Basics of Tap Dancing Classes – Dance Scene Harlow

Tap Lessons – The Basic -An Introduction

Tap dancing lessons, an indigenous dance form, usually in complex, syncopated rhythms and executed audibly with the toes and heels of the feet in specially designed shoes.

Dance Scene here in Harlow Essex provides classes for students of all abilities, don’t be put off if this all seems to complex, we’ll soon have you creating a real dance fusion!

Learning how to tap dance shares similarities to learning a new language. Often when first learning a new language, one starts by learning the alphabet of that language — we will do the same thing here for tap dance.

Here are the essentials of tap dancing a beginner should know about.

Dance Scene in Harlow Essex has available great resources and facilities to ensure that any class you join will give you the best possible chance of success, no more so than tap dancing, and that’s from toddler, to adult.

1. Step

Place all of your weight on the ball of the foot striking the floor. Heel does not touch the floor (sneaking it down with no sound is ok).
A Step as one of their first tap steps, because it is something that most of us do daily – that is, walk.

The two keys to tap dance are weight and rhythm. Learning a Step teaches you the ultimate basics in both of these concepts.

Only the ball of the foot comes down on a Step (the heel should not touch… that is a different move.)

Another important concept on this one is to make sure that you fully commit your weight 100 %instantly when you do a Step.

People think doing a Step is super easy, and it is – but, what gets people in trouble is establishing bad habits on tap basics, such as gradually shifting your weight to the other foot, rather than shifting it over instantly.

2. Touch

Touch the ball of your foot to the floor, making a sound. No weight is placed on your foot. Heel does not touch the floor.

A Touch is basically Step’s cousin. This is same as a Step, except you don’t put any weight onto your foot.

That means a Touch stays on the same side – if you did eight Touches in a row, they would all be with the same foot you started with.

To execute a Touch, pick one foot up and touch the ball of the foot to the floor. Sound simple? It is!

Dance Scene Logo, classes in Harlow
Dance Scene Logo, classes in Harlow

3. Ball Change

Here two steps squished together into one count. Heel does not touch the floor on either sound. Rhythm can be straight or swung.

A Ball Change is used quite often in tap dance. To execute a Ball Change, you Step twice, either R-L (right foot, then left) or L-R (left foot, then right), and you do this very quickly.

The rhythm usually depends on whether the music is ‘swung’ or ‘straight’.

4. Hop

Standing on one foot, a Hop is executed by jumping into the air and landing on the same foot you were standing on. One sound (the sound occurs when you land). Heel does not touch the floor.

There are a couple of very specific rules about Hops that I will discuss here.

(1) You must take off and land on one foot–the same foot you took off from returns down to the floor. So—as an example, if you are standing, pick up your right foot.

(That means you will be standing on your left foot).

To do a Hop, jump into the air (doesn’t have to be a big jump, should stay close to the floor—but make sure your foot leaves the floor), and when you return to the floor, land on the same foot—the left foot.

(2) Hops should land with only the ball of your foot touching the floor. This gives a cleaner sound. Cleaner sounds = better tapping.

(3) Hops should stay low to the ground (while still leaving the ground). This allows you to stay in control of the step, rather than having the step control you.

5. Leap

Standing on one foot, a Leap is executed by jumping into the air and landing on the opposite foot you on which you were standing.

One sound (when you land). Heel does not touch the floor.

The main and really only difference between Hops and Leaps is, with a Leap, you land on the opposite foot off which you jumped.

I think Leaps are trickier than Hops in some ways, simply because most people have done more Hops than Leaps in their childhood. You will learn more at our tap dancing classes.

6. Step Heel

As the name implies, you do a Step, and then a Heel. Usually this is done within the same count of music.

A Heel is also known as a Heel Drop and the two terms are used interchangeably.

Two sounds. Heel touches the floor on the second move (the Heel Drop).

7. Shuffle

Here two sounds are made with the ball of the foot with a dropping and lifting motion of the leg. Sounds complicated, we’ll make it simple when you come along to our tap lessons.

One sound occurs on the way down, and one on the way up. Heel does not touch the floor.

A Shuffle is probably the most famous and widely-used tap step out there. It is essential for dancers to have good Shuffles in order to be a good tap dancer.

When first learning Shuffles, your motion will probably be too big. Your leg and foot will probably be doing a lot of work that, later on, will ideally turn into less and less work.

When first learning Shuffles, many teachers teach a ‘front to back’ Brushing motion with the foot.

8. Flap

Two sounds, both made with the ball of the foot. You place your weight on the second sound of the Flap.

Ballet dancer A basic way to think of this step is as a Brush forward with the ball of the foot, and then you Step onto it. Heel does not touch the floor.

As you do your Flaps, think about focusing not on your ankle or foot, but on your knees, and really try to straighten your leg all the way.

A straight leg is a relaxed leg, and we want to stay relaxed in tap. Relaxation = less effort = faster sounds. Tension = effort = slower sounds.

9. Flap Ball Change

As the name implies, it is small grouping of two basic steps: a Flap followed by a Ball Change. 4 sounds need to be produced here. Heels do not touch the floor.

Flap Ball Change is a tap essential comprised of two basic building blocks.

The building blocks in this step: Flap and Ball Change, have two sounds each, for a total of 4 sounds.

The rhythm on Flap Ball Change should be identical: the Flap should sound exactly, or close to exactly, like the Ball Change.

Flap Ball Changes travel. If you do a bunch of them, you will most likely travel across the floor.

The step can be done in place, but we do not see this often. A Flap Ball Change exercise is a great ‘across the floor’ exercise for dancers. At our tap classes we’ll explain more.

It is used commonly in combinations.

10. Paddle

4 sounds need to be produced here. A speed step made up of 4 basic steps; all four sounds are made with the same foot:

(1) Heel Dig (heel touches floor with no weight),

(2) Back Brush,

(3) Step,

(4) Heel.

Another way to break this step down is Scuffle, Step, Heel.


A Paddle is a speed step. Meaning, we want to do this step very fast. That is when it is most impressive.

More important than going fast, however, is learning Paddles correctly, and then building up speed after that.

11. Stamp

Full foot is brought to the floor, weight is placed on your foot. Both the heel and ball taps hit the floor at roughly the same time to create one sound.

Stamps are another tap essential and, like several other steps, deceptively tricky to get right.

Placing your foot down with a full foot (meaning, the entire foot hits at once) sounds easy, right?

Well, the #1 error that I’ve seen when students are learning Stamps is that many people end up bringing their foot down flat, creating a THUD kind of sound, rather than a nice ring sound that fills up the room.

12. Stomp

Full foot is brought to the floor, no weight is placed on your foot. Both the heel and ball tap hit the floor at roughly the same time to create one sound.

Stomps, like Stamps, are another tap essential, and for many people are a bit trickier to master than Stamps.

All of the rules and tips for Stamps apply to Stomps.

The only big difference between the two is that Stomps do not take your weight.

Meaning, when you bring your foot to the floor, don’t put your weight on it. Stamps take your weight, Stomps do not.

For more information on Dance Scene’s Tap dancing lessons in Harlow, Essex, contact us:




As we have said, we have two fantastic venues in Harlow. So if you are in Matching, Bishops Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, Little Hallingbury, Nazeing, North Weald Bassett, Moreton, Sheering, Hatfield Broad Oak, Matching Green, Roydon, Church Langley, Hoddesdon, Stanstead Abbotts, or Thornwood we are ideally located for you.

Come and join us!


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