Accent: This is
emphasizing a part of the music or dance
with a tap sound.
Ad Lib: This is another
word for “improvise” which means to dance freely
outside the bounds of choreography.
Back Flap: This is a step
that brushes back, steps then drops the heel.
Back-Front: Simply a ball
Ball Beat: A basic dropping
of the ball of the foot.
Ball Change: Alternately
weight on the balls of the feet from each foot. This
can be done in any direction.
Ball Tap: Just what it
says, place the ball of your foot on the ground then
Bandy Twist: A basic tap
movement originated by Jim Bandy, who danced in the
Barrel Roll, Barrel Turn:
This is a 360 degree of the body while the arms are
extended in a “windmill”.
Bells: This is a click of
the heels against each other while in the air from a
Brush: : A full brush of
the foot against the ground. This can be done in any
direction. Basically, the you flex the knee then
strike the ball of the foot against the floor then the
leg raises in the other direction to follow through
Brush Step: : A brush with
a step on the end of it which is the same as a
Brush Flat: A basic brush
as described above but with the entire flat of the
foot striking against the floor rather then just the
Buck: Exactly the same as a
chug (as defined below). This is a forward movement
with an emphasized heel drop. It’s like scuffing the
floor forward with the heel.
Buck and Wing: Black
American clog dance marked by wing-like steps; this
was the forerunner of the present style of Rhythm Tap.
Buffalo: A side traveling
movement. It can also be executed in place.
Bumps: A bump of the hip
that was done often in Burlesque dancing.
Cake Walk: Strutting across
the stage on the balls of the foot in an exaggerated
walk with the heels kicking back with each step and
the back arched.
Carryback: A backward tap
Carryover: A forward tap
Catch: This is a movement
where the toe of one foot strikes the toe of the other
foot – this can be done with the heel too (heel to
Catch Step : This is a ball
change starting with the back foot bringing one foot
in front of the other.
Chop: A backward straight
legged step that takes a bit of weight!
Chug: This is the same as a
“Buck” as described above. It’s a forward and
forceful scuff of the floor with the heel that pushes
forward about 3 inches.
Cincinnati: This is a
backward movement which moves from one foot to the
other alternating back and forth.
Clap: Just what you think!
A hand clap ;)
Click: A joyful jump in the
air clicking the heels together.
Click Toes: A balance on
the heels while clicking the toes together in the air.
Clip: A striking on the
heel against the toe of the opposite foot or striking
the toe against the heel of the opposite foot.
Cluster: A group of tap
sounds performed in rapid succession.
Contrast: This is the
variation of rhythm patterns in relation to one
Cork Screw: A twisting
motion where the foot is balanced on the heel and the
toe is raised. This movement is sometimes referred to
as a “Tanglefoot”.
Counterpoint: Rhythms that
are complimentary to each other.
Cramp: This is a forceful
heel drop starting from the ball or toe of the foot
Cramproll: This is a use of
the cramp movement in a series of steps.
Cross:This is an old term,
it consists of five sounds starting with a waltz
clog then a time step, but crossing them.
Cross Bar: A side traveling
movement where one leg crosses in front of the other.
Cross Leg Walk: A basic
movement making one tap sound for each beat of music.
Crossover: A movement
employing a crossing of one foot in front of the
Cubanola: An old used for
what we now know as a “Traveling Time Step”.
Cut (or Cut-Out): A leg
swing from one side to the other that strikes the
Dig: A forward digging
movement (into the floor) that can be done with the
ball of the foot of the heel.
Dig Ball: A strike of the
ball of the free foot forward in a forceful movement.
Dig Heel: A hard strike of
the heel in any direction.
Dig Tap: Striking the hall
of the free foot forward in a forceful movement. This
can be done with the toe turned in or turned out and
this movement does not take weight.
Double: An old term for a
Shuffle. The term was derived from the fact that a
Shuffle constitutes two sounds.
Double Ball Change: An old
term for Shuffle - Ball Change which is done in two
different rhythm patterns.
