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Tap Shoes

All About Tap Shoes


One of the most important skills a tap dancer needs to learn is how to choose the right pair of tap shoes. Once you begin shopping for tap shoes, you will see that there are many different styles available. Use the following guide to help you find the perfect pair of tap shoes according to style, fit and sound.

Styles of Tap Shoes

Tap shoes are available in a variety of shapes, styles and colors. Tap shoes are generally made of four materials: leather, canvas, wood and plastic. Young tappers tend to favor the Mary Jane style of tap shoes, with a single ribbon tied into a bow on the top of the foot. Older, more experienced dancers typically prefer flat leather oxford tap shoes. Tap shoes with heels are also available if preferred, but tend to be a little more difficult to balance on, as they place more weight on the ball of the foot and the toes. More advanced dancers usually opt for split-sole jazz tap shoes, which allow more flexibility for performing advanced tap steps.

Fitting Tap Shoes

Overall comfort and fit is extremely important when purchasing tap shoes. If the tap shoes don’t fit perfectly, tap sounds won't be clear and precise. Keep in mind that sizes of tap shoes may be quite different than street shoes sizes. If you are not sure of two sizes, opt for the smaller size. Tap shoes should always fit snugly, with very little space in the toe box. With frequent use, the most tap shoes will stretch and allow more room for your feet.

Sounds of Tap Shoes

When choosing tap shoes, it's just as important to consider how they sound as how they look and feel. Tap shoes differ by the amount of screws attached to the taps. The screws are adjustable, so different sounds can be produced. Tap dancers often loosen or tighten screws to adjust the sound made by their taps. The most common tap shoes have three screws on each shoe. After dancing for a while, dancers develop a personal preference for tap shoes determined by specific tap sounds.

Buying Tap Shoes

Tap shoes may be purchased at dance supply shops or online. If you're buying your first pair of tap shoes, however, it's best to try them on. As with fitting any type of shoes, be sure to wear the same type of socks or tights you will wear while dancing. Walk around in the tap shoes and try a few tap steps and foot stretches.

Tap shoes will generally cost between $40 to $100. Don't spend too much on your first pair, however, as you will quickly find specific details of the tap shoes that are most important to you.

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