To Tap or not to Tap – That is the question?
What is the tap?
A tap is basically is the striking of the free foot to the floor in any direction. In beginners Cuban Salsa this generally pertain to the ball of the foot or toes. As we get more advance it could be back edge of the heel with the toe up or more flat footed movement. In no form does this movement take weight.
When do we tap?
The Tap is performed on the 4th & 8th beat. Because the foot does not take weight It is generally a slight elevation of the foot that is going to step next on the 1 or 5 (appropriately).
Well at its heart because that is what I was taught, and see below for why I continue the tap. My teachers Greydis and Vivio professional Cuban dancers living in NZ, who at the time were teaching at the Cuban Groove in Auckland and taught with a tap. This was reinforced by our journey to Havana in 2009 where Isaias Rojas Ramirez director of Ban Rarra dance company and we continued to tap.
Why do I teach with a tap?
The key is in weight balance. Simply, the Tap ensures that your weight balance is central and on the correct foot. The tap or the 4 and 8 are often the point at which a man needs to provide the “lead” to communicate the next direction/move the dance will take. As I regularly ask in class, if you want to chance direction and you cannot control your own weight, how will you direct and influence the weight balance of the follower? As for the follower how can we change direction looking elegant without good control of our weight balance? the answer to both is you can’t, so tap it out baby!
Also importantly, the Tap also ensures that you respect the timing within Salsa music, too often if you do not dance a tap the temptation is to rush through 4 and 8, bringing you out of time.
Once learnt the tap can be dropped or modified and used to give a bit more zip to your personal style. However, I have found students find it much harder to learn it later.So while it may seem harder and more difficult to get right at the start, keep working on it, it will come.
So lets get dancing… 1-2-3-tap!