Double Heel Click: This is
a very old term which basically means a “shuffle”
and a “bell” done together.
Double Hop: This is a
shuffle with a hop proceeding it.
Double Hop Step: More
commonly known as an "Irish" or a
"shuffle, hop, step." This movement usually
is executed in two different rhythm patterns.
Double Irish: A
shuffle-hop-step then a shuffle-ball-change - done in
that particular order.
Double Jump: This is a
shuffle then a leap forward to the same foot.
Double Wings: The Double
Wing is executed with six distinct sounds (see the
definition of “wings”)
Drag (or Draw): A foot drag
or draw on the floor in any direction.
Draw Back: Rocking back on
the heels of both feet, then at the same time, brush
both feet back, landing on the balls of both feet at
the same time.
Slap: A "flap" was once called a
"slap", thus the "Drum Slap."
Eccentric: An old form of comedic
Essence: A movement
associated with “soft-shoe” dancing, containing
varied rhythm patterns.
Fan Kick: One foot extends
forward and upward, which will make a “fan”
movement outwardly. Like in a chorus line.
Fall: It's like a leap that's exaggerated in a
comedic way taking the grace out of the leap and
making it appear like a fall though still controlled.
Falling Off the Log: A twisting motion going
sideways (like a "grapevine").
Flap: A quick brush step to the front. Strike
forward to the floor, then step forward and put weight
on the working foot. Usually done forward but can be
done in other directions as well.
Flat Tap: Strike forward (or any direction),
the flat foot.
Flat Step: Strike down the flat foot.
Flea Hop: Slide from one foot to the other.
Flip: A basic Back then a "brush" and
Flop: A flat footed tap where the straight leg
striking the floor.
French Twist: A traveling movement working on
demi-pointe then moves forward in a twisting motion
like the French Can Can girls!
Glide: Striking the floor with one toe across
then across the other foot (in front), then leap over
and land on the other foot.
Graboff: A shuffle then a pickup to a change.
Grab Roll: A pullback movement like the graboff.
Grind: A figure 8 hip movement; as the
Burlesque dancers did.
Hamp: A little hop done on the flat of one
Hand Clap: A...hand...clap.
Heel Beat: balance on the heel then drop it to
Heel Brush Back: Done like a Back Brush that
strikes the heel to the floor.
Heel Change: A change of heel weight of the
front foot to the back foot ball.
Heel Click: Striking the heels together
standing on the balls of your feet.
Heel Close: Two movements going outward then
inward. Makes two sounds.
Heel Dig: Striking the heel forward to the
floor, on demi-pointe.
Heel Drop: A hard drop of the heel on the floor
while weight is placed on the ball of the foot.
Heel Roll: A drop of the heel from one foot to
Heel Scuff: A forward brush of the heel; the
edge of the heel strikes the floor in a swinging
Heel Stand: Balancing on the heels of the feet
at the same time.
Heel Tap: A strike of the back heel to the
ground on demi-pointe, with no weight on it.
Heel Thump: A movement going forward with a
dropping of the heel.
Heel Toe: A heel striking against the floor in
front of the other foot, then transfer the weight
forward to the other heel. Forcing the demi-pointe to
Heel Twist: A movement inward and outward
twisting movement of the toes.
Hitch: Standing on one foot with the knee bent,
as the other leg is in air; then slide back leaning on
your ball and straighten the other leg.
Hop: Jumping up with one foot then flexing your
knee of your other foot as the moving leg springs up
and lands on the original foot.
Hop Double Hop: A “hop-shuffle-hop”.
Inside Slide: A “flea hop”.
Irish Jig: The official folk dancing created by
Jingle: A tap dance accessory which is
basically a metal disc containing a loose washer in
it. It is worn at the instep next to the heel and
produces extra sounds when dancing tap movements. This
device isn’t common today but was worn by amateurs
in the good old days.
Jim Crow: Originally a form of Blackface.
Jump: A spring into the air from both feet,
landing on both feet in any direction.
