Tap Dancing Terms



Tap dancing terms used in class are usually fairly simple. Most people find using terms like “digga digga digga, ba-bum” not only acceptable, but accurate. However, as with any industry, it is important to understand a certain amount of jargon. These are a few tap dancing terms that may be useful for clarification.




Broadway tap- a form of tap that stresses group formations for a pleasing overall affect

Challenge dance- A tap tradition where dancers compete with each other to prove they are the better tapper

Choreography- The arrangement of steps and formation to create an overall effect or mood

Chorus line- A group of dancers doing the same the same steps in unison

Clogging- wearing heavy or wooden shoes to hammer out complex rhythms

Hoofer- tap dancer

Hoofing- tap dancing

Improvisation- tapping without a planned routine as the steps come to mind

Pantomime- Imitating another sound through body movement

Polyrhythm- using multiple rhythms

Rhythm- a repeating beat or accent

Rhythm tap- a form of tap based on African tradition that stresses a loose body, polyrhythm, and improvisation

Step dance- a way of dancing that stresses the difficulty of the steps. Irish step dancing and clogging are traditional step dances.

Tap- an aluminum plate fixed to a leather shoe to create a tap shoe

Vaudeville- Variety shows featuring short acts that were popular in the late 1800’s






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