We’ve hit the 10 week mark in classes and it’s time to see what we’ve learned!


So far this year we have covered several topics including terminology, technique, counting and music theory, improvisation, the Copasetic Cannon, body awareness, and movement through space. Lots of new concepts for my students this year, and they are embracing everything with open arms! It’s very exciting to watch them grow and succeed with the new material and see how excited and proud they feel after conquering it. I’m happy with the way classes are going this year and I have a nice balance now between teaching competition dances and exploring/expanding on music theory and history. I decided that it was time to test my students to see what they’ve retained so far….


As a way to devise what my students have learned I gave them an activity during this week’s class. We split into groups and I gave each group a set of 6 index cards with names of some tap steps we’ve covered written on them (Shuffle Ball Change, Flap Ball Change, Maxie Ford, Irish, Buffalo, and Cramp Roll to start, more will be added throughout the year). I challenged them to use only those 6 steps in any way they chose and put together a 4-bar combination. They were allowed to use any rhythms they wanted so long as it stayed within the structure. Some groups got it right away, others needed a little coaching, but all in all they did a great job! We shared combos and I put the groups up against each other at the same time to teach about polyrhythms. I feel this activity helped to solidify some common vocabulary and encourage creativity through exploration of rhythms, as well as see how well they could count and follow music structures. We had a lot of fun and they are excited to try this again!

With the more advanced students I added one of two things:

1) I handed out cards with different rhythms written on them varying from quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets, sixteenths, and rests (ex. 1e&a 2& 3 a4). Students were then asked to use those rhythms somewhere in their combinations using their own ideas for footwork.

2) Each student in the group was responsible for one bar only and teaching it to their partners. We then performed duets down the line (they were across from a partner from a different group). We also worked in rounds with the combinations they created.


Another activity from a few weeks ago taught them about improvisation and polyrhythms. It’s the Nursery Rhyme Game aka Name That Tune! One of my favorites! I told them to close their eyes and listen. I then tapped “Row Row Row Your Boat” and asked if anyone could figure out the song. Once it was named we broke it down into two parts, figured out the rhythms, then put footwork to it. Next we played it in rounds (2,3, and 4), which was very interesting. It really forced the students to focus on their own timing, tempo, and rhythms. I challenged them to go home and figure out some other nursery rhymes or holiday songs to share in the coming weeks.

I’m excited to keep exploring and teaching these concepts to my students because I feel that it gives them a well-rounded understanding of what Tap dance really is.


Tappy Holidays!




I love to get moving at the start of class. Tap dancing is a full body experience and we are going to work this idea through all exercises and drills. This year I have incorporated several concepts right into the warm up I do with the majority of my classes, especially with beginners.

First we begin with the Condos Warm-up (TOUCH, HEEL DROP, TOE TAP, ROCK from heel to toe) in 8s, 4s, 2s, and singles. This gets students counting right away. Sometimes if it’s a music theory week I will change up the rhythm to include a mixture of quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets, and sixteenth notes, or even a rhythm we have been working on in class.

From there I work with just STEP HEEL, being sure to work the entire leg by picking up the foot and knee. I like to over exaggerate so we all know what foot we are on and where our weight should be. We work in straight time first, quarter notes and eighth notes, and then we repeat that in swing time. (My beginners use the pattern 12 34, 12 34; 1& 2& 3& 4&, 1& 2& 3& 4& repeated 4 times or in swing 12 34, 12 34; 1a 2a 3a 4a, 1a 2a 3a 4a). This allows students to get the feeling and hear the difference between the two. Sometimes I will change up the pattern for more advanced students or initiate a call and response section.

Next up is the GRAPEVINE in a 7 3 1 pattern. Depending on the level of the students we will either do this just with STEP, STEP HEEL in straight time, or STEP HEEL in swing time. This forces them to count because they tend to run into each other if they don’t! It also teaches them the common pattern of doing something 7 times, then 3 times, then 1 time (usually switching feet).

Then we are back to straight time using the STEP HEEL pattern from before, but this time using HEEL DIG and TOE DROP, and then repeating it in swing time. This builds body awareness and weight change as well as a challenging technique for beginners.

We hit up the GRAPEVINE once again, just to drive home the 7 3 1 pattern and how to move through the space.

