I. Love. Tap! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard dance style, but I just love it so much! Imagine being able to make music with your feet!
Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Choreography for more advice on the craft!
Choreographing tap can be really fun because you get to play not only choreographer, but composer! Check out these tips for choreographing a tap routine.
Know your music.
You need to know your music inside and out. What is the time signature (AKA how many beats in a phrase), are there any tempo changes, any accents that need to be drawn out, what about phrasing, etc. The tapping and the music need to work together to make a masterpiece.
Play with matching rhythms in the song vs just creating your own.
Sometimes all you need to do in a tap routine is just stick with the beat and your performer’s tap music will match their song. And sometimes there’ll be an amazing riff in the song that just needs mimicking in the footwork. Don’t do it all one way or the other, play with it.
Don’t just do tricks.
Yes, pick-ups and slides and toe stands are all super cool and deserve to be featured in tap routines. But just really incredible tapping is super cool, too! You can create an amazing routine using your standard digs, taps, and steps! So don’t feel as though you need to chuck in as many tricks into your tap routine as you can – just dance, too! And please please please don’t put a fouetté turn section into a tap routine.
Play with pauses.
It’s boring to just hear tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa… Are you bored, yet?
An easy way to change up rhythm is to just think of playing with pauses. Tappa-tappa-tap. Pause, pause. Tappa-tappa-tappa. That’s already WAY MORE interesting.
Remember tap dancers have arms, too.
You don’t have to choreograph every little bit of arm for the entire piece – there’s something to be said for looking natural – but at least give your dancer some guidelines along the way. Have a few set arms. Talk about what a “natural” tap dancer arm should look like. Don’t let dancers tap with their arms by their side. Avoid putting your dancer’s arms behind their back if they’re older than 7. You’re a choreographer, there’s a whole other half of the body to deal with.
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Remember, have fun when you’re choreographing! It’s a gift to be able to create something from nothing.
Do you have any other tips for choreographing tap routines?
Enjoy the journey!