Tap shoes come in many shapes and sizes, so it can be confusing if you’re shopping for your first pair. In today’s post, we’ll clear up that confusion and break down the 3 main levels of tap shoe and what the benefits for each one are.
Beginner Tap Shoes
When starting out, a beginner level tap shoe is the best idea. For this list, we’ll say anyone who has tap class once a week (or is in a class labelled ‘beginner’,) is at the beginner level. These shoes are generally quite light so that the dancer can learn technique and strengthen the muscles in the foot without being too distracted by the shoe they’re wearing. The taps on beginner shoes are often attached with a grommet to keep the taps in place and again, to allow dancers to focus on developing their knowledge of tap foundational skills. As an added bonus, these shoes are at the lowest price point on this list.
Intermediate Tap Shoes
If you dance tap 2-3 times a week (or are in a class labelled intermediate), you’re likely at the intermediate level. For intermediate dancers, an intermediate shoe makes the most sense. Often made from higher-quality materials from the beginner level shoes, these shoes will last longer especially when dancing multiple times a week. The taps for intermediate shoes are mostly attached with screws (although some still use grommets,) to allow the dancer to experiment with how tight or loose they want the taps on their shoes to be. The taps are also slightly heavier than the ones on beginner shoes. This adds a new element of depth to a dancer’s tap experience and allows dancers to begin to put their own touch on their style of tap. Price-wise, these shoes will be more than the beginners, but less than a full build-up tap shoe.
Advanced (Build-Up) Tap Shoes
Anyone who’s dancing 4 times or more per week (or is in a class labelled advanced,) is likely at the advanced level. These shoes are made from the highest-quality materials around to ensure that they can be danced in as often and as vigorously as an advanced tapper needs to. The taps are attached with screws so dancers can fine-tune their shoe to exactly how they prefer it or even remove the factory taps and add taps of their own. They also include an added platform of reinforced leather (called a build-up,) between the sole and the tap to give the shoe heft and allow a depth of pitch in the taps. Advanced tap shoes also offer the highest amount of personalization for the shoes with several companies (like So Danca,) offering a range of colours and fabrics for different styles of tap shoe that aren’t available at the beginner or intermediate level. Most styles at the advanced level include something called a scuff pad that can be added just behind the front tap to dampen sound if the dancer prefers it. These shoes can be quite costly compared to the intermediate and beginner level tap shoes, but will last much longer than either. In fact, it’s happened more than once when an advanced dancer attempts to save a bit by opting for the intermediate shoe and then ends up coming back a few months later to buy the build-up because the intermediate level couldn’t stand up against their rigorous schedule.
Whether it’s your first time in taps or you just wanted a refresher on tap shoes, we hope this post helped answer some of your questions. If you have any questions regarding tap shoes or other dancewear, we encourage you to reach out to us and let us know.