Stories

New Victory Arts Break – Tap Dance Week

Welcome to the third month of New Victory Arts Break—it’s Week 10! Guided by New Victory Teaching Artists, Arts Break is a curriculum designed for the millions of families stuck at home to incorporate the performing arts into their learning. Show or no show, our nonprofit is committed to bringing the performing arts to the widest possible audience, and inspiring you to make art, and make memories, together!

We hope you haven’t had your fill of sound after last week’s foray into foley, because this week is all about tap dance. Shuffle and flap your way from basic rhythms and steps to more complex choreo in homemade tap shoes—just don’t make too much noise.

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Monday

Change into Tap Shoes

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 11

Tap dancing is an American art form born in the melting pot of New York City! It evolved from the rhythmic dances of the many cultures that mixed in New York during the 19th century—African ceremonial dances and African American Juba, Irish jigs and English clogging. Take a few minutes to learn more about the history of tap in this video from Vox.

The most recent tap shoes to clickety-clack across the New Victory stage were in Velocity (New Victory 2018) from Ireland’s James Devine and David Geaney. Velocity charted the history of Irish stepdance and its influence on tap, through to some very modern and fast-footed interpretations.

Are you ready to get tapping? The distinctive sound of tap dancing comes from two metal taps attached to the sole of the tap shoe at the ball and heel. Follow along with New Victory Teaching Artist Patrick Ferreri as he shows you how to fashion basic tap shoes using materials you have at home.

Here are instructions for shoes like Patrick’s made with just a few pennies. Keep in mind that even homemade tap shoes on tiny feet can scuff or damage wood floors, so exercise caution and scout out other types of flooring around your home that might be sturdier. The sidewalk is also an option!

Materials: Shoes, pennies, tape

Step One: Tear off four strips of tape and stick a row of pennies onto the sticky side of each one.

Step Two: Attach the strips of pennies to the soles of your shoes—one strip on the ball and another on the heel. You might need to adjust the number of coins depending on the size of your shoe.

Tape pennies to your shoes!

Modification for dedicated tappers: Do you have an old pair of shoes you were about to get rid of? Glue the pennies to the bottom for a more permanent pair of tap shoes!

Now it’s time to put your new tap shoes to the test! Practice the toe taps and heel digs that Patrick demonstrated above. For a more in-depth look at two similar steps, check out this video from Australian tap dancer Bill Simpson’s Just Tap! series. Then, show off your shoes! Erica, our Associate Director of Education, has already put her penny tap shoes to the test.

Tag us @newvictorytheater when you post photos or videos of your tap shoes to Instagram—we’d love to see what you create.

Tuesday

Tapping Out a Rhythm

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 12

The musicality in tap is unlike any other form of dance! Today, we’ll practice different rhythms in our hands and bodies to get ready to imitate them in our feet. First, let’s get inspired by the energy and rhythm of Feet Don’t Fail Me Now (New Victory 2013) from the hoofers of Rhythmic Circus.

The music in Feet Don’t Fail Me Now ranged from 70s-style funk to beatbox to big band Sousa-style marches. What’s your favorite style of music? In this activity, find the beat in some of your favorite tunes.

Step One: Each person in your family should choose a song they like to listen to. If you have a favorite playlist, put it on!

Step Two: Play the first song and see if everyone can clap along to the beat.

Step Three: Play the second song and see if everyone can stomp their feet or walk to the beat.

Step Four: Finally, listen to the third song and use your whole body to keep the beat. Experiment with different body parts, or try drumming out the beat on your couch or counters.

Create the Beat

Now that you have explored hearing the beat in familiar songs, it’s time to create your own funky family rhythms!

Step One: Pick a number from 1 to 5. Once you have it, clap out your number in a particular pattern. For example, if you chose the number 3, you could create a three-beat pattern like this: clap, pause, clap, clap.

Step Two: With that same number, put your rhythm into something other than your hands. Try:

  • Your feet
  • Your shoulders
  • Your hips
  • Your eyes

Step Three: Have your family repeat the rhythm back to you. See how many times you can pass the rhythm back and forth using as many body parts as possible. How fast can you do it?

Step Four: Build on your rhythm! Keep your rhythm steady by stomping your feet. Have another member of your family create a corresponding rhythm by clapping their hands. Work together to find rhythms that complement your feet stomping. Here’s New Victory Education’s Mia Sommese demonstrating a few stomp-clap combos. Practice by matching Mia’s rhythms.

Step Five: One by one, have family members add additional rhythms on top of the two that you’ve established. They can use their hands, feet or an entirely new body part. HINT: A belly makes a good bass drum.

BONUS: Try to speed up and slow down your rhythms in unison, or try moving around the room while keeping the beat.

Can you perform these rhythms with the tap shoes you crafted yesterday? Share your rhythms with us on Instagram @newvictorytheater—we’d love to feature you in our story.

Wednesday

Step by Step

30 – 35 minutes, Ages 6 – 12

Tap may seem like it’s all about the footwork, but like all dance, you need to use your whole body to truly master these moves! Follow along with New Victory Education’s Siobhan Pellot as she gets warmed up from head to toe.

Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time to learn some basic tap steps—stomp, step, shuffle, flap! Lace up your tap shoes and get ready to dance with New Victory Education’s Nicole Wong.

Let’s add one more step to your repertoire today—the hop! A hop can involve both feet or just one foot.

hop!

With the hop added, you’ve now got seven steps under your belt. Start by practicing them one at a time.

Heel, Toe, Step, Stomp, Shuffle, Flap, Hop

Once you’re comfortable with these individual steps, you can start to string them together into short combinations. Can you tap along with Mia’s feet below?

