Magazine article Dance Spirit

Tighten Those Taps

Magazine article Dance Spirit

Tighten Those Taps

Article excerpt



Brenda Bufalino, founder and director of New York City's American Tap Dance Orchestra, often says that shoes are a dancer's instruments. As the "musician" it's your responsibility to both care for and tune them. Although choosing the right shoes is very important for getting optimum quality and comfort, understanding how taps and shoes work together will increase your chances of producing the sound you want.


If your shoes don't come with a pair of taps already attached, you can buy them, as well as fiberboards and screws, at your local dance store or from a catalogue, and have them attached professionally. If there are no dance stores or studios in your area that attach taps, use a shoe repair service. When visiting a cobbler for the first time, let him or her know the importance of accuracy when applying the taps. Likewise, be willing to listen to any suggestions the cobbler might have.

When Lynn Schwab, who teaches and performs throughout NYC, has her taps attached, she draws on the bottom of her shoes to illustrate exactly where she wants them put.


The more your taps are used, the thinner they get. This affects the sound you produce because, with less aluminum to strike against the floor, the pitch is higher. According to Schwab, a good indication that your taps need to be replaced is when the standard engravings on the bottom of your toe tap are no longer legible.

Barbara Duffy, master teacher and former dance captain of ATDO, says you can replace taps yourself. As long as the taps are the same size, you can unscrew the old ones and replace them with new taps. Simple repairs and maintenance are practical do-ityourself tasks that allow you to be fully aware of the condition of your shoes and become as familiar as possible with their structure.


Your familiarity should extend to what holds the taps on. …

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