3 Beat Roll

This week I was a bit spaced out at tap class, despite having had over an hour to chill out and forget about work. I think I was just really tired! We had open windows this week (yay!) as the building work has progressed so that the wall is no longer covered in plastic sheeting.

We worked on a backward travelling exercise using pickups, where we did 3 alternating heel-drops in between each. A good tip is to sit back so that the weight is on your back foot, otherwise it complicates matters in terms of travelling. It was quite challenging with a faster piece of music, but with more practice time, it’ll be easier… I hope!

We also went over our 3-beat cramp roll with a fun exercise to Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk.

Here’s a video of my quick practice (during a break at work, in heels!) of the 3-beat cramp roll that we are using in our routine. It has another name, but I keep forgetting what that is!

 

 

I’ve seen on social media that booking is open for the London Tap Dance Intensive, which takes place over 3 days at the end of July, using 3 different venues (Base, Danceworks and Pineapple Studios) with an amazing faculty line-up, plus Brighton Tap Festival is also advertising at the moment. I really don’t want to overdo it this year because I’m trying to get my soap business side gig back on track and will be doing a couple of local summer fairs, plus I already went to the amazing Tap Festival UK at the start of the year. I could also do with cutting back a bit on my spending, so I will probably do one day at the London Tap Dance Intensive and let Brighton be because I have been before and it involves a bit more travel. Or, I allow LTDI (and the modern phenomenon of FOMO) and go to Brighton as it’s during my summer holiday fortnight. These events are great for cementing what you’ve been learning in regular classes and also give you new skills and steps. I dunno, I’ll keep you posted!

Happy weekend whatever you’re up to! โ˜€๏ธ

Home Dance Studio

During my week off work I finally got to set up my home dance studio/gym in the garage! Now I have somewhere to practise tap dance ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

It is a great space because the people who owned the house before had installed electricity for lights and heating, plus a proper door from the garden and a window, which brings natural light. There is also plenty of light from the transparent roof.

The studio is comprised of the following:

  • Interlocking foam floor tiles (wood effect)
  • 3 over-the-door mirrors (around ยฃ14 each from The Range)
  • Cube unit for storing dumbbells etc
  • Foldaway ballet barre
  • Tap board
  • Motivational posters
  • Plants

I had attached some red ‘Dance’ lettering to the wall above the mirrors, but it fell down and broke overnight, so I need to find a way fix it and try to attach it more securely.

The next task is to get rid of the rest of the furniture sitting at the other end of the garage!

I’m so pleased with it because I was getting kind of frustrated with having nowhere to practise other than in the corridors and toilets at work. Yay!

Has anyone done anything similar?

Catch Up

Happy Easter!

On Thursday we had a catch up tap class, as the final class of term was cancelled. My colleagues were going to be in a board meeting when I’d be due back from the class so I wasn’t too worried about rushing back this time ๐Ÿ™‚

There were 5 of us this time plus our teacher and we had a really nice, laid back class! (Made me think twice about returning to the busy evening slot after Easter ๐Ÿ˜ญ)

We learnt a really cool timestep which reminds me a bit of the Shim Sham, although I think the only similarity is the pickups…but still! We did this on the right side and the left to the music from The Pink Panther. Our teacher was just going to leave us with the one side and move on to our routine, but we wanted more! Yes, we were very demanding this week.

Then we went on to finish off the routine we’d been learning over the 5 weeks to George Ezra’s What You Waiting For’. Despite missing 2 weeks out of the 5, I remembered the start and picked up the rest pretty well! This didn’t happen last year when I was stressed out of my mind, sleep deprived by noisy neighbours and topped up on caffeine! I’m really noticing the difference in memory recall and brain power since moving house.

Afterwards we hung around and chatted for a while. There was debate over whether a certain step was the Manhattan or the Cincinnati. Tap is quite fluid and not as formal as ballet, so different people call steps different things! Helpful, right?

I filled our teacher in on MOVE IT 2018 and the Stomp and Syncopated Ladies workshops and she was asking which tap people were there etc, i.e. Tap Attack, London Tap Jam etc. There is a quite a big tap scene and lots of people know each other or know of each other. Turns out she had once auditioned for Stomp!

One of the girls was talking about going to see The Tap Pack at the Peacock Theatre in London in May. I’ve had this on my radar, but I’m taking my mum to see 42nd Street in May and my SO and I hope to visit the London Tap Jam in Hoxton at the end of May, so I think I’ll have to give it a miss!

Anyway, we were chatting away when I suddenly realised I needed to GET BACK TO WORK! Oops. The rest of the group tend to stay on for a practice time that two class members had arranged, or don’t need to be anywhere immediately after the class, so no one else was in a hurry to leave…

Anyway, my work colleagues were in a meeting when I got back to my desk about 15 minutes later than usual so I didn’t feel like anyone was clock watching when I returned (not that they really do) and had my shower. (Anyway, I usually make up the time by staying late either that day or the day before).

Enjoy the long Easter weekend (if you have one) and remember to stretch!

Love this!

Squeezed

Today I was back to the lunchtime tap class which I used to prefer for being smaller and calmer, but find I am increasingly stressed out by squeezing it all in during my (extended) lunch hour (changing, walk there, dance, walk back, shower, change, eat). On top of that, the college is renovating the entrance and reception area to make it more accessible, so you now have to walk round to the back of the building to the temporary reception area. Thankfully Studio C10 is easy enough to find from that location.

