My exploration of dance began with a black leotard and a pair of patent leather tap shoes. For years, I would spend hours in the dance studio practicing the craft, perfecting the sing-song of the metallic plates beneath my toes. My shoes went from simple noise-makers to hand-crafted instruments of sound and rhythm. Eventually, my knees would begin to falter under the weight and impact of having "happy feet." At age 17, I set aside my pursuit of this soulful art form and sought dances with less physical impact on my body. While I was not forced to walk away from this type of dance due to inability or disability, I can empathize with the notion. Coming to terms with the parameters of the human body can be difficult, and I was fortunate enough to walk away of my own free will.
Tap can be difficult, but I think it could easily become a viable option for creative expression, especially for people with limited fine and gross motor skills. At its core, tap is a series of toe taps, heel taps, brushes, and stomps. It can be broken down and, like the Dance for Life courses, it can be learned while seated. Uniquely, tap can give a dance real-time feedback through sound. If taught at a patient pace, I feel the rhythmic nature of the art form can help this demographic strengthen muscles for fine motor movement. The percussive nature of tap also allows for the collaboration of music and dance.
The class would require a sound system, an open dance space, several pairs of taps shoes, and small drums. Ideally, I would like to see the class seated - each with a pair of tap shoes or a personal bongo. For those more comfortable with the upper body half, I would encourage them to use their hands as they would the foot. And vice versa for those using their feet. In this way we play to the strength of each individual participant, but still maintain unity as a percussive "band."
The class would largely follow a pattern of isolation and repetition. I would begin with the simple up-and-down movement of each part of the foot/hand and then work my way up to movement with more rotation and activation of the wrist/ankle joints.
I feel this course would be most effective for a group that has already cycled through a few classes of modern dance or free movement. I feel the class might become frustrated with their inability to make sounds as a unit if this is the first class in a series. However, once the structure of a dance class has been established and the participants have begun to discover their bodies, I feel this could be an exciting challenge and a classic style of dance that may resonate with older participants.