A Tap in Time

Posted in Music, Tap dancing at 8:41 am by Marion

Today, a simple report from the dance studio.

After a three-week break, I returned to tap class last night. It’s a late class, starting at 7:45 p.m., which can feel like midnight. I’m thinking it will be a rough 45-minutes, that I will be clumsy and uncoordinated.

Somehow, during the past three weeks, something came together upstairs, quietly and without any effort from me. This new understanding was transmitted from my brain through to my legs and feet. And somehow, I was completing steps that were impossible a month ago!

I did “pull backs” across the studio … jumping moves done on both feet, backward, that should make a crisp tap. For me, performing the step turns into a struggle to avoid falling over, while sliding my feet sloppily backward.

Somehow last night the tap-slaps were there throughout the length of the 30-foot studio. (I ignored the full-length mirror which might have shown a slightly teetering woman leaping strangely across the room.)

Next we did a simple drawback step, which after months of flummoxation, has become almost second nature … so we worked on a drawback cross-step. Drawbacks also move backwards, and this variation takes one foot and crosses it over the other, while stepping backward. And brushing the toe … and tapping the heel.

We started at the barre … I fumbled … then, in a breakthrough, I did the step a few times. I moved away from the barre, and stumbled through it before getting it right a few times. Now I have something to work on for the week.

Last we turned to the “time step.” There are several time steps, which are often inserted into dance routines, like tiny compact dance firecrackers, which really turn up the complexity of a dance. These steps require you to shift weight from foot to food without taking steps … or, in some cases, you take steps without shifting your weight. It’s just as complicated as it sounds!!

Well, I seem to have one of the time steps now … my instructor repeated it rapidly several times for me, so I could hear the true rhythm of the step and now the task at hand (foot?) is to carry out the step while tapping the authentic rhythm.

Because in the end, no matter what you do with your feet, tap dancing is an art form dedicated to making delightfully entertaining, and even funny, sounds with those metal clappers. When it sounds right, you’re really tapping.

Like everything else, there’s got to me music in it.

1 Comment

  1. Gene-o said,

    January 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Congratulations! How happy to hear that your perseverance (and the holiday break) is paying off. Sometimes it’s just that type of interruption that allows the brain to work through the complexities of a task. They say that your brain keeps working even after you’ve stepped away from a jigsaw puzzle, which is why you’re able to work several pieces quickly when you come back to it. Maybe the same kind of thing happened with your tapping. Certainly that happens when a story or novel breaks down; you step away from it for a while, and then you come back to it with fresh eyes and productive fingers.