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Learn the history of tap dancing and famous tap dancers. Find local tap dance classes.

It’s name comes from the tapping sound made when metal plates on the dancer's shoes touches a hard surface.  Because tap dancers use their feet like drums to create syncopation - rhythmic patterns and timely beats - they are also considered a percussive musician.  They can improvise by following the beats from music, but many dance a cappella.  Their are many forms of tap dancing.  “Rhythm tap” is used by hoofers who dance primarily with their legs, making a louder, more grounded sound.  Clogging involves double-time stomping and steps executed with the body held straight and upright. Clogging is performed to the downbeat of the music, usually with the heel keeping rhythm. 

Tap dancing has also always been very popular around the world.  From Spanish flamenco dancers to Stomp dancing in Ireland tap dancers perform in many shows, festivals, and tv dance competitions like So You Think You Can Dance.

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Tap dancing became very famous in the 1940's when tap dancers were showcased in movies.

  1. Fred Astaire
    Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. In the 1940’s Fred Astaire provided a more ballroom look to tap dancing, while Gene Kelly incorporate his extensive tap training to it.  This style of tap led to what is known as the "Broadway style," which is popular in American mainstream culture today and can be seen on the musical, 42nd St.  His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films.

  2. Sammy Davis, Jr
    Primarily a dancer and singer, Davis was a childhood vaudevillian, and became internationally famous for his performances on Broadway and Las Vegas, as a recording artist, television and film star, and the only black member of Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack".

  3. Shirley Temple
    Born tovGertrude Amelia Krieger a retired dancer, Shirley Temple was encouraged towards performing from early childhood. She has since become one or the most famous child actors worldswide. In the 1935 feature film Little Colonel, Shirley Temple and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson tap dance through a famous scene on the stairs.

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Tap Dancers

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