Kick: A kick extending from the knee (not hip).
Lamp: A leap from one foot to the other that
lands on the flat of the foot rather then the ball.
Leap: A leap into the air from the supporting
foot, landing on the opposite foot. A leap always
involves a change of weight from one foot to the
Lunge: The pushing of one foot forward, on the
floor and with a bent knee while the other extends but
stays on the ground. This is mainly a yoga and ballet
Military Dance: A rhythmic structure that is
measured into a uniform number of beats.
Moderato: A military style of tap dancing using
cramprolls in a drum-like fashion in a 4/4 or 2/4
Musical Comedy: Musical Comedy was actually the
forerunner of today's Modern Jazz! It is a technical
type of tap dancing that included comedy.
Nerve Tap (or “nerve roll”): A series of
fast taps with the heel, ball or toe from the
vibration of the leg.
Off Beat: Basic tap rhythms.
Over the Top: A leap over the foot.
Paddle Step: Normally executed in a turn but
could be executed in place or traveling to the side.
Parallel Travel (or “pigeon toes”): Any
form of travel from one side of the stage to the
other. This was originally applied to movements
involving the pivoting on the heels and toes of one or
both feet applying an inward and outward motion.
Patter: A series of small steps executed fastly.
Pickup: Hop back on one foot then brush step.
Pickup Change: Same as a pickup but landing on
the opposite foot. This movement is sometimes preceded
by a Shuffle.
Pivot: A swivel of the foot whether it be from
the ball, heel or flat.
Pull (a.k.a. “slide” ,“draw” or
“brush”): Represents a sliding back on one or
Push Beat (or “offbeat”) : An accented tap
on the "and" count in an eighth-note rhythm,
with a rest on the count of "1."
Railroad: A pushing movement of the feet back
and forth on the floor, alternating from one foot to
the other to produce the sound effects like a train.
Rattle (or “shuffle”): A front brush
followed by a back brush; may be executed to the
front, side or back.
Rhythm Buck: A form of buck dancing with
complex rhythm patterns.
Riff: A forward brush and heel scuff on the
Riff Walks: A walk using riffs.
Riffle: A riff and a back brush.
Roll: Normally a reference to a Nerve Roll of 4
or 5 sounds, but could refer to a double shuffle to
the rear, or a Cramproll.
Rolling off the Log (or “falling off the log”):A
twisting movement similar to a grapevine, normally
traveling to the side.
Rubber Legs: Movement associated with comedy
dancing where the legs are used in a loosely
Russian Wings (or "squat wings"): To
throw both feet forward and brush a strike the heel of
one foot then the other.
Scoot: A hop and slide forward, similar to a
Scuff: A heel movement executed in the same
manner as a forward brush where the back edge of the
heel strikes the floor in a swinging like movement.
Scuffle: A shuffle accented differently.
Seven: An old tap term combination using seven
sounds; Shuffle Step, Shuffle Ball change.
Shading: The accenting of tapping sounds.
Shading consists of the variation of rhythm made by
the shifting of emphasis or the pitch of the
Shim Sham: Shuffle step right, shuffle step
left, shuffle ball change both feet, then shuffle step
right. Repeat then Reverse.
Shuffle: A forward brush then a back in any
direction done fast in a 16th note rhythm.
Skid (or “chug”): A sliding forward of the
ball of the foot followed by a heel drop on the same
Slam: A straight legged flat tap involving no
Slap: An emphasized back brush or flap (brush,
step with weight).
Slide (or “slip”): A forward sliding of the
foot (or in any desired direction).
Slow Drag: A slow 4/4 time tempo.
Snake Hips: A rolling hip movement used by
Soft Shoe: A dance performed in a slow 4/4 time
that was originally danced with sand on the
floor…but was later replaced with metal taps.
Spot Step: A static step, movement or phrase.
Spread Eagle: Shuffle leap right, backflap
Spring (or “leap”): A spring into the air
jumping off one foot and landing on the other.
