Having always loved dancing and classic Hollywood musicals and looking for fun ways to keep fit, I’ve taken it a step further (sorry!) and started tap classes.
I grew up doing ballet and as a keen young dancer even wrote to Jim’ll Fix It requesting to dance with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. Thankfully that letter went unanswered and in retrospect I’d probably have preferred dancing with Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. Fast forward and I now have a child of my own who enjoys tap AND ballet and whose local dance school has just started offering tap classes for adults. Hooray!
Before half-term the Highstone Dance Academy offered a four-week taster course attended by half a dozen keen women, and Sîan, our teacher, pushed us hard, even giving us a little routine. Now these Monday night classes at St Stephen’s in Bells Hill have started in earnest with a slightly larger group, new steps and routine. We dance to a great range of music such as Cee Lo Green’s Forget You for our warm-up and Sîan also shows us how to do proper leg stretches; our tired old limbs are treated with respect.
Even at this early stage, it’s been great to get my shoes on at home for a therapeutic shuffle around. Put on some music, start clicking your feet and the cares of the world melt away and if you take a flamenco turn with some stomping and clapping, it’s even more purging. As tap dancing is so rhythmic and percussive, unlike other types of dancing you can hear yourself getting it right.
It’s been interesting to discover that there’s growing trend for tap classes, so whether it’s the La La Land effect or just the desire to stay cheerful and active, it certainly beats the gym. What’s more, looking around my class, you can see tap’s timeless appeal with twenty-somethings, middle-aged mums and a spritely 70-year-old. I’m thrilled to finally be doing it and, despite a fair bit of hoofing around (it’s early days!), it feels fabulous.
Here’s a little master-class from 1949 to show how it’s really done.