Combination #1: Toe, Heel, Toe, Heel
Combination #1: Toe, Heel, Toe, Heel
Combination #2: Shuffle, Step, Shuffle, Step
Combination #2: Shuffle, Step, Shuffle, Step
Combination #3: Shuffle, Hop, Step, Shuffle, Hop, Step
Combination #3: Shuffle, Hop, Step, Shuffle, Hop, Step

Are you a shuffle champion? A flap-master? A number-one hopper? Show off your tap skills on Instagram and we’ll feature you on our story—just tag us @newvictorytheater.

Thursday

Choreo-tapping

30 – 35 minutes, Ages 7 – 12

Another day, another warm-up! Today you’ll be learning a tap dance sequence and continuing to combine moves into sequences of your own. But first, let’s loosen up with a dancing game. Gather your family and clear a space—it’s time to move across the floor.

Materials: Tape, music

Step One: Tape a line on the floor at one end of the room and another line at the other end. Make sure there’s enough space between the lines to take at least four big steps.

Step Two: Have everyone line up behind the line at one end of the room. You’ll each take a turn moving from one line to the other. Put on a fun song that makes you want to get up and dance, or try this album by The Sunshine Crew:

Step Three: Get movin’! Try the following movements, one at a time, as you move across the floor. Can you:

  • Step slide?
  • Do the crabwalk?
  • Move in super slow motion?
  • Do jumping jacks?
  • Kick one foot at a time?
  • Walk across on tip toes?
  • Walk across squatting?
  • Walk like a robot?
  • Dance like a dog?
  • Hop like a bunny? On one foot?
  • Free dance across the floor?

Step Four: Pick a few of your favorite moves and combine them into a sequence as you move across the floor. Can people in your family perform your sequence? Can you perform theirs?

Now that you’re warmed up, it’s time to slip your tap shoes back on and learn a dance! Follow along as Nicole instructs you in a short routine using the tap moves she taught yesterday.

How did you do? Are you ready to create your own tap dance sequences? In this activity, you’ll stitch yesterday’s steps together into sequences and set them to a personal soundtrack.

Materials: Printable dance step cards, or pencil and paper to create your own; scissors

Step One: Print out these dance step cards or use them as inspiration for cards of your own design. Cut them out and stack them like a deck of cards. A few copies of each card will lead to more interesting combinations!

Step Two: Practice the moves one at a time. Go back to Wednesday’s video if you need a refresher.

Step Three: Now use the cards to create your own dance! Start by plucking three cards from your deck at random. Put them in any order you’d like and try to perform those moves together. Continue adding, subtracting, repeating and rearranging the cards until you come up with a combination you like.

Step Four: Once you’ve practiced a combination, try setting it to music that makes you want to dance and that captures your personality. You could also set your dance to a narrated story or poem like Ayodele Casel did in While I Have the Floor (Victory Dance 2018).

Looking for combination inspiration? Check out this trailer for Untapped! (New Victory 2016) and see if there are any steps or sequences that you recognize or might like to attempt!

We want to see your happy tapping feet! Tag us @newvictorytheater on Instagram, and we’ll share your photo or video on our story.

Friday

Finale Friday

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 13

What a week of tapping feet! All we need for a fabulous Friday finish is a fantastic finale. Fortunately, New Victory Teaching Artist Olney Edmondson is ready with a classic bit of tap choreography—the time step. Watch and learn.

We love a big finale in show business—it’s a payoff for the grand performance that’s preceded it! Are you ready to give your grandest performance yet? Let’s take some inspiration from Michelle Dorrance (Victory Dance 2014), who’s short but powerful performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is packed with personality. Pay special attention to how it ends—it might not be the finale you expect.

We’ve tapped into so much this week (pun intended). Now is the time to hit the stage and leave it all on the floor. Your big moment. Your time to shine… those shoes, because you want to look like a professional, after all. Give it all you’ve got in this final Tap Week activity.

Step One: Pick a song you want to dance to. Perhaps it’s a song you’ve been dancing to all week, or one of your old favorites. Remember how much music your tap dancing will add to your song, too!

Step Two: Practice your choreography! Maybe you’re still working on Nicole’s combination from Wednesday, or perhaps you’ve created something super original. Maybe you want to go out with a time step bang, or maybe you have a vision for your own grand finale. Get as many people in your family involved as you can! When rehearsing your dance, think about:

  • Entrances: How do you want to enter the stage? Is there an opening pose you want to strike? Do other dancers come on one at a time or all at once?
  • Style and Character: Every dancer has their own flair! How are you going to really sell your dance? What about you as a dancer is special? Do you have any dance skills in particular that you want to show off? A fun costume you’d like to wear?
  • Formations: Where is everyone standing in the room while performing? Can the audience see all the dancers clearly? Do you change formations during the choreography itself? A formation change within your routine will wow your audience!
  • Ending: Think about your grand finale, your final pose and your exit. Each deserves careful consideration if you want your audience on their feet cheering!

Step Three: Perform your tap routine! Record it and share it with us, and we’ll feature you in our Instagram story—just tag @newvictorytheater when you post it. New Victory fans Abby and Emma have already submitted a video of their tap routine! Take a look.

As we say ta-ta to tap, we’d like to leave you with one final bit of inspiration from the 2018 Olivier Awards, featuring a performance by the London revival cast of a musical very close to our hearts. Keep working on your dancing feet. We’ll see you on 42nd Street!

We hope you enjoyed this tenth week of New Victory Arts Break. Check out past Arts Breaks here, and keep coming back for more arts-based fun in the weeks ahead.

You are a part of the New Victory community. We want to see you, and hear from you! Show us how you’re using New Victory Arts Break at home and share your creative work with us—tag us on Instagram @newvictorytheater.

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