The class was bigger than usual, but that was nice in a way, less exposing! I wore my white Jason Samuels Smith shoes, fresh from the amazing weekend in Salford! I was complimented on them by a few classmates and our teacher. One of the guys in the class was wearing the same shoes, which was cool. I didn’t really want to be the standout with the expensive shoes ๐Ÿ™„

I would definitely say that last weekend’s tap festival gave me a bit more confidence today. Maybe it’s the shoes! No, I think as comfy as they are, Saturday’s bootcamp taught me some new steps and helped me go over old ones with extra tips. Amazing what you can pick up (excuse the pun) in a few hours!

Today we went over the basic time step, but as a few of us were already familiar, we got to do the double version (with flaps). I was paired up with the older theatre type lady (leg warmers and everything!) to go over it in a straight way and then a swung way, but she is clearly trained in the classic style rather than heel-heavy Rhythm Tap and the more modern stuff that’s going down these days and she kept telling me off for being turned out. But that’s how I like to do it! Then she was throwing in extra bits that she knows and that went way over my head. Kind of an unhelpful pairing I’m afraid to say. Anyway, I’ll keep doing my thing!

A couple of people are going to hire the studio straight after the class from next week for a practice session – great idea! Unfortunately I have to get back to work – boo!

“Tap is by the people, for the people”

Ever been unequally yoked in a dance class?

Reflections on 2017

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I have finally had a chance this weekend to think back over the last year and my various dance pursuits. Some of the highlights:

  • Rambert Contemporary Dance Summer School – such a good day and I managed to keep up with the full time dance students, even with painful achilles tendons ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Move It Dance 2017 – I go to this exhibition in London’s Docklands every year, but in 2017 I pushed the boat out and took a tap class with the Guinness World Record breaking tap dancer Jo Scanlan of Tap Attack!
  • Learnt the Shim Sham and had a go at Tap improvisation
  • Did ballet (barre only) course at improvers level at City Lit after pining for ballet for some time
  • Got my Maud & Chloe Arnold tap shoes for Christmas

I look forward to continuing my tap dance training and attending some more festivals and workshops in 2018!

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Just Been

I’ve just been to my lunchtime Rhythm Tap class. I have to say I didn’t leave work early enough to get there with some breathing space, so I was overheated and a bit out of breath. Ah, how I miss the joy of last week when I was on holiday and able to breeze in, all relaxed with plenty of time to spare…

Didn’t really feel like my brain was totally engaged, and I felt like I was second-guessing myself at times. It didn’t help being woken up in the early hours by a cat paw prodding me in the face!

dav
Gimme biscuits!

But anyway…we practised some flaps and co-ordination exercises, and we also learnt an exciting new swung walk, which began with a heel-dig in front and ended with a spring onto the other foot. When I say swung, or swing beat, it means rather than doing a 4 beat step as an even ‘1-2-3-4’, you do it as ‘a-ONE-and-two’. ย I’ll try and practice this while it’s fresh.

Then we went through our routine, but as I said, I wasn’t being as deliberate with my steps as I would like.

Chatted to K at the end of the class about doing ballet and contemporary dance. ย Our teacher had some amazing new blue Ruben Sanchez tap shoes. I like!

One thing about going back to Weds night ballet and Thurs lunchtime tap is to think about how I am going to co-ordinate kit bags. Need to ponder this when I get home later.

Hope you’ve had a fun dance week?

Book Review

Tap book

Tap! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and their Stories 1900-1955 by Rusty E. Frankย 

I have finally got around to writing this brief review, having finished reading this book back in July!

LA tap dancer Rusty E. Frank has compiled this fabulous book of interviews with all the tap dancing greats of the early to mid twentieth century as a potted history of tap. The book opens with a foreword by tap legend Gregory Hines (one of my faves!) who briefly describes the origins of the Jazz art form and the various styles and rhythms that evolved.

The book is then split into 3 parts:

Part 1: 1900-1929 (includes people such as Willie Covan, Ruby Keeler and Leonard Reed (of the Shim Sham Shimmy))

Part 2: 1930-1939 (includes the Nicholas Brothers (LOVE them!), Shirley Temple, Fred & Gene Kelly and Jeni Legon (known for wearing trouser suits…shocking!)

Part 3: 1940-1955 (includes Gene Nelson and Brenda Bufalino)

Within each section, each chapter covers a different dancer, with some introductory blurb on the historical context of the era and what was happening on the dance and entertainment scene, followed by an autobiographical interview with the dancer. Being an American art form, you can’t ignore the fact that the book covers the era of segregation. The biggest example of this is the separate entertainment circuits of Vaudeville and the TOBA (the African-American version), minstrel shows, and the separate clubs, such as the famous gangster-owned Cotton Club which was for black entertainers and white audiences. There was some cross-over, but mostly for those who were able to “pass” as white, such as Leonard Reed…until he was found out.

It was interesting to read how each dancer had their own style within a style (flash, soft shoe, Buck & Wing, rhythm tap, acrobatic). Some were tapping from childhood, some fell into it and some came from classical dance backgrounds (e.g. Gene Kelly, Ann Miller), which clearly influenced their tap style. It was also amazing how many dancers learnt from, danced with, were influenced by or loved to compete with Bill Bojangles Robinson, the world’s greatest tap dancer. (It is said that he was a tap perfectionist who put hours and hours into his craft).

Helpfully, there is a glossary of terms at the end of the book, which I referred to regularly, followed by a series of Appendices covering all the tap acts, the years they were active and what they were known for, plus a list of tap in film and on record, which is also worth looking at.

Verdict: A fantastic snapshot of tap dance and entertainment through the Jazz Age, the War years and the post-war years, straight from the horse’s mouth, if you will. A MUST-HAVE for any tap dancer if you want to understand where it all began and how it developed. I’m really pleased tap dance is making a come-back ๐Ÿ™‚