Tap Dance Steps

Tap dance shoes

Firstly, before you even take your very first Tap dance steps, think about your posture.

The first, big, basic rule in Tap dance steps is to keep your knees relaxed and 'soft'.

Never tap with a straight leg.

Doing this can threaten injury and besides, tapping on a slightly softer leg gives a far better tone of tap.

Also, keep your weight more on the balls of your feet. Got all that?

OK, so now try to walk by putting the ball of your foot down first, then the heel.

You'll hear your teacher say "toe-heel, toe-heel".

'Toe' usually means the whole ball of the foot in any dancing where tapping is involved, but it is particularly true of Tap dance steps.

Now try the other way, heel-toe, heel-toe.

Bounce these steps slightly for better tone and feel.

Keep It Simple

As mentioned, don't expect a massive fitness benefit from your first few classes.

You really are only using your ankles and knees at this stage.

It's going to be a while before you are spinning around the floor like Fred and Ginger and getting your heart rate up a bit. Concentrate on your timing and technique instead.

And, very important, focus on your balance. This should come naturally if you've got your posture right.

But it is always surprising that we suddenly forget how to do something very simple, like walking, when we have to do it very slowly.

You will probably find that, in your very first beginners class, when the teacher has everybody walking around the studio very slowly doing toe-heel Taps, that you will be raising your arms slightly out to your sides, in order to keep your balance. Almost as though you are on a tightrope.

Don't worry about wobbling a bit when you first start doing the toe-heel movement. Everybody else will be too. Just keep practising.

Best tip
Keep your head up rather than looking at your feet.  It's often putting your head down and looking at your feet that throws you off balance. 

Perhaps try our famous Posture Exercise for the perfect dance posture.

The Basics

Tap Shoes

Ready to try some basic Tap dancing steps?

First up is the Shuffle ("your greatest friend in tap").

You are only going to tap with your toe for this.

Your working leg (as it is in most dances) is the leg that is going to execute the step.

Your other leg (the supporting leg) is the one that will bear your weight during the step.

* So, lift your working leg slightly off the floor.

* Bring it forward quickly, tapping your toe on the floor.

* Then bring it back to the starting position, tapping the toe in the same place as your foot moves backwards.

One tap each way. The heel of the working leg should not touch the floor at any point.

Got that?

As mentioned in the Clothes and Shoes section, sneakers would be making agonizing squeaking noises at this point so really aren't a good idea. Your Tap dance steps should sound loud and clean when your foot strikes the floor.


By the time you get to practise a few toe–heels followed by a shuffle or two woven into a short routine by your teacher, you'll start to really hear the sound of the Taps in unison with the rest of your class mates.

It truly is one of the most exciting noises you'll ever hear.

Yes, you'll need to get the right shoes to Tap dance properly.

And yes, you'll need to practise often if you are going to master the rhythm and the basic Tap dance steps – enough for you to dance a routine at a reasonable speed.

But is it worth it? YES. It's a dance style that you'll love dancing and will get huge enjoyment out of.

Give it a go. You'll be very glad you did.

If you've read each Tap dancing section in turn, you'll now have enough tips and hints to join your local class with confidence.  Good luck and enjoy your dancing.

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