How to Choreograph a Tap Dancing Routine

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Tap dance choreography is unique in that it brings its own sound to any song. You want to take into the instrument effect of the dance steps as well as what the steps bring to a story and meaning of a song. Here are a few simple steps in getting to the core of how great tap dance choreography can be done.

Things You'll Need

  • Tap shoes
  • Favorite music for tap dancing (jazz is suggested)
  • Notebook for tap choreography
  • Pick your song. You'll want to listen to your top choices several times in a row. Keep in mind that tap dancing bring its own sort of percussion, and that should be taken into consideration before any options are narrowed.

  • Pick a notebook just for your tap dancing choreography. Write down ideas, thought patterns, interpretations of songs and tap dance steps you really want to incorporate into the routine.

  • Listen to the song over and over again. You can even listen to your song as you watch a muted visual on screen. Listen to your song against the backdrop to some great tap dancing scenes of cinema. Some great ones to check out are the tap dancing scene with Gene Kelly in Xanada entitled "Whenever I'm Away From You" or the great routines in "The Cotton Club." Be careful in doing this, as you definitely don't want to imitate or copy another's routine. You simply want to see how the greats do it.

  • Add the sound of taps to the song, and get an idea of where you want to make certain repetitions. Make notes of possibilities. Figure out what the story of the song means to you, and get a clear focus of what you want to add to the story of the song by your dance. All of this written clearly will give you an outline for your choreography.

  • Put on those tap shoes, and start dancing. Tap to the beats of the song, and tap to where you have notated you want to accentuate with your own soundtrack of taps. Experiment on your feet, making sure to write down any particular inspiration and what worked.

  • Mix and match all the tap steps that you discovered while on your feet, along with the ones you jotted down as liking from your observation and planning. Narrow down which ones you want to keep in the routine, and number them for easy organization and saving time within the choreography.

  • Put it all together. By numbering and organizing all the moves in a great pattern that tells the story of the song, you have completed your tap dance choreography. Now, you have to put it in motion.

  • Rehearse your moves. During this time, you can do some tweaking. Adding and eliminating is common during the rehearsal stage. If something doesn't work, don't force it. If you get a better idea, put it in place. Be careful to not get too obsessed with a perfect routine. You've made your choices, and, aside from a few alterations here and there, you want to focus on practicing the choreography you've chosen.

  • Share your accomplishment. You've now choreographed a tap dance routine. It's time to celebrate by sharing. Whether finding a local talent show or simply having it taped for YouTube where you can sharing it with family and friends, you should showcase the work and experience of teaching yourself choreography.

Tips & Warnings

  • Allow for some flexibility in choreography according to excellence of some dancers and limitations of others.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments in tap dancing. There is now a National Tap Dance Day in the United States that is celebrated every year on May 25. It was signed into law on November 7, 1989, and that makes tap dancing an official national pastime.
  • Never allow yourself to get frustrated at dancers trying to do your choreography. Sometimes tap dancing can be challenging for a dancer. Simply look at ways around a block or problem step.
  • Don't let yourself focus on the perfection of your dance. It should be about telling the story of the song.

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