The Right Combination or Making Easy Steps Seem Hard

So I've been in a "back to basics" mode this year trying to strengthen my students' basics skills like shuffles, buffalos, cramp rolls, etc.  In so doing I've found that if you manage to put some of these simple steps in just the right order your students will end being really challenged by them (depending on level of course).  For instance in one class I did buffalo shuffle ball change cramp roll flap ball change.  Sounds pretty easy.  But for some reason the brain wants to do a flap ball change after the buffalo not a shuffle ball change, especially on the 2nd or third repetition of the pattern (I do this across the floor).  I also like this because it allows the kids to practice differentiating shuffle step and flap.  Some kids never ever have a problem confusing the two but others never seem able to internalize the difference.  I have tried a couple of tricks like:

Flaps go Front, Shuffle go Side (usually) noting the letter F in flap and front and the letter S in shuffle and side.

They all "get it" when I write this on the mirror, but two weeks later it seems to be gone again and once again a shuffle has been mistaken for a flap (or vice versa). Anyone have a great way to tackle this problem?

Rod @


  1. The flap/shuffle distinction is my main objective for the first term of my classes. Right now I'm telling them that I flap goes down, hopeing they will strike underneath instead of out in front, and a shuffle goes up. Repeating this seems to be helping!

  2. I learned tap dance 20 years ago. Then I performed with a band for years, without pondering much what I did. But this year my tap brain started thinking again, recalling it all again.

    I didn't learn the term flap, but I must say: I like this very much. It's very practical to say just "flap". So in future I'll do it too.
    In our school we distinguished "forward tap" from "brush", but for improvised freestyle-tapping I consider your way better. How much the foot lunges out depends on my mood - and anyway: Between "forward tap" and "brush" there are many in-betweens possible. So why distinguish? (My comments are always too long, haha! ...sorry...)

    Here comes my question? How did Ruby say?? Do you sell a book where I can read how Ruby Keeler called the steps??? Call me crazy, I just love Ruby and 30s music/movies.


  3. Oh, now I get the topic here, so I'll write something on that:

    In BORN TO DANCE Eleanor Powell finishes her tap specialty on a personal scales - just doing this very-very fast, while rotating:

    dig, pickup, step, heel ... &c.

    I like to use this combination too, it's good for boasting, while recovering from tougher steps. I could even have a cup of coffee, while doing this extremely fast. When I was a beginner I learned it pretty soon.

    But Eleanor is doing this quite a long time, without blushing. Well, I would be afraid to dare this too long, the audience might get the trick and consider it bluff. So I prefer to insert shorter phrases of it.

  4. I play a stomp-stamp-shuffle-flap-hop-switch game. I take the 6 most commonly mistaken moves and
    Make them fun :)
    Dancers stand in a straight line as I call out each move and they perform them. If the stamp is actually a stamp, or the shuffle actually a shuffle (and not a
    Flap) they continue on ... Otherwise they are out and try again next week/next round.
    I like to make learning fun. The better they get at distinguishing the difference between stomp/stamp shuffle/flap hop/switch, the faster I go.
    Have fun and let me know if you use this suggestion.


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