Each of these steps can also be modified by changing the number of beats, how they’re put together or the timing of them. Some of these more complex steps can also be combined to make compound steps (e.g. wing time steps). Generally, the preparation and recovery for these skills is a plie (bending the knees) in order to gain height and to land safely without causing any damage to the knees. In order to perform these steps to a high-quality, various fitness components are especially important.
Timing: Although this is required in most kinds of dance, it is particularly necessary in tap because the dancing is as much to do with sound and rhythm as it is with being aesthetically pleasing. During a performance or examination, it’s crucial the tap beats are in time with the music and with each other; if not the whole dance looks messy and the performer is likely to make a mistake. Speed: Particularly in the advanced, vocational grades, footwork can become very rapid and intricate. Speed is essential in getting every beat heard synchronized and in step with the music.
Muscular Endurance: Strength in the lower leg is continuously needed throughout a dance to maintain separation and clarity of beats; without this sustained power and muscle sounds will begin to slur together and the whole performance will look sloppy. Coordination: This is fundamental in being able to work the different parts of the foot with each other and with other parts of the body like the arms and head. It is impossible to synchronize and manage the body as a whole without it.
Balance: While this is needed throughout the entire dance to be able to transfer weight appropriately in order to create clear, crisp sounds, it is particularly important when performing turning steps and steps where only one foot is working. Good spotting is useful in maintaining this fitness component while changing direction. Cardio-vascular endurance and strength are also fairly important in upholding presentation and movement throughout a piece and having enough power to produce all sounds with precision particularly in steps involving pick-ups (i.e. pullbacks).
Generally dance sessions work towards an examination or competing in a festival; components an examiner or adjudicator would be looking out for in order to give a high mark for distinction or first place would comprise of: An examiner would look to see if each of these factors were achieved before deciding on a final mark or opinion. However, each of these would be given greater emphasis depending on the audience, level of competitor and the circumstance of the performance.
Section 2: Analyse and identify in detail the strengths of the performer. One of Suzy’s main strengths is her performance and entertainment skills; every time she dances her head is lifted, she looks confident and she makes the sequence look effortless. This makes the overall routine look more aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to watch. This skill is probably so developed because it is practised in all the different forms of dance she learns; this includes taking part in festivals and annual shows at Oakengates Theatre. These skills were demonstrated at the recent ‘Wrekin Dance Festival’ where she won a number of medals and the adjudicator commended her on how well she managed to entertain the audience.
Her coordination is also of a very high standard, allowing her to move different parts of her body in time with each other, particularly her arms with her tap beats. Steps her coordination skills are particularly seen in include riffs, cramp rolls and ripples where a lot of quick, successive beats using the heel and toe together are demonstrated. However, these movements are often not in time with the music, reducing how much her coordination appears to improve her overall performance, sometimes making her dances look untidy.
Line and style is usually of good quality from Suzy too; she usually extends her arms fully and keeps her shoulders relaxed, looking along the arm line when appropriate. Her style reflects her lively atmosphere, and while this is fun to watch, it sometimes means foot-work becomes a little slapdash. Sometimes, certain movements could be highlighted with a short pause or accent too, but overall this makes her performances enjoyable to watch and aesthetically pleasing, keeping an audience attentive and interested.
Another of Suzy’s positive features are her strong muscles, meaning she’s able to produce all her steps with clarity and care, especially when doing pick-ups in steps like maxi-fords, ripples and pullbacks. Without this strength in the lower leg, she would not be able to jump high enough to get all the beats in and stop them slurring together. Again, this improves all the tap-work in general as it becomes much more clear and crisp but this height is normally not sustained throughout an entire dance or session, meaning her muscular endurance needs to be improved; occasionally her left foot is slightly weaker in this area too.
There is also consistency in Suzy’s work; she attends regular practises and manages to perform to an impressive standard each week, often making rapid improvements. In classes, the only time when she isn’t at the best of her ability is at the very end of sessions when her legs are getting tired. Throughout entire shows she is able to keep performing to a high standard without running out of breath, showing she has good cardio-vascular endurance.
To test this I asked her to try the Cooper Run; this is where the performer runs for 12 minutes around a 100m circuit; no matter what the pace is they cannot stop. Every time they pass the 100m point it is recorded and the final distance travelled is totalled and compared. Although this test was not entirely specific to tap dancing, it had pre-determined figures to show whether the result was below average, a high score etc., proving how good Suzy’s cardiovascular endurance was – Suzy managed to travel 2000m, confirming she is above average.
Movement around a studio or stage is also executed well by Suzy; she manages to extend her steps far enough so that most of the area in the space she’s in is used well. Use of space is one of the criteria that an examiner marking her would look for also helping to improve an overall grade or mark. Dances that only fill the very middle part of a stage are usually not very interesting to watch and often lack variety in choreography, design and style.
A further strength of Suzy’s is her ability to work within a group sequence; she is well practised of reacting off other people and can create rhythms in conjunction with their footwork, whether it is in unison or canon. She even manages to react off people’s mistakes, disguising them and carrying on with the performance, which, if she is planning to make a career out of dancing, is a very good skill to have as it keeps the show looking skilled and professional. Suzy’s work rate is also excellent; not only does she put all she can into lessons at least once a week but makes sure she puts continued effort in on a regular basis so that she comes back each session having perfected what she’s already been taught and ready to learn something new. Due to this persistent application, she often receives Distinctions in high level assessments.