Course Profile

This course emphasizes the development of students’ artistry, improvisational and compositional skills, and technical proficiency in global dance genres. Students will apply dance elements, techniques, and tools in a variety of ways, including performance situations; describe and model responsible practices related to the dance environment; and reflect on how the study of dance affects personal and artistic development. These skills will be developed through tap dance technique and development of choreography. 

Course Overview

This course provides an in-depth study into the history of tap dance, technique and etiquette. Students will explore the role of tap dance in an evolving society. They will develop performance skills that will assist them when they are working through in-class studies and performing for larger community audiences. The critical analysis process and creative process will be used when developing both their their technical and compositional skills.

Scope & Sequence

Unit Descriptions

Unit One - Technique and Etiquette of Tap Dance (50 hours)

Students will learn tap technique and tap class etiquette. This unit is on-going throughout the course, interwoven with the learning in Units #2 and #3. Throughout the course, the students will focus on developing technical competency as well as creating choreography that can be shared within the class or possibly with the school or outside community depending on the skill level and confidence of the students. Students will also explore the sounds found around us through the lens of tap choreography and technique. They will experiment with the connections between sounds in our world and the sounds made through tapping. Students will learn how to use technology to create a soundscape about a social issue of their choice. They will record original soundscapes from found sound through teacher directed activities. The culminating activity will reflect tap technique learned throughout the course.

Unit Two - Social and Historical Perspective of Tap (20 hours)

This unit will focus on discovering how tap was affected by social events throughout history (i.e.: During the depression much dance, tap included, was a release from the economic stresses of the times.). Students will learn how tap has played an important role in entertainment (vaudeville to musical theatre) throughout history. Students will create an independent Research Project and present their findings infused with technology (e.g. power point, smart board, IPOD projects, etc.). As a class, students will create a time line (1800's clogging to tap in contemporary society) that reflects the social and political structures of this time period in North America and in Western Europe. 

Unit Three - Tap Dance in a Changing World (25 hours) 

Students will compare the notable tap dancers and performance venues of the past to those that exist today (i.e. Bojangles vs. Glover, Astaire vs. Gregory Hines, Vaudeville vs. Broadway). Students will observe the works of these individuals through videos of their choreography in performances. They will learn their combinations and dance styles. After recreating these combinations, they will reflect about their kinesthetic and aesthetic responses to the artists and their styles of tap dance. In this unit, students will also research the existence of professional tap companies and explore what their goals and mandate are and how they are relevant to the dance world. Technique learned in this unit may be incorporated into their choreography in the culminating activity. 

Culminating Activity

The Language of Tap - Creating and Performing (15 hours) 

In preparation for their culminating activity, students will locate text sources on social (e.g., racism) and environmental (e.g., global warming) issues in our contemporary society that they will layer on top of the rhythmic found sounds already recorded in unit 1. These integrated soundscapes (text and sound) will be used in their final choreography.
Students will create original choreographed tap pieces. Students will interpret through movement their recorded soundscapes (which explored found rhythmic sounds and a social issue through found text). Using compositional strategies students will structure their dance piece incorporating tap technique and their own rhythmic inventions for their choreography. They will perform these compositions to the soundscapes recorded in Unit Four. Final work will be presented to each other or to audiences outside of the classroom, perhaps to elementary students, where appropriate. This culminating activity will allow students to demonstrate tap technique as well as their understanding of tap dance as both an entertainment and a reflection of society.



Feinstein, Stephen. Savion Glover. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enxlow Elementary, 2008. ISBN 0-766-0-2897-6

Feldman, Anita. Inside Tap: Technique and Improvisation for Today's Tap Dancer. Pennington, NJ: Princeton Book Company,  1995. ISBN

Knowles, Mark. The Tap Dance Dictionary. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1998. ISBN-13: 9780786403523

West, Colleen N. Tap Dance Fundamentals. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2008. ISBN 075722300


(Savion Glover and Gregory Hines)



Video: An American in Paris. (1951) featuring Fred Astaire

Video: Bojangles. (2001) featuring Gregory Hines

Video: Bamboozled. (2000) featuring Savion Glover

Video: Happy Feet. (2006) featuring Savion Glover

Video: Singin' in the Rain. (1952) featuring Gene Kelly

Video: Stomp the Yard. (2007)

Video: Tap. (1989) The sequence of tap dancers in the "Challenge" scene is: Arthur Duncan, Bunny Briggs, Jimmy Slyde, Steve Condos, Harold Nicholas, Sandman Sims and finally Sammy Davis, Jr. and Gregory Hines. The Shim Sham Girls in the nightclub scene are: Suzanne Douglas, Jane Goldberg, Dorothy Wasserman, Dianne Walker and Frances Neely. (PJC)

Video: White Nights. (1985) featuring Gregory Hines


A box of extra tap shoes for students who may not have them

Instructional Strategies

Direct Instruction  
Student directed lessons
Video Viewing and Analysis
Cooperative Learning
Rubric Development
Group Work

Glossary of Terms Specific to Course

American Style - Very Jazzy, down into the floor, lots of heel work, strongly syncopated.

Canon - A choreographic form in which a dance phrase is performed by more than one soloist or group and begins at different times so that the phrases overlap (analogous to a round in music)

Clog Dance - Origin of tap dance. Irish popular dances danced within wooden "clog" shoes.

English Style - A very light and elegant dancing style, quite classical in its own way.

Paradiddle - A dance in which the rhythm is sounded out by the clicking taps on the heels and toes of a dancer's shoes.

Rhythm - movement or procedure with uniform or patterned recurrence of a beat, accent, or the like.

Soundscape -  is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment.

Soft Shoe - English style but without taps

Refer to curriculum document glossary for all other terms.

Examples of Activities

Talking with our Feet (from Unit #4)
Found Sound - Tap in a Box (from Unit #4)
Personal Sound Palettes (from Unit #4)

Overview of BLMs

Assessment and Evaluation Strategies

Anecdotal Comments

Peer and Self Evaluation


Ongoing feedback
Performance Rubric
Exit Card