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“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of
the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age; they will stay fresh and green.” (Psalm 92:12-14)
While studying for my writing in Discovering Hope in the Psalms, I learned that in this verse, old age is marked with onset of grey hair (or when you start coloring your grey!) The word flourish means to “blossom profusely”; fresh means “full of sap”, a sign of prosperity and green is a synonym for luxuriant, and it is a word picture of a fruit tree so heavy laden with ripe, luscious fruit that its branches bend to the ground. For me, every method or path to live out this beautiful picture of God’s plan for us as we age gracefully is very motivating!
Therefore, to kick off the new year, I made a commitment to try new things, especially in my health, wellness, and fitness. I picked up a catalog of classes offered by the senior center, a five-minute walk from my home. When I spotted three tap classes offered, I thought, “I loved it as a kid! I still remember my first tap dance to “Jingle Bell Rock” when I was in kindergarten!” My last tap class was when I was age 10, approximately 54 years ago! But I love dance, in all forms, and it was affordable and convenient, so I decided, “Why not?” So, I ordered tap shoes for $20, and a cute dance bag to carry them, and pulled out comfy leggings and a tunic from my workout gear and I was out the door to tap away!
Benefits of Tap Dancing
Let’s explore five top benefits of tap dancing and draw inspiration from some quotes that celebrate this timeless dance form:
Physical Fitness and Coordination:
Tap dancing is a dynamic form of exercise that engages various muscle groups, including the legs, core, and arms. The intricate footwork and rhythmic patterns enhance balance, flexibility, and coordination. As you shuffle, flap, and heel-toe your way across the dance floor, you’re not only improving your cardiovascular health but also refining your motor skills with each step. For me, I felt my heart pumping and I even broke a sweat—but in a way that the exercise seemed easy and invigorating.
“Tap dancing is a fun way to stay in shape. You get to move, you get to make music, and you get to be athletic all at once.” – Savion Glover
Stress Relief and Emotional Well-Being:
The rhythmic nature of tap dancing, combined with the joy of creating music with your feet, can be incredibly therapeutic. As you immerse yourself in the dance, you release endorphins that uplift your mood and alleviate stress. The repetitive movements provide a sense of rhythm and flow, allowing you to momentarily escape the pressures of everyday life and find solace in the dance.
I felt God’s grace wave over me in tap class. Sure, I made mistakes, as did most in my class. But I was able to smile and just give myself the kindness to simply try again, but without any self-doubt or self-condemnation. This grace soon spread to other areas of my life, as I was able to release mistakes more swiftly, and allow myself a “mulligan” or do-over readily.
There is a rhythm to life, and tap dancing helps you find it.” Debbie Allen
Cognitive Benefits and Mental Agility
Learning and mastering tap dance routines require focus, memory, and mental agility. As you memorize choreography and synchronize your movements with the music, you’re stimulating your brain and enhancing cognitive function. Tap dancing challenges your mind-body connection, fostering greater awareness, concentration, and mental sharpness. Even though it had been four decades since my last dance class, I found my brain was able to quickly relearn the familiar steps and aiding in learning new ones. Tap stimulates the brain and promotes neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to form new connections and adapt to changes. Regularly challenging the brain in this way can help maintain cognitive function and resilience against age-related decline.
Tap dancing is like a puzzle for the body and mind. You have to piece together the steps and rhythms, creating a beautiful tapestry of movement- Gregory Hines
Social Connection and Community
Tap dancing is often practiced in group settings, whether in dance studios, classes, or performance groups. Engaging in tap dance sessions fosters a sense of camaraderie and connection with fellow dancers. You share the joy of movement, collaborate on routines, and celebrate each other’s progress and achievements. Tap dancing communities provide a supportive environment where friendships flourish and bonds deepen through a shared passion for dance. I discovered my class was full of smiles and light-hearted giggles of joy. In my own class, tap brings unity as people from both genders, all races and social-economic background merge together. Friendships formed easily because we all had similar goals of wanting to gain physical strength and wellness along with a desire to stay mentally sharp.
“Tap dancing isn’t just about the steps; it’s about the people you dance with and the connections you make along the way.” – Fred Astaire
Creative Expression and Artistic Freedom
Tap dancing offers a platform for creative expression and artistic freedom. Whether you’re improvising rhythms or choreographing your routines, tap dance allows you to unleash your creativity and explore your unique style. With each tap and shuffle, you’re composing your own musical symphony, infusing the dance with your personality, emotions, and imagination. I only take one class a week, but the other days I look forward to tapping in my kitchen, creating my own dance routines to some of my favorite music—including upbeat praise songs. I also find it challenging to turn on favorite show tunes and trying to create my own version of classics like “Singing in the Rain” or Shirley Temple and Bojangle’s, stairstep tap dance.
“Tap dancing is like painting with your feet. You’re creating art in motion, expressing yourself through rhythm and movement.”- Ann Miller.
Tap was all the rage in the early days of Hollywood, with many a musical carried by the talent of dancers like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ruby Keeler, Gene Kelly, Anne Miller, Eleanor Powell, and Bojangles Robinson. A resurgence of tap began in the 1980s, when successful Broadway shows such as 42nd Street and Black and Blue and the movie TAP prominently featured tap dancing. Its popularity has continued to grow among young and old since.
“Tap dancing is a language, and it’s universal. It’s communicated all over the world.” -Gregory Hines
To find a tap class near you, research senior centers, rec departments, junior colleges, adult ed, or dance studios. In some cities, the classes maybe called “Tappy Hour”. Even if you live far out in the country, you can just pull up You Tube and there are many talented tap instructors available to teach you!
Tap dancing is more than just a dance form—it’s a celebration of rhythm, expression, and joy. From physical fitness and stress relief to cognitive benefits and creative expression, tap dancing offers a multitude of rewards for both body and soul. As you lace up your tap shoes and embrace the dance, may you find fulfillment, inspiration, and endless possibilities with every step you take. Happy tapping!
Pam Farrel is the author of 60 books including her newest Growing a Joyful Heart devotional which brings ideas and insights to cultivate joy in your daily life. She is the co-author of tghe Joy Quiet Time Journal and Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience.She enjoys tap and other forms of dance, dancing with her husband, and activities like biking, walking, and kayaking or paddleboarding from her live-aboard boat docked in Southern California. Download a f*r*e*e* ebook, Infectious Joy: A 30 Day Creative devotional