I Think I Figured Out Why I Loved Tap Dancing Best

I figured it out while jangly limb dancing around the house the other night. 

Mickey’s on a late night schedule, so that’s been happening pretty frequently.

Oh, wait, I just realized you may not jangly limb dance yourself, so let me explain to you what that is. 

It’s dancing. 

With jangly limbs. 

Basically the pathway between the music your years are hearing the limbs your brain is moving is completely clear – no traffic, no other “cars” on the road. It’s just dancing. 

So, when I jangly limb dance, all the ‘technique’ I learned all those years of adult dancing goes out the window. I just move in the way that makes my limbs the happiest. And ignore all the judgement my brain is throwing at me until it shuts up and enjoys itself. 

I normally don’t do this in front of other people, because if there is another “people” there, traffic will back up on the music pathway due to my brain getting self conscious. 

Ok, so I was jangly limb dancing the other night and I was using a variety of music. I started with “Feelin’ Myself”. You know, booty music.

But as it got later, I wanted something slower, so I switched to “Leftovers 1+2+3” and it was great for a while. 

“The Leftovers” soundtrack allowed me to move in a variety of ways, lyrical-y, jazzy, ballet-y, hip-hop-y and even some tap-y. 

No matter what is going on around me at any given time, my brain is gonna be on an “analyze” loop in the background, looking for patterns or interesting things to comment on. 

Yes, even when I am alone. 

So my brain noticed that when I did the lyrical and other dancing, I just kind of went with the flow, not doing any “moves” but always keeping my toes pointed, because I wanted to have pretty lines for my jangly limb dancing. 

But when I tapped… I did time steps, buffalos and other named moves. Things I knew were correct tapping moves. 

My brain made me stop and really consider why I was doing this. 

See? When I started my adult dance journey I started with one ballet class, which I always arrived early for. 

Before the ballet class was an adult tap class and it looked like so much fun, so, by the end of the first month, I added tap dancing to my class lineup.

And I fell in love. Like, hard. I took to tap dancing much easier than I did the other styles of dance. 

I’ve never really understood why though. 

Until my jangly lumb dancing the other night. 

It’s because I can hear it!

Like, that’s the one sense my brain can recall, so being able to hear if I was right or wrong in my brain when I was practicing (which I did under my desk constantly) was immensely helpful. 

Plus, if I got stuck on a spot I always wrote down the names of the moves, so I could look it up on YouTube for a refresher.

There was another adult that took just as many dance classes as I did, so naturally we became friends. 

Her name was Janis and she was pretty magical. At the time she was in her 60s and seemed to be good at everything she did. She had a passion for orchids and could grow anything. 

Sometimes she would come on a Saturday while D was in class so we could practice our recital routines out front together. 

Since we were in so many classes together, Janis could notice when I was struggling and seemed to understand how my brain worked before even I did. Sometimes there were steps I just couldn’t get through my brain – it just wouldn’t click. 

So Janis would write them down for me, breaking them into as small steps as possible. Which was honestly pretty easy, because most all of tap dancing is building blocks. 

There was on tap class we took together that frustrated us both so bad we decided NOT to do a recital dance because we didn’t like anything the instructor was doing. Janis and I didn’t decide this – the entire tap class did. 

He was not a good tap teacher – he’d never use the names  of the movies or really show us them more than once. He was an incredible tapper though, so maybe he thought it came that easy for everyone. 

Whatever it was, I got very little from his tap class. 

And it was so frustrating because I loved tap so much. It made me feel confident and good at something in a very tangible way. 

I always appreciated Janis taking the time with me in dance classes… and it didn’t even stop with dance. 

There was one time where I was giving D a full 80s movie education and we were in the lobby before class trying to figure out what to watch next. 

Janis was curious, so she asked what we were doing. We explained that we were watching a different 80s movie every weekend and were getting to the end of our list!

The next week, Janis showed up with three sheets if paper front and back, filled with Janis’ 80’s movie picks. 

Tap Classes weren’t the only classes Janis and I took together, either. 

One time (well, more than one time, but I am talking about one time in particular) Janis and I were in a Musical Theater class with D! It was so exciting – we had all taken a musical theater class together the previous year where we did a recital dance to “Money” from Mama Mia!

But this year, we had the “no moves” tap teacher for Musical Theater. 

And, to be fair, he was a pretty fabulous Musical Theater dance teacher. He had an obvious love for musicals that shone through. 

We all loved him until he told us what he wanted our Intermediate/Advanced Musical Theater recital dance to be. 

A mashup of a couple songs from “A Chorus Line” with a costume change. 

In a three minute number. 

Oh and did I mention he wanted us to do the original Broadway choreography?

WE did it. Well, we tried. But it was not Broadway level dancing. 

It was a lot of work and I’m kind of proud I did it, but I get flashbacks to the choreography if I ever hear those songs again. Probably the only choreo I can remember that’s not tap dance. 

I also remember some moves from our lyrical dance to “Imagine” with Miss Kelly, but that’s because they went with the words of the song, so they are easy to remember. 

WElp, now I don’t know how to wrap this up. 

Janis never showed up for picture day, but was always shining at rehearsal. 

Here’s our costumes from when we did a tap number to “Wipeout” that I think I still have a permanent bruise on my hip from. (We did slide in entrances at one point.)

I really miss dancing. 

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