Dance Teacher Resources

Tap Teaching Tips from Chloe Arnold

By Deborah Searle

At the recent New York City Dance Alliance I was honored to take part in the teacher classes and discussions. The insights shared, work taught, and exercises given were very valuable. So valuable in fact, that I thought I might share them with you….

Here are some helpful hints from Tap legend Chloe Arnold. Chloe, an icon in tap, has an impressive list of stage and screen credits. Beyonce’s dance double for her Upgrade You film clip, Chloe has recently  featured in the new hit show Imagine Tap, Outkast’s movie Idlewild, and Sean Paul’s music video for the movie Step Up. Currently co-director of the Los Angeles Tap Festival and DC Tap Festival, Chloe has directed short films and independent music videos, and has produced over 20 shows.

Chloe shared many helpful and creative ideas. These are my notes below:

Be creative.
Tap is evolutionary, that’s what’s so fantastic about Tap.  Don’t be afraid to develop new steps and combinations and encourage your students to do so.

Challenge the Syllabus
See how you can be creative with a syllabus to challenge your students. If an exercise has heel toe, heel toe, try doing it toe heel, toe heel. Reverse how you do the step with your feet. Try this with more complex steps and be creative with it. Choreograph warms up with steps from the syllabus backwards, to help the students to think and to reverse steps. Where an exercise would normally have a step heel toe, put in a step stamp heel, and so on. Challenge your students with rhythms.

Expose your students to the many styles of Tap
There are so many different forms of tap dance now. Why can’t you mix up all the different styles and embrace them in your classes? All the varieties of Tap that have evolved are valid and your students should be exposed to them, as they could audition for a production and be a fabulous tapper, but struggle if the style they are given is foreign to them.

Educate your students on the History of Tap Dance
Be passionate about the history of Tap and tell your students about it. Tap in the jazz era was what hip hop and street dance is today. It was breaking the boundaries and was the street dance of past eras. Tap is creative. It’s not something that birthed out of the studios. It’s edgy and students need to realise the history of the dance form to really embrace what tap is about.

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