Lastly, I will end with PRESS CRAMP ROLL. Since we have worked with STEP HEEL in the first part of the warm-up I come back to it in a slightly harder form. I have found PRESS CRAMP ROLLS give my advanced students a bit of trouble too, especially when we start working with the opposite heel and changing feet. So instead of developing a separate exercise I put it right in the warm-up so we do it every week. Occasionally I will change the pattern once they catch on- we work in quarter notes first, then will do one in eighth notes and clap the remaining beats of the bar. Then maybe we will try 3 in a row on the same foot, etc…

This warm-up includes not only technique, but a good amount of body awareness and musical theory/concepts. Some of my favorite songs to use are “Just a Gigolo” by Louis Prima, “Mac the Knife” by Ella Fitzgerald, and “Movin On” by Louie Bellson.

**Special thanks to Thelma Goldberg for PRESS CRAMP ROLL ideas** Check out her AMAZING book Thelma’s Tap Notes and read more about her in this great article from Dance Studio Life written by Ryan Casey! Check out her youtube page too!

How to Pick Up Choreography

Here is a great article from by Nichelle Suzanne on how to pick up choreography!

Click here to read


Back on Track

Wow it’s been a while. Two hip surgeries (one on each side) in 9 months and a long diagnosis and recovery period have definitely given me a chance to think about where I am as a Tap dancer, teacher, and choreographer, and where I would like to go next. As part of my own recovery (I’ll be 100% totally good to go by September of 2015, but I’m well ahead of the game after only 6 months!) I have decided to join forces with the American Tap Dance Foundation in NYC and be a part of their first ever Tap Teacher Training Certification Program! It’s exciting for me because I love the history and music (jazz) that helped birth Tap into what it is today- and that’s exactly what I will be learning how to teach and teaching this season!

As part of my requirements I have to keep a log of things that I teach and how they incorporate the teaching goals I have been assigned so I thought it would be fun to post them here. I will be sharing some of the exercises I use in class because I feel it’s important that we keep the tradition of Tap alive, and if we don’t teach it who will? In the coming months I will be discussing exercises that focus on concepts that we sometimes forget to teach, for instance: counting, music theory, history, and freedom of expression (aka the dreaded word… improv). I find a lot of times (myself included) we spend most of class reviewing dances and choreography and our students don’t get to appreciate all that Tap has to offer. One of my goals this season is to bring that appreciation back. I’m using a lot of Jazz music- things my students may not listen to on their own but yet are vital to understanding swing as well as straight time rhythms- as my first step. I make sure to tell my students the name of the song as well as the artist (and the composer if I know) because names like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Glenn Miller, and Count Basie are among the great musicians that our “Founding Fathers” of Tap would perform with.


Today we will be talking about…….


It’s not as scary as you think…you just have to go about it the right way.

My favorite quote ever is from Honi Coles, who said “If you can walk, you can Tap”. I wholeheartedly believe in this theory.

Only one of my classes has ever really explored the wonderful world of improvisation with me, and that was an advanced class several years ago. This year, ALL OF MY CLASSES will be entering into the wonderful world of improvisation, they just don’t know it yet. The reason? I’m not calling it “improv”. Why? Because it’s a scary word. I don’t know why people are scared of it, but yet they are. You improvise every day with words, sports plays that go wrong, lies, etc…so why is it so difficult to do in dance class?

The way I decided to conquer it was to work with a “counting game”. This worked out very well with each class I tried it with- everyone was open to it and seemed to enjoy it, maybe because it was different than the regular technique exercises I usually teach. Here it is:

Pick some good jazz music that’s at a medium tempo. I like “Cool Struttin'” by Sonny Clark and “Staten Island Groove” by Down to the Bone. That one’s funky and they both are about 9 minutes long. We begin with showing and naming some single sounds together (stomp, heel dig, toe drop, scuff, toe knock, etc). Then I ask students if they can count to four. They all laugh and say yes so we count to four together (of course I start them on the 1 being sure 1 is always the downbeat that starts the bar- otherwise who knows what count they may start on!) We talk about bars of music (bars in Jazz, measures in Classical) and how in 4/4 time there are 4 beats to a bar, each one gets a number (1,2,3,4), and they’re called quarter notes. Next I ask them to find counts on their own. (We do everything together as a big group because it’s safe for everyone, especially those who aren’t strong counters.)  Find the 1 and make a single sound on just that count. Every time the 1 comes around change the sound you make. Find just the 3. Find the 1 and 3. Find the 1, 3, and 4. And so on. We eventually end up making a different single sound on all the counts. And guess what? That’s improv! I tell them to move around the room and let the movement determine their next sound. Don’t think, just move. No matter what, you’re always right since there is no such thing as wrong in improv.