Stag Leap: A leaping movement into the air with
one leg extended straight to the side, the other knee
flexed with the foot at the knee of the extended leg.
Stamp (or ”flat step”): Stepping on the
flat of the foot, taking full weight.
Step: Placing the foot firmly on the floor,
taking weight (always executed on the ball of the foot
unless otherwise noted).
Step Chug: A step forward on the ball (or flat)
of the foot, usually followed by a Chug.
Step Brush, Heel Drop: Just what it says ;)
Step Pull (or “step, slide”): A step and
slide back on the same foot.
Stomp (or “flat tap”): Striking the floor
with the flat of the foot not taking weight.
Stomp Roll: A series of heel drops from side to
Strike (or “hit”): With weighted heels of
both feet, strike the toes together.
Strut: Just what it says! Strut like John
Stub: Hitting the right toe against the left
heel or vice versa.
Stub Toe Walk: Walking doing the “stub”.
Swap Wings: The first two sounds of the
“wing” with a land on the opposite foot for an
added third sound.
Swirl: A 360 degree knee spin.
Swivel: 1/4 or 1/2 turn done on the balls of
the feet. The feet do not leave the floor.
Tacet: A step or series of steps danced without
music that normally occurs in the middle of a dance
Tanglefoot: A tap movement from the
“Charleston Theme Step”, consisting of the inward
and outward motion of the toes. This movement is
sometimes called a "Heel Twist."
Tap Heel: Same as a Heel Tap: Strike the back
edge of the heel (toe up) to the floor in any desired
direction. This movement does not take weight.
Tap Spring: Tap with the right ball of the foot
to the left and then leap forward to the right.
Tap, Step: Tap right ball forward then step
right back. A combination of two tap sounds.
Three: An old term sometimes referred to as a
“triple”. It is most commonly known though as a
“shuffle” and then a “step” which makes three
sounds total in the move.
Tiller: A term that came from the English music
halls, originated by John Tiller. This refers to a
line or a group of dancers who dance in precision and
execute high kicks and formations. Sometimes referred
to as a "Line Number."
Time Step: An upbeat and repeatable combination
that marks a tempo. An eight measure movement placed
at the beginning of a dance routine. A total of six of
them were usually done that were followed by a
“break”. There are countless variations of the
Toe Back (or “toe tap”): To strike the
point of the toe behind the standing foot then
immediately raising the foot from the floor.
Toe Beat: Same as a Toe Tap but the toe remains
on the floor
Toe Click: With the toes upward and the weight
on the heels of both feet, strike the toes together.
Toe Dig: An emphasized step that is forward on
the ball of the foot (with the knee bent) that is a
slinky strutting movement.
Toe Drop: A force of the ball of the foot to
the floor starting from a heel balance.
Toe-Heel: Brush forward and heel dig forward
with the other foot (starting with a heel balance).
Toe Stand: Balancing on the points of both
Toe Tap (or “toe tip”): A strike of the toe
in any direction immediately raising the foot from the
floor after. Usually, this movement does not take
Trench: A series of slides back, alternating
from one foot to the other while swinging the arms 180
degrees in an “airplane” fashion. Put the weight
on one foot, then extend the other leg in the air.
Then slide back on the outer edge of the supporting
foot, landing on the other foot (at the same spot from
which the first slide started). The body is bent
forward with the arms extended and in line with the
Triplet: Three tap sounds performed on each
beat of music: e.g., "1 and a, 2 and a,
Turns: There are four basic turns associated
with tap: right and left inside and outside turns.
Two: A “shuffle”.
Two Step: A common movement like the “fox
trot”: step forward right then close left to right
and step forward then rest.
Vamp: A musical introduction, or musical phrase
which can be repeated indefinitely.
Wings: A movement done on one foot while the
other foot is in the air. Then the toe of the
supporting foot will be turned inward, and then brush
the foot outward in a swishing movement, that is done
on the outer edge of the sole (lifting body upward in
the air) - then do a back brush step on the descending
movement (making 3 sounds).