Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tap Teaching Tip: The Snappy Shuffle

This year I have three classes of 1st and 2nd graders in tap / jazz combination class and we are focusing on increasing the speed and clarity of their tap steps.  I've noticed that they are still doing the large "baby" shuffle -- where they use almost their entire leg to swing the foot back and forth to make the sounds.

I was trying to think of a way to help them understand the faster shuffle and we came up with the "snappy shuffle" which we practice during tap barre.  The "snappy shuffle" is a quick shuffle that is small and the dancer uses the knee to do most of the work (lifting the knee up and down as opposed to bringing the whole leg forward and back).

I am having good results so far.  The kids love "going fast" and enjoy the challenge of doing "steps like the big girls/boys".

Now we are working on translating that same "snappy shuffle" into our other steps, like irishes (shuffle hop step) and buffalos (leap shuffle leap).

Here is our tap barre that I use for a warm-up, lately we've been using "He Could Be the One - Hannah Montana to give you an idea of the tempo.

Shuffle Warm-Up at Tap Barre for Intermediate Tap (age 6-9)
8 shuffles (12  34  56  78)
4 snappy shuffles with hold in between (a1 hold 2, a3 hold 4, a5 hold 6, a7 hold 8)
8 snappy shuffles (a1 a2 a3 a4 a 5 a6 a7 a8)

4 slow shuffle toe jabs (123 hold 4, 567 hold 8)
8 quick shuffle toe jabs (&12, &34, &56, &78)

4 slow shuffle ball changes (1234, 5678)
8 quick shuffle ball changes (&1&2 &3&4 &5&6 &7&8)

Face other way and repeat on left side.

Some Notes:  The goal of this warm-up is to increase the speed at which the dancers can complete the shuffle sounds.  When we are doing the slow sections, I make sure to remind the dancers of their technique (heel lifted in ball change, toe jab comes off the floor) but when we go fast, we just concentrate on getting the sounds in.  Later in the year when we will check on the technique during the fast part.

Tap teachers, what are the ways you teach your dancers to get the fast shuffle?  Any tips?

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