Then we go back to talking about bars- how many counts are in 2 bars? Can we make single sounds for 2 bars then hold 2 bars of silence? This really helps to solidify where the 1 is as they all have to come back in on time. From there I ask for a 2 bar phrase. It’s all quarter notes (1,2,3,4) so it’s not difficult and the right music will set them up for success. I give them a good amount of time to work it out and practice it. They should be able to repeat their phrase multiple times. We all share our phrases together and if the class is ready I have them share one at a time (so far all my classes have enjoyed this part- they have a sense of accomplishment that they made up their own step). In reality what they have is their very own time step!

Next what I would do is go into the 3 and a break structure and/or variations. I didn’t have time since I had other things I needed to teach but it’s on the list for the coming weeks. My plan is to alternate every other week with these types of music theory/improvisation classes because I find some students LOVE them while others who are used to the more common technique classes need to ease into this style, and it’s important to be sensitive to students’ learning needs.

I hope that this sparks some interest for you all out there to try something different (if you don’t already teach improv)! Happy Tappy =)

Concepts covered: Music Theory and Structure, Vocabulary, Improvisation, Movement Through Space

PS- With my Thursday advanced students at Uconn who needed a quick piece to perform in a pinch, I used the above exercise (and included eighth notes, triplets, and sixteenth notes) along with the 3 and a break/variation concepts to give them each their own unique time steps. Being able to go in and out of a time step gives you the opportunity to build your improvisation easily and gives you somewhere to come back to. It also helps you create your melody based on the notes and sounds you put into your time step. It’s a win win!

From there you can easily put a piece together: Start with the Coles Stroll, throw in some improv (or go down the line of dancers each performing their time step in a 3 and a break format- it will always work if you stay in the same time signature), do the Shim Sham next (and you can deconstruct this into time steps to improvise over), then the BS Chorus as the big finish. Wha-la! You have just created a 2-5 minute performance piece. Yeay!

Valentine’s Performance

On February 13th and 14th I did something I’ve never done before.

A friend called me up looking for entertainment for a Valentine’s Day party at his office. His office happens to be Davita Dialysis in Hartford, CT. I had no idea what I was getting myself into until I went to check out the space and saw about 24 patients hooked up to machines, most looking particularly glum. My friend had told me that every now and again the staff likes to give their patients something to look forward to and bring a little excitement into their lives by having  performers come in, even if just for a half hour.

I said that I would love to be a part of that and quickly enlisted my friend Corey Hutchins to Tap with me.

Corey and I performed a quick little set that I threw together (without rehearsal due to the massive snow storm Nemo that hit New England) and brought my boards from “room” to “room” so that we could share our gifts with everyone. Each “room” had a different song and consisted of about 6 patients each. It was such an amazing feeling to see their eyes light up and to hear some of them even sing along!

The set list included “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You” by Dean Martin, “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra, “L.O.V.E” by Nat King Cole, and ” Baby You Got What it Takes” by Michael Buble. We improvised and threw in the Shim Sham, B.S. Chorus, and our own little break.

This experience was one that I will never forget. To just feel the energy in the room brought me great joy and to have the staff and people from the waiting room follow us around to watch us dance made me humbly appreciate my talent and gift. The absolute topper to the day was when one of the nurses came up to us and said “One of my patients said to me ‘Get me out of this wheelchair, I want to Tap'”.


With what seems like two full time jobs (an actual full time job and a full load of classes), and my wedding last September, sadly my blog has taken a back seat to life. Have no fear- my love and passion for Tap is still rooted deep in my soul. Although it seems like things have been quiet on the front, there is a storm a-brewin’ in the distance. Good things come to those who wait and patience, practice, and perseverance is the key to success.

Remember, Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.

Tap World Video

My Tap World video is up! Check it out and see why I do what I do and why I love Tap so much.

The Tap World is a  small yet close family of dancers who support each other’s growth and creativity around the globe. We are banding together to help create a Documentary to teach people about Tap, share our stories, and get the World excited about Tap.

Please follow the link to see the video

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