Cover image for The tap dance dictionary
The tap dance dictionary
Knowles, Mark, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [1998]

Physical Description:
ix, 254 pages ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1794 .K66 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The language of tap dancing is as rich and varied as that of any art, and different choreographers, teachers and performers often use totally different terms for exactly the same step. The various names of all steps and clear descriptions of them are collected for the first time in this reference work. The emphasis is on all variations of a name, from universally recognized terms to simple pet names that individual performers and choreographers have created, with extensive cross-references provided. Each of the steps is fully described, with appropriate counts, explanations and history. Many antique and unusual steps such as the Patting Juba, the Quack, and the Swanee Shuffle are included.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

During his career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer, the author collected tap-dancing terminology, steps, combinations, and stories about their provenance. His teacher, Louis DaPron, was his inspiration for starting this project, the source of much of his information, and the originator of the notation for writing down how the steps are done. Knowles' later research consisted of searching old books and articles for names of steps, and personal interviews with people in the tap field. Primarily a record of steps, this volume does not have entries on performers or other aspects of the field. It will not teach readers how to tap. It does, however, give the basic information necessary for dancers to perform the steps, from A,B,C Step to Zink. Tap steps can be named for the way they sound when danced, the way they look, the person who created them, or the place they originated. Many tap steps have several names, and these are cross-referenced. Entries are broader than just tap. A few terms come from ballet but are used in tap dancing (cabriole, pas de Basque). Entries explain and describe many ballroom dances (boogie woogie, bunny hop, rumba, waltz), folk dances (clog dancing, polka, schottische), and African American dances (black bottom cake walk). Some entries include brief historical information. This unique reference book will be a welcome addition to academic libraries supporting curricula in dance and theater arts, and public libraries with comprehensive dance collections. While concentrating on notation, it also sheds some light on a slice of the history of popular dance in America. Other libraries may purchase as needed.