed that tap dancing has the potential to hold its own against other types of street dancing, and I also believe this is the kind of battle a lot of people would enjoy watching. I enjoyed watching the tap dancers stand up against the Irish dancers in River Dance.
re: What is a "hoofer?"
By tappingangel Comments: 908, member since Sun Apr 27, 2003
On Tue Jul 21, 2009 06:15 PM
Tap dancing has been in the streets for awhile, but in some areas it's less commonly known.

There's alot of times that you see tap dancers battling, just as hip-hop dancers do. I really like watching other battles because there are alot of creative street tappers out there, haha.