We here at DanceWear Corner understand the unique history that goes into each style of dance. This is why we wanted to shine a spotlight on different dance styles and their history. This month we thought we would take a look at the unique and beautiful dance form of tap by walking you through a short history of the dance style along with a brief history of the evolution of the shoes.
The Brief History of Tap Dancing
In the United States, tap dancing got its start in the early 19th century. The fundamental components of tap started when slave owners took away traditional African percussion instruments and the slaves started to use percussive dancing to express themselves and their culture. When this style of dance connected with clog dancing from the British Isles, we had a rudimentary version of tap dancing with its unique form of movement and rhythm.
In the 20th Century, Tap became an important feature of popular Vaudeville variety shows. Tap was also a major part of the rich creative output of the Harlem Renaissance. During this time tap dancers began collaborating with jazz musicians. With this, they started incorporating improvisation and complex rhythms into their movement. From the 1930s to the 1950s, tap dancing sequences became a staple of movies and television shows. Tap dancing was also the first street dancing. In the 1930s tap was what we think of breakdancing is today. In major cities, a person could go to a street corner and watch or learn tap from the people who were there dancing. Tap’s popularity started to decline in the second half of the century but was reinvigorated in the 1980’s thanks to Broadway shows like 42nd Street. Tap still has the community aspect that it had back in the 1930s and this is one of the reasons we love tap.
Evolution Of The Shoe
Early tap shoes were made with wooden soles and sometimes they had pennies attached to the heel and toe. Tap gained popularity after the Civil War as a part of traveling shows where this rudimentary dance form was featured. In the 20th Century, metal plates on the heel and toe of the shoes called taps became widely used. The tap shoe of the 20th Century has not really changed as the components of the shoe are all there. What has changed is the type of leather that the shoes are made up of and the different styles of tap shoes a dancer can get. These shoes now come in a lace up version as well as a Mary Jane version and a character shoe version. These shoes also now come in the traditional; black color as well as a tan or caramel color. If you want to take a closer look at these dance shoes visit us here.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about this beautiful form of expression and the shoes that help dancers perform their best. Remember that dancing is all about the community and tap is one of the best examples of communities working together to create something truly magical.