Whether you’re an experienced tap dancer itching to perform on stage or a beginner who has never worn a pair of tap shoes, Tap That, a Student Association (SA)-chartered organization geared toward those interested in the dance style, provides a space for dancers of all skill levels to practice their moves.
“Some of us may have danced in high school or earlier in our lives and want to continue with it, or some may want to learn how to tap, and we’re able to provide that for people,” said Allison Goetz, president of Tap That and a junior majoring in biochemistry. “We’re just here to encourage creativity while also doing something fun together.”
Goetz, a competitive dancer prior to coming to Binghamton University, said she knew she wanted to join a dance club on campus as a freshman and was instantly attracted to Tap That because of its welcoming atmosphere.
“When I went to college, I knew that I wanted to continue to tap, so this was the one club I was looking forward to signing up for at [University Fest],” Goetz said . “Once I found Tap That, I was hooked. Because I was a dancer, I was looking for organizations to dance with on campus and a couple of things fell through, but Tap That was always there for me and helped me find my spot here.”
Similarly, Katie Isgro, vice president of Tap That and a sophomore majoring in human development, started dancing 10 years ago, though she discovered tap when she was 5 years old and was immediately drawn to the style.
“I discovered tap when I was at my gymnastics end-of-the-year performance, where they had different types of dances like jazz,” Isgro said. “I remember very distinctly that when I was backstage, I heard the tap shoes and after the performance, I told my mom that I had to do this.”
Unlike most types of dance, tap is a percussive dance that uses the sound of metal from the bottom of a dancer’s shoes to create its own music. For Isgro, this combination of rhythmic sounds made with your feet and traditional jazz dancing is what drew her toward tap in the first place.
“It’s just so interesting that someone put metal on the bottom of their shoes and made a sound from it,” Isgro said. “And it’s incredible because if you have no music but you have the metal on your shoes, you can figure out what song you’re dancing to.”
Although the club tends to attract experienced tap dancers, members aren’t required to have any background in dancing — only a keen interest in tap and a willingness to learn are necessary.
“It’s one of those things where if you have the passion or if you’re interested, even putting in just 10 minutes a day can help you figure out a lot because there’s just so many muscles in your feet that you may not have used before,” Isgro said. “You start off with a simple tap with your toe into a shuffle, and then all of a sudden you’re doing time steps and all these crazy things that we like to do. That’s why during the first two weeks, we get people on the floor and see what people know and what they don’t know so we can work with them.”
Most members of the club bring their own tap shoes to practice, but for those who don’t own a pair of professional dance shoes, dancing in sneakers or even barefoot work just fine, according to Goetz.
“In the past, we said that people could just tap in their sneakers or barefoot, because it’s a good way to practice and it helps you get used to moving your feet in something that’s comfortable,” Goetz said. “If someone’s really passionate about it and they want to buy tap shoes, there is a dance store in Vestal over by Wegmans that we recommend, but we don’t require tap shoes at all.”
To end every spring semester, the club hosts an annual tap dancing showcase, where all ticket proceeds go toward Dancing Dreams, a nonprofit organization located in Bayside, New York. The organization aims to provide dance classes for children with disabilities while also providing outreach on disability awareness. Tap That members split up into different groups and dance to a variety of popular artists ranging from Shawn Mendes and Maroon 5 to Billy Joel.
“We always do ‘Only the Good Die Young’ by Billy Joel because that’s just become a Tap That staple,” Goetz said. “It’s the same dance every year and our audience is probably sick and tired of it, but it’s Tap That’s dance.”
If you don’t have experience in tap dancing and are hesitant about joining the club, Isgro said that students of all dance backgrounds should attend a practice if they’re looking for an easy stress reliever while also meeting new people.
“If you like music, come dance,” Isgro said. “If you’ve never danced in a certain amount of years or never done it before, we’re just excited that you showed up. We’re not here to judge, we’re here to have fun. We want people to feel like they have a stress-free environment to turn to because we’re there to be their friends.”