In all my obsessing over whether or not I should return to ballet, I sat down with my notebook at lunchtime and found there my list of things to practice for tap dance over the Summer! These were:
Time step (single, double & triple)
New time step (can’t remember what this was – doh!)
Pick-ups (no claw toes please)
Pickup-hop-step (travelling backwards)
Suzy-Q (master the left)
The SHIM SHAM!!!
Although I have been distracted, I have actually been practicing the Shim Sham at every opportunity. This has often been at work either in the ladies toilets or the corridor to the stairs ha-ha!
Now that I’ve reminded myself of this list, I can get on with practicing some of these steps before we resume in September. My goal is to try to master some of these basic steps and then get a little bit quicker…
Did you set yourself any dance goals to achieve this summer? How about for next term?
Last night I went to the Tap Shim Sham workshop at Morley College. It was SO MUCH FUN! It was a much larger class due to there being people from levels 1, 2 and 3 present. I knew a lot of them, but not the level three-ers. Caught up with a few pals to explain my 3 week absence!
So what is the Shim Sham? It’s a simple routine that is known by tap dancers the world over, like the tap national anthem. It was developed by tap legends Leonard Reed and Willy Bryant back in the 1920s while touring the African American version of the Vaudeville circuit (TOBA).
Here is a clip of Gregory Hines doing the Shim Sham:
We started with a warm up and stretch in a circle and then, working in 3 rows we started learning the steps, all done in a swing beat. We rotated rows just so that everyone got a chance to work in front of the mirror. For some reason my left ankle was hurting when I tried to shake it out, but it seem didn’t bother me while dancing. We learnt the dance to a slower track and then a fast one which was amazing!
We also did a short improvisation exercise back in a circle where every time there was a pause the next person in the circle had to fill 4 beats. Argh, scary when you know you’re next! This then fed back into the dance when we were free to improvise in the gaps. Several people did lots of taps when it was their turn, particularly the advanced people. I kept it simple with a cramp roll and three crawl beats but threw my whole body into it. This exercise plus the book I’m reading (TheGreatestTapDanceStars & theirStories1900–1955) has actually made me realise that it’s ok to have my own style and it’s not necessarily about hundreds of intricate taps but feeling the music, working within the rhythm and doing your thing!
Afterwards there was lots of chat about who’s coming next week, what are you doing in the Autumn, the Dorrance Dance and Old Kent Road workshops that some people attended on Sunday and Monday plus the Dorrance Dance show that’s currently on at Sadlers Wells. My teacher said I’d really enjoy it, but I really can’t fit it in this week or justify going to the theatre 4 times in the space of 4 weeks (2 performances were featuring relatives or people I know) 😩 I told my teacher that I did see 42nd Street a few weeks ago and she was saying how that style of tap is not necessarily as technical…
Got home at 9.30pm and my Tap Board had arrived!!! I have Thursday off work, so I can get stuck in 😊 Maybe I can prepare for next week’s two hour Improvisation & Composition workshop…
Yesterday was such a miserable, rainy day in London. I’ve been really stressed out recently and I really wasn’t feeling like going to Tap after work, but I knew that it would cheer me up and I would be energised…which it did, and I was!
I spoke to my teacher when I was grabbing water before the class started and told her I have booked a place on her Tap Shim Sham class, but I wasn’t sure about the Improvisation & Composition class the following week, and if I would be the right level. (Told her about my previous experience of Improvisation when I was still a beginner and didn’t have enough steps in my vocabulary to do a lot) She said I should definitely do it. It sounds as though it will be a relaxed and fun 2 hour workshop for level two upwards, so I am booked on!
So my summer programme is looking like this:
Weds 12th July – Tap Shim Sham 7-8pm
Weds 19th July – Tap Improvisation & Composition 6-8pm
Monday 31st July – Rambert 1 Day Adult Dance Intensive 10-4
I’m really looking forward to it, and I’ve got a day off after each event so I pace myself and don’t end up ill again.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to mention the workshops to my friend last night, and she zipped off as soon as the class was finished.
It’s funny, a girl at the level 1 class last night was asking me about other classes I’ve done as she’s interested in doing ballet as well, but is not sure about days and timings. She said she has a habit of overcommitting and burning out. Yeah, me too!
To alleviate some of the stress and back ache I am feeling at the moment, I have booked a 1 hour aromatherapy massage tomorrow afternoon. I was only going to get a half hour back massage, but the receptionist said they have a new therapist and all of her treatments are currently half price! So I went for the full hour. Hopefully it will be good…
This week I have sorted out what dance I am going to do this Summer, after hearing that there is no Brighton Tap Festival this year.
Yesterday I booked onto Tap Shim Sham with my usual tap teacher, which takes place at Morley on Wednesday 12th July. As it will be a late one getting home, I’m taking the next day off work!
Secondly, I have gone all out and booked a place on the first day of the 2-day Adult Summer Dance Intensive with Rambert, based at Waterloo! I’m nervous, but also really excited! It will give me a chance to do something non-Tap. I’ve been chatting with a lady at Tap class about doing something along the lines of ballet barre or yoga to stretch out a bit, so I might mention it to her if she’s there this evening. It involves Contemporary dance technique, repertoire, choreography and some yoga and Pilates to finish! I’ve booked the following day off so I can recover LOL.
I’ve also since discovered, that my tap teacher is also doing a 2 hour Tap Improvisation & Composition class on Weds 19th July! That would be great, but not sure if that will be one thing too many, with work and the possibility of moving house… Must pace myself.
Anyone else doing any summer schools or festivals this year? How do you find fitting in dance classes and work (and